Russian Tea Cakes are a melt-in-your mouth shortbread-like cookie that goes by many names; a Mexican Wedding Cake, an Italian Butter Nut, a Southern Pecan Butterball, a Snowdrop, a Viennese Sugar Ball and a Snowball. They are very popular, not only during the Christmas season, but also at weddings, christenings, and other festive occasions.
These little morsels are also easy to make and don’t require any special ingredients. As much as I love trying new recipes, I truly enjoy making (and eating) the classics most of all. I remember making these cookies with my mom when I was younger. I’ll be bringing these cookies to work today for our “cookie day” to celebrate the last day of classes for students on campus.
Russian Tea Cakes
Makes about 4 dozen
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 pecans, toasted and finely ground
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. 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 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.
Heather’s Helpful Hints
Make sure your cookies aren’t too big when you are rolling your dough. When the cookies are closer to two inches, they dry out easily when you’re baking them. You definitely want one inch balls so don’t be afraid to whip out a ruler to make sure. The smaller balls get a little larger while they are baking and are just perfect.