Tag Archives: nut allergy

Polvorones with Pepitas

Polvorones with Pepitas

I love the Thanksgiving Holiday.  Thanksgiving is the time of year that we get to spend quality time with friends and family.  We cook, we talk much, we laugh, play games, watch football and most importantly, we simply get to enjoy each others company.  I’m so lucky to have such a wonderful family.  In my opinion, the grand feast of roasted turkey, stuffing, gravy, green peas, rolls, potatoes, cranberry relish, pumpkin pie, cakes, cookies and so many other dishes is just a bonus.  At our annual Thanksgiving dinner this year, I offered to bake Polvorones with Pepitas, Mint Chocolate Mint Chip Cookies, and Herb Rolls to share.  I also brought an antipasto platter and a couple of bottles of prosecco :).

Polvorones are little cookies that are also called Mexican Wedding Cakes, Russian Tea Cakes, Snowballs, or even Butterballs.  Whatever you choose to call them, they’re just delicious!

My Polvorones recipe is a twist on the traditional cookie recipe for I used toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) instead of walnuts or pecans.  Many people know by now that I don’t cook with walnuts, pecans or other type of tree nut because I am allergic to them and I have other members in my family that share the same issue.  Pepitas are a perfect substitute for they have a delicious nutty flavor and crunch similar to nuts.  I use pepitas in recipes all the time that list nuts as an ingredient.  Pesto, cookies, and granola just to name a few…

I like to give the little cookies a light dusting of powdered sugar before setting them out at the dessert table.   The powdered sugar reminds me of fresh fallen snow.

The dessert table at Thanksgiving…  We had quite the selection of brownies, pumpkin pie, salted caramels, apple pie, coffee cake, chocolate cookies and my little Polvorones with Pepitas.  We are so fortunate to have some amazing cooks in our family.  Everything that we prepare and share is made from scratch.  I just love it!

My Polvorones with Pepitas recipe is slightly adapted from Epicurious (Bon Appetit,2003).

Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup pepitas, toasted, coarsely ground
  • a big pinch of ground cinnamon

In a medium sized bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until fluffy (I used my stand mixer).  Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla extract.  Continue to mix.  Slowly add the flour and pepitas.  Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for about a half an hour or so to chill the dough.  Mix remaining sugar and cinnamon in a shallow bowl and set aside.  Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Using a small cookie scoop (2 tsp sized) to scoop out 4 dozen little balls.  Roll each ball in the palm of your hand and place 1″ apart on a silicone lined baking sheet.  Bake for about 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown on the bottom and have a pale color on the top.  Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the cookie sheets for about 5-7 minutes.  Carefully roll each warm cookie in the powdered sugar mixture and place on racks to cool completely.  Sift leftover powdered sugar over the cookies before serving. Store in an airtight container for 2 – 3 days.  Makes about 4 dozen cookies.

Sunflower Seed Cookies

Sunflower Seed Cookies

Chances are you know someone who has a food allergy. You might even be one of those people yourself.  Whether it be shellfish, wheat, dairy or peanuts, food allergies can be a real nuisance and are not easy to deal with.  First of all, you have to constantly ask questions about what you are about to eat and second, you have to always read the food labels.  I know what it’s like because I personally know from experience…  It’s not fun  and depending on the ingredient or level of allergy, it can be down right dangerous.

Many of you may have noticed by now, I don’t prepare dishes with almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, or even pecans.  I like really like them but they don’t like me. I can’t eat them let alone touch them.  Big, big, big, bummer…  But on the bright side, I have learned to cook with substitutions and have adapted many of my favorite recipes.  And fortunately, I am still okay with peanuts.  I just need to be careful.

Over the years I have learned to adapt.  For example, I like to use sunflower seed butter instead of almond or peanut butter on toast or in cookies.  I’ll use toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for a nutty crunch in pesto and in homemade granola.  The more I learn about using these ingredients the less I miss tree nuts.  It used to be a big obstacle but now I consider my tree nut allergy just a speed bump in my life.  As my sister says, “It is what it is…”  And quite frankly, she’s 100% correct.

My Sunflower Seed Cookies are a riff on Betty Crocker’s Peanut Butter Cookie recipe from my circa 1950’s first edition Betty Crocker’s Picture Cookbook.  I found my cookbook in a used bookstore a few years ago and I just love it!  It’s 62 years old and is full of amazingly nostalgic recipes.  I adapted the peanut butter cookie recipe from this cookbook by swapping the peanut butter for sunflower seed butter.  I also added a half cup of crunchy sunflower seeds and a teaspoon of vanilla extract.  They look just like a traditional peanut butter cookie but with a subtle sunflower seed flavor.  They’re simply delicious!  Enjoy!  Tessa


  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup toasted unsalted shelled sunflower seeds

In a medium sized mixing bowl cream together the white sugar, brown sugar, sunflower seed butter, egg, and vanilla extract.  In a separate bowl mix together the flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt.  Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix until blended.  Add the sunflower seeds.  Place cookie dough covered with plastic wrap in the refrigerator and chill for about 2 hours or until the cookie dough is firm.

15 minutes before baking, preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Using a small scoop roll the dough into 1 1/4 inch sized balls.  Place dough balls on silpat lined cookie sheet 3 inches apart.  Press top of dough with a fork to flatten slightly.  Bake for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden in color.  Remove cookies from cookie sheet with a spatula and place on wire racks to cool.  Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.