Friday, June 23, 2006

Russian Tea Cakes

mexican wedding cookies

A cookie by any other name is still a cookie. Except when it’s a cookie, a cake, a ball and a tart – that is, a Mexican wedding cookie, a Russian tea cake, a butter ball, or a sand tart. This rich, buttery, melt-in-your-mouth cookie is known by a variety of names and can be made with a variety of nuts. Walnuts, pecans, almonds, and hazelnuts are all good choices. I roll them in powdered sugar twice – once while they’re still warm from the oven and again after they’ve cooled. The dough doesn’t spread too much so I normally fit 18 cookies per half sheet pan.

Russian Tea Cakes
(adapted from Star’s Desserts by Emily Luchetti)
makes 36 cookies

6 oz walnuts, toasted
6 tbsp granulated sugar
½ lb (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temp.
½ tsp vanilla paste (or extract)
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ tsp salt
powdered sugar (for rolling)

Preheat oven to 325 F. Put the walnuts and 2 tbsp granulated sugar in a food processor and finely grind. Set nut mixture aside. In medium bowl, sift flour and salt. Set dry ingredients aside.

Combine the butter and remaining 4 tbsp granulated sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla. Add the flour and salt. Add the ground nut-sugar mixture. Mixing after each addition until just incorporated.

Form dough into 1-inch balls and place onto parchment lined cookie sheet pans. Bake until light brown about 20 minutes. While they are warm, roll the cookies in powdered sugar. Let cool completely. Roll in powdered sugar again.

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