Friday, December 11, 2009

Russian tea cakes

A Christmas classic! I've since heard these powdered sugar-covered shortcakes called other things such as Mexican wedding cakes, and they're probably completely unknown in all foreign lands. But since I grew up in the capital of Russian America, I get to call them Russian tea cakes!

There are many recipes for it but they all are only slightly different. Here's one.

And here's the one I have in my recipe box (makes about 3 dozen):

1 c unsalted butter, softened (you need to let it sit out for hours - don't microwave or other shortcut!)
1/4 c powdered sugar (sift if necessary)
1 tsp vanilla
2 c flour + 2 Tbsp
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 - 1 c chopped toasted walnuts or pecans.

Toast the nuts on an ungreased baking pan for about 8-10 minutes at about 350 degrees (until they smell toasted). Set aside until they cool. Then if you're using a food processor, toss them in with 2 T flour and pulse just about 5 times. Too much and you get nut butter which is not what we want here! (If you're not using a food processor, just chop them finely and add in the 2 T flour with them.)

Mix powdered sugar well into butter (beat for awhile - until butter looks whipped) and add in vanilla. Add salt and 2 c flour (gradually is easier) and stir well (this is when I start using my hands instead of a spoon). Add the nuts and mix well.

Roll into small balls (about 1 1/2" diameter) and bake 10-12 minutes in an oven about 375 (between 350 and 400 is fine). They're done when they start to brown on the edges and smell done.

Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar; let cool and then roll them again.

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