Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Russian (or not so Russian) Tea Cakes

The start of my baking hobby began over a decade ago in elementary school. One of my most memorable experiences was baking endless batches of Christmas cookies with my lovely friend Sarah: anywhere from sugar cookies, to peanut butter surprises, to Russian tea cakes, and harlequin dippers, but the crowd favorite was by far the Russian tea cakes. As to how they got their name, it truly beats me, since I don't think they are even from Russia. Also known as Mexican wedding cakes and snowball cookies, these powdered sugar covered melt-in-your-mouth delights are a wonderful accompaniment to a cup of tea and are the perfect holiday cookies to share. But beware, these butter laden babies are not for the faint of heart. 

Russian Tea Cake Recipe

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 40 minutes (20 min per batch)
Yield: 5 dozen cookies

2 cups butter at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar sifted
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 cups powdered sugar for coating

1. Cream butter and powdered sugar until fluffy
2. Add vanilla extract and stir just until mixed
3. Sift flour and salt into the butter/sugar mixture
4. Knead thoroughly until a dough forms and all the flour is mixed through
5. Mix in chopped nuts and knead again until incorporated
6. Chill dough for at least 1 hour
7. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F and take dough out of refrigerator
8. Scoop a small amount of dough into your hand and pack the dough tight while you are rolling in order to prevent cookies from cracking during baking. Roll dough into 1 inch balls and place on an ungreased cookie sheet with at least 1 inch in between cookies
9. Bake each sheet for 15-20 minutes until cookies are golden - make sure not to let them burn!
10. Once out of the oven, let cookies cool on the rack for 5 minutes then toss in powdered sugar to coat.
11. Set cookies aside to cool completely
12. Once completely cool, toss cookies in powdered sugar for a second coat
13. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks

Just a touch of gold
After the first coat of powdered sugar
Ok I'll admit, there's no lavender in this recipe at all but I had just gotten a lavender plant and they were too pretty to resist including in my pictures. 

Bon Appetit!

Special thanks to Sarah Abdallah for letting me share her recipe.

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