Cooking, How to Guides

Cozy Winter Baking

The holiday season may be over, but it’s never too late to make cookies! Cookies are a great treat year round, but warm cookies in the winter can’t be beat. Gingerbread, shortbread, thumb prints, Linzer tarts, rugelach… my list of favorites goes on and on. One of my all -time favorite cookies to bake this time of year are Russian Tea Cakes. If you’ve never had the pleasure of eating Russian tea cakes before, they are buttery, nutty, sort of crumbly, and melt in your mouth. These cookies go perfect with a cup of tea, are shaped like snowballs and covered in powdered sugar. They are a classic holiday cookie that is baked all over the world. Better yet, they require minimal baking skill and just a few ingredients.

It is unknown where Russian Tea Cakes originated. Some say that the shortbread style cookie began appearing in Russia in the 18th century to compliment the tea during a tea-sharing ceremony hence the name “Russian tea cakes” and supposedly traveled to Mexico by Eastern European nuns where it is known as the Mexican Wedding Cake. Other countries adapted the recipe and it varies slightly depending on the type of nut, flavoring added and amounts of sugar to flour. No matter what you call it (snowballs, Mexican, Italian or Swedish wedding cakes, butterballs or Russian tea cakes) there is a reason why everyone around the world loves these buttery cookies!

Watch my video to see how easy they are to make.

Recipe

  • 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar, plus extra for rolling
  • 2 and 1/4 cups flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line a baking tray with parchment paper or a silicone mat. Set aside.

  1. Whisk together the butter, vanilla, and powdered sugar until smooth and combined.
  2. Add the flour and salt, and mix to form a soft, but not sticky, dough. Fold in the chopped nuts.
  3. Using a tablespoon, roll the dough into balls and place 2 inches apart on the parchment lined tray.
  4. Bake for 12 – 14 minutes until slightly browned on the bottoms and firm enough that they don’t crumble.
  5. Roll the warm cookies in powdered sugar and allow to cool completely on the wire rack.
  6. Once cooled, roll in powdered sugar one more time.

If you’re up for trying something a bit more challenging but just as delicious, check out this Rugelach!

Looking to bake your next holiday favorite? Click here for a booklist of some our our favorite baking cookbooks.

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