My all time favorite Christmas cookie is a recipe my Grandmother brought with her when she fled Russia with her mother during World War II. She lovingly passed the recipe down to her daughter-in-law, my mother. She in turned passed the recipe to me.
Russian Tea Cakes are a delicate buttery-pecan cookie lightly sweetened with a double dusting of powdered sugar. As I child I thought these cookies were a long, laborious work of art reserved only for special occasions.
As an adult my perception has changed. You do need time to chill the dough, but the rolling doesn’t take long, and the double dusting of powdered sugar is pretty quick too. It’s my time in the kitchen to sit, reflect and create. A rarity in a busy house and a true treasure this time of year. A glass of bubbly on the side keeps the baking festive.
A printable version of the recipe follows.
- 1 cup soft butter
- ½ cup sifted powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2¼ cup flour
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ¾ cup finely chopped nuts
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- Mix together the first three ingredients.
- In a separate bowl sift flour and salt together. Add mixture to butter in two or three batches.
- Use a coffee bean grinder to chop nuts to nearly a paste. Nuts should look like wet sand. This method of over chopping creates a more creamy tea cake compared to cookies made with finely chopped nuts. Blend nuts into dough.
- Chill at least 30 minutes.
- Roll dough into ¾ inch ball.
- Place on un-lined, un-greased cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes at 400 degrees until set but not brown on top. (To test, lift one cookie off the sheet, bottom should be golden brown.)
- While still warm, roll cookie in powdered sugar. Handle with care, cookies are extremely delicate.
- Cool. Powdered sugar will melt into cookie, creating a soft creamy outer layer.
- Roll in powdered sugar a second time.