Tuesday, December 10, 2013
Vegan Pecan Balls
The other day I made a vegan version of the pecan balls my mom always baked at Christmas when I was a kid. They were really good (rich and vegan-buttery) and they brought back lots of happy memories.
In December when I was young, Mom would become a baking fiend, whipping up pecan balls, date balls, toffee, fudge, icebox fruitcake, cut-out cookies, party mix, spiced pecans, cheese wafers, and more. She'd fill old tins and Cool Whip containers with goodies, hiding them from us kids (we were ravenous freaks), saving them up to use as presents and to serve on the big day. Finally, on Christmas Eve, we were free to dig in. We'd pull everything out and have a little party just for us, for our family (Mom and four kids).
Mom would put her special Christmas table cloth on the table, and my sister Kris and I would make punch out of Sprite and lime sherbet. We'd arrange our treats on Mom's best dishes. The party mix would go in a big cut-glass bowl with a silver rim, and the cookies and candy would go on a round white platter that looked like a giant, wide-open flower (it had a ruffled edge).
We used to laugh so much as we ate like pigs. I'm afraid we kids were pretty goofy and obnoxious. One of Mom's old friends used to send these unintentionally hilarious Christmas newsletters that we always looked forward to receiving, and I think lots of our jokes were about the newsletters; I believe Kris would even do dramatic readings.
I guess I think it's pretty neat that we could have such a great party with only five people, the same people we saw every day. We'd be so excited even though nobody was coming over (all our relatives lived far away). Christmas music would be playing, and my brother, Jacob, would be dancing. The tree would be sparkling, and cats would be casually sharpening their claws on the Christmas presents, ripping up the wrapping paper. Things could get pretty crazy.
Pecan balls were part of the fun. I'm glad I can still enjoy them now even though I'm a poor deprived vegan.
Vegan Pecan Balls
1 cup vegan butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup finely chopped pecans
In a large mixing bowl, cream the butter, sugar, and vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add the flour. Stir in the pecans. Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls. Place 1 inch apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 325 degrees F for 20 to 22 minutes or until the cookies are set and the bottoms are lightly browned. Let the cookies sit for 2 to 3 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool. Roll in powdered sugar when cool enough to handle.