“Good things come in small packages.”
… as do delicious, tasty little bite sized Russian Tea Cake morsels. Growing up, my sisters and I used to make them with our mom every Christmas, and it became a tradition that I’ve carried on while living overseas the past couple years.
I enjoy making them as little Christmas gifts for people like our concierge building attendant and his family, our friendly neighbors at the local cafe and market, friends or clients and my husband’s office (browning points!). Back in San Francisco I used to make them for my team/colleagues which were always a hit too. They’re nothing fancy, but I find that people love them – and it’s really just the thought that counts.
The recipe is no secret, in fact, I use the Betty Crocker one, but there are a few secret ingredients… patience, love and possibly some Christmas/holiday music playing cheerfully in the background!
So here’s the recipe:
- 1 cup butter or margarine, softened (I always use butter, never margarine!)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose flour (any flour will do)
- 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts (or more if you love them!)
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- extra powdered sugar for rolling the cookies once baked
- Heat oven to 400ºF.
- Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
- Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
- Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.
Notes: one batch will make 48-50 cookies and so I always quadruple the recipe to make about 200 pieces. (It was a lot easier when I had the help of my 4 sisters in the kitchen rolling the little 1″ cookies individually!!)
Another important note, although the recipe directions don’t call for it, the cookies turn out better if you chill the dough for at least a couple hours before rolling it into balls. This year I made the dough a couple days in advance, and then when I had some down time I rolled the 200 cookies while watching a movie, and then baked them all.
You’ll want to roll the cookies as soon as they come out of the oven so the powdered sugar sticks/melts, and then again once they’ve cooled off.