Russian Tea Cakes

More cookie-like than cake, these buttery, melt-in-your-mouth treats are known by many names, including snowball cookies, polvorones and Mexican wedding cakes. I’ve also seen them served up often as popular Christmas cookies in North America. Whatever their name and true origin, they are a popular tea-time snack in Russia. I like them as they are easy to make and not overly sweet, despite being twice-dusted with powdered sugar. You can use whatever variety of nut you prefer; while I love the flavour of walnuts, they are delicious made with almonds or pecans as well.

Reminiscent of shortbread, Russian Tea Cakes have a lovely texture and flavour.

Reminiscent of shortbread, Russian Tea Cakes have a lovely texture and flavour.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (225 g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1.5 –  2 cups (165 – 225 g) powdered (icing) sugar, divided
  • 2 teaspoons (10 mL) vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup (105 g) finely chopped walnuts

Method

  • Using an electric or stand mixer, beat butter in large bowl until light and fluffy.
  • Add 1/2 cup (56 g) of powdered sugar along with the vanilla; beat until very well blended.
  • Beat in flour, then nuts, until everything is evenly blended.
  • Shape the dough into a large ball and flatten to make a disc. Wrap the disc in in plastic and refrigerate for 30 minutes. This will make it easier to handle.
  • Preheat oven to 350°F.
  • With your hands, shape the dough into small balls approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) in diameter, rolling the balls between your palms so they are smooth and even.
  • Arrange dough balls ½ inch (1.25 cm) apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
The cookie dough is easy to shape into little balls.

The cookie dough is easy to shape into little balls.

  • Bake cookies until golden brown on bottom and just pale golden on top, about 15 minutes. Cool cookies 5 minutes on baking sheet.
Be careful not to overbake your Russian Tea Cakes - they should be barely golden on the outside.

Be careful not to overbake your Russian Tea Cakes – they should be barely golden on the outside.

  • Gently toss warm cookies in remaining powdered sugar (start with 1 cup / 110 g and add more to the bowl if needed) to coat thoroughly, then place sugared cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
Toss the still-warm cookies in powdered sugar and then apply a second coating once they have cooled completely.

Toss the still-warm cookies in powdered sugar; apply a second coating once they have cooled completely.

  • Once cooled, toss the cookies a second time in the powdered sugar.
  • If desired, the tea cakes can be prepared 2 days ahead and stored at room temperature in an airtight container; the second coating of powdered sugar should be applied just before serving.

Makes about 4 dozen small cookies.

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About Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I play with words and with food. I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. I'm also an enthusiastic explorer of faraway lands and cuisines.
This entry was posted in Baking, Desserts, Snacks and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Russian Tea Cakes

  1. Pingback: A celebration of Russian food for the 2014 Winter Olympics | Constantly Cooking

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