Recipes so good it oughta' be a sin!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Review: Martha’s Noel Nut Balls

IMG_3904 Really? Noel Nut Balls? Martha, we’ve got to do better on names. Unfortunately, the title of this recipe puts me in mind of Alec Baldwin’s classic SNL sketch “Pete Scweddy’s Balls.”
Anyway, I ran across this while bored and watching Martha Stewart via cable On-Demand service. I was intrigued because the recipe seemed quite similar to Mama’s own Russian Tea Cakes as well as one of my favorite store-bought Christmas Cookies, “Cashew Nougats” by Archway.  Actually, comparing my Mama’s recipe and Martha’s recipe they are nearly identical except for the use of the bourbon and honey. 
This evening I undertook what I believe is my first Martha Stewart recipe. To be honest, I think most of her stuff is, well, over the top. I did have fun reading the comments on the site, though. Martha has quite the following and not all of them are quite up to speed on those cooking skills. One woman was complaining that she thought because these had bourbon that they were bourbon balls. She was upset they turned out to be a cookie! Of course, a cursory glance at the ingredients is going to tell you these are going to be a cookie texture!
The results were quite good. I was pleased and sure enough the texture was pretty close to my favorite “Cashew Nougat” cookies although just a touch more dense. However, that was not a detraction.

Rather than the bourbon Martha calls for I used a rum extract and little lemon extract. I didn’t have any bourbon on hand and wasn’t going out to buy a bottle for one recipe, so I made do. I actually liked the result. You still get that hint of alcohol flavor that is hard to pin down and the lemon provides a nice crispness to counter the nuttiness of the pecans.
A tip she mentioned on her show when doing this recipe that I found quite handy was to form the dough into a square before refrigerating. Then when ready to make the cookies you cut the dough into squares and roll the squares in your hands to form the balls. It worked very well. I actually made the cookies slightly larger than she calls for because the 2 teaspoon size seemed a little skimpy to me. Hey, I like to know when I’m eating something!
I think this one will become a regular part of my cookie routine as it’s pretty easy to do, fairly quick and the results were consistent with what I expected looking at the ingredients and directions. The next time I do it, I will substitute cashews for the pecans!
So, you’ll find the full recipe here. In place of the bourbon I substituted 1/4 tsp. Rum Extract and 1/4 tsp. Lemon Extract. You can use orange, too, and get a similar result.

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