Russian Tea Cookies


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Marry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everybody! Wherever you are, I hope you are enjoying some delicious food together with your family and friends!

This Christmas, I decided to bake some cookies and give them to my friends. I got my tins and wrapping paper at a Container Store and set on baking. I have to tell you the truth, I had never baked cookies before. I’ll tell you more: I don’t remember my Mom or Grandma (oh Gosh!) bake cookies ever! Cakes and pies – sure thing, but cookies – never.

I found this recipe in my Bon Appetit Cookbook. These buttery, crumbly pieces of heaven are actually known under two names – Russian Tea Cookies, or Mexican Wedding Cookies. I know, its confusing. I have no idea why they have a double name. I did not grow up eating these cookies, and only tried them in the States. I first bought them at a fantastic supermarket, Russo’s and Sons, in Watertown, MA. When I mentioned them to an American friend of mine, she exclaimed “Oh, the Russian Tea Cookies! Of course, they are so good!”

The book says this recipe makes 48 cookies. My dough yielded about 35-40 cookies. I followed the recipe precisely but next time I’d throw in 1/4 teaspoon of salt with the flour to take the flavor even further.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (2 sticks or 8 ounces) butter, room temperature
  • 2 cups powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup walnuts
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

Using electric mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy. Add 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla; beat until well blended. Beat in flour, then nuts. Divide dough in half; form each half into ball. Wrap separately in plastic; chill until cold, about 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk remaining 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar and cinnamon, if using, in pie dish to blend. Set cinnamon sugar aside.

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Working with half of chilled dough, roll dough by 2 teaspoonfuls between palms into balls. Arrange balls on heavy large baking sheet, spacing 1/2 inch apart. Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 18 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet. Gently toss warm cookies in cinnamon sugar to coat completely. Transfer coated cookies to rack and cool completely. Repeat procedure with remaining half of dough. (Cookies can be prepared 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature; reserve remaining cinnamon sugar.)

Sift remaining cinnamon sugar over cookies and serve.

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