Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Russian Tea Cakes - and a Giveaway

Yesterday Mindy posted about Butter Spritz cookies. Those were definitely a favorite with my girls when they were growing up. But somewhere along the line, the family favorite changed over from spritz to Russian Tea Cakes.

These super easy, delicious treats look like little snowballs.

They also camouflage themselves as pfeffernusse which means a lot of people pass them by, mistaking them for their spicier Dutch cousins. The better for those of us who know of their secret goodness!!!

While we're sharing cookbooks, let me show you the shape of the one this recipe comes from. It's so old (See copyright below) and tattered, and it falls open automatically to the Russian Tea Cakes page.

I love the introduction. (Click to enlarge.)

These are SO easy, I almost hate to give it away.

The recipe calls for:
1 cup of butter
1/2 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups of flour
1/4 teaspoon of salt (I never add this. I just use salted butter instead of sweet)
3/4 cups of chopped pecans

Additional powdered sugar to roll the cookies in.

So first you soften the butter. If you're in a rush, you can use the microwave (because this recipe is pretty forgiving). 

Cream the butter and sugar and add vanilla and try to avoid eating it all at this point because the dough is SO good.

Mix in flour, salt (if you're using it) and pecans.

This is where I also like to play with substitutions. Mini-chocolate chips work GREAT! I've been known to use rainbow sprinkles for colorful fun.

And this year I bought these.

Oh my stars.  I am going to have to find lots of excuses to bake with these babies!

So you roll them into little balls and bake at 400 degrees for 12 - 15 minutes. As soon as you take them out, you (carefully) roll the hot cookies in the powdered sugar. Once they've cooled, you roll them again.

And then you have something pretty like this.

The Betty Crocker website has a cool adaptation where you basically create a solid chocolate middle. Check that out here. Chocolate-Filled Russian Tea Cakes

FoodGawker has an entire page on possible variations. Ahhhhh. So many pretty cookies.

Russian Tea Cakes

And now for the giveaway.

It's a year old, but I still have a few copies of Christmas in Hiding, so if you want in on the drawing, just let me know.  The heroine, Callie, LOVES everything Christmas, but it's hard to celebrate when you're running for your life! Fortunately, she has Jackson to help.


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  2. Those look delicious!! I must say you had me at the bag of HEATH Toffee. Bits!! What time shall I be there to try them?!?! They look amazing!! Thanks for sharing!! I think the book looks intriguing, too. Please include me in the drawing.

    1. I agree, Lisa. I adore anything HEATH! I confess I've been eating these out of the bag.

      Thanks for visiting. I'm happy to include you in the drawing.

  3. I loved Christmas in Hiding! I read it on my way back from North Carolina last year, and finished the entire book on the trip home. What a wonderful talent for suspense you have, my friend!

    I love Heath toffee bits. I use them in chocolate chip cookies and in brownies. They totally dress up a simple brownie mix into something wonderful.

    Our renovated floor gets its final coat today... and then we can move things back and start a fire in the wood stove. Which is good because we heat with wood and tonight's overnight low is 12 degrees... so the floor is being finished just in time.

    We've run space heaters the past three days. A little crazy, but we've managed!

  4. I have to laugh about the cookbook date, I was 29 with 3 kids by then. Lol
    I love these cookies and would love to win any old thing! Blessings sweet girl!

    1. Hi Anniem.

      My first had just been born the previous year. I guess that explains why I was focused on Christmas cookies.

      Blessings reflected back on you, Anniem.

  5. Mary Cate, you stole my post for next week. Believe it or not, I have that exact same cookbook and use that same recipe for my Russian Tea Cakes. I don't veer from the recipe, though. I like them just the way they are.

    I do think the name is a bit misleading, though. Sure these cookies are good with tea, but they're definitely not a dunking cookie. Well, unless you like your tea sweetened, which I don't. So I'll just savor these little gems by themselves. And I do mean savor, while I decide which holiday treat I'm going to post about next week. ;)

  6. I loved Christmas in Hiding too -- so Christmasy -- equal to the romance and the suspense. Awesomesauce! So, obviously don't enter me in the draw.

    I've never heard of Russian Tea Cakes but I'm pretty sure I've seen them in bakeries...or something that looks very like them. Not the gentile sweet for public consumption though since it looks like it would be snowing powdered sugar with every bite. LOL

    1. Thanks, Kav. You were my first review for Christmas in Hiding. :) I still remember it fondly.

      The ones you see in bakeries are probably the pfeffernusse. They're totally different and usually are hard. These are very crumbly. And yes - powdered sugar pretty much gets everywhere. But they're so good, you don't care.

  7. Thank you for this recipe! My mother used to make these for Christmas, but somehow I missed the recipe. I'll be adding these to our selection this year. :)

    And I'm with Anniem, feeling old as I look at the copyright date on your cookbook. It really does seem like it was only a few years ago, right?

  8. These are one of my top 5 favorite cookies. They're also called "Mexican Wedding Cookies" but I always just call them snowballs. Southern Living has a recipe that calls for lime zest and coconut, a fun take these! Thanks for sharing your recipe and Merry Christmas!

    1. Hi, Josee.
      Yes, I think Mexican Wedding Cookies may have been the first name I knew for them.

      I saw one reference that gave all these names: Mexican Wedding Cookies or Russian Teacakes or Mexican Teacakes,or Russian Wedding Cookies or Snowballs or Butterballs.

      I'll just go with delicious! Or maybe addictive.

      Thanks fors topping by to share the treats.

  9. We make these every Christmas... And other times, too. They're "melt in your mouth" delicious!

    1. They really do. Unfortunately it's way too easy to eat too many.

  10. Sorry to be missing in action. For some reason I couldn't reply from my phone and I just got home from work.

    Thanks everyone for stopping by.

  11. Russian Tea Cakes (Wedding Cookies as we call them)is a favorite for my youngest brother. Thank you for sharing. A used cookbook has character and love. Thank you for sharing. Yes, I would enjoy reading Christmas in Hiding. I'll read books that are even older than a year when I discover them and they are in the various genres I read. Thank you for sharing and the giveaway. God bless. Merry Christmas.

  12. I definitelt going to have to mmhese. Thank you for the chance to win "Christmas in Hiding".

  13. I bet I would love these! Thanks for sharing, Mary Cate! I love your cookbook!