Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Russian Tea Cakes

These are my all time favorite Christmas cookie. Whether you call them Russian Teacakes, Snowballs, Mexican wedding cakes, or Crack for People, they always say Christmas to me. Lots of people put their own spin on this classic cookie by adding things like orange zest or green tea. I like mine plain and simple. Why mess with perfection?

Here are a few tips when making these crumbly-in-your-mouth bits of heaven:
1. If your recipe says to roll in balls...it lies. You've got to press them into a ball shape. The heat from your hands melts the butter a little bit and keeps them roughly in a ball shape. If you attempt to roll the dough into a ball shape the whole thing will crumble in your hands and you will want to shoot yourself in the eye. Seriously, its not happy fun times.

2. Use a cookie sheet with a lip. These little cookies are very roly-poly. If you don't, and you get bumped, trip or your pan decides to bend in the heat of the oven, there will be casualties.

3. Be very gentle when rolling the baked cookies in powdered sugar. If you roll the cookies too soon they will most likely break and crumble with the lightest touch. I've found that waiting 3-4 minutes, after they come out of the oven, is a good time for me. You may need to adjust that time depending on the heat of your kitchen.

4. Don't be skimpy with the powdered sugar. These cookies do not have a lot of sugar on the inside so they benefit from the extra sugar on the outside. I like to roll mine at least three times. I'm of the mind set that if you can eat one of these cookies without making a mess down the front of your shirt, you didn't roll them in enough powdered sugar!

Russian Teacakes
1 c butter
1/2 c sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c finely chopped walnuts

Mix butter, sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. In a small bowl, stir flour and salt together. Add flour mix to butter mix. Stir to combine. Stir in nuts. Chill dough overnight. Preheat oven to 400F. Press into 1 inch balls. Bake 10 minutes or til set, but not brown. While cookies are still warm, roll in more powdered sugar. Cool and roll in powdered sugar again. Makes about 4 dozen.

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