December 15, 2014

Russian Tea Cakes

The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014
This year, I was excited to again participate in the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which brings food bloggers around the world together to celebrate the sweetness of the season.  Food bloggers send three other food bloggers one dozen of homemade cookies.  After everyone receives the cookies, the recipes are posted on the same day for a big virtual cookie fest.  I'm excited that the big reveal day is finally here!

This year, I decided to share a family tradition cookie with three bloggers: Russian Tea Cakes.  This cookie is always on Christmas platters at my family's home at Christmas.  I shared these cookies with Renee at Tortillas and Honey, Jessica at My Baking Heart, and Stacie at the Divine Lifestyle.  I received Hot Chocolate Cookie Cups with Homemade Vanilla Bean Marshmallows from Ashley at Memoirs from my Kitchen, Ginger Shortbread Rounds from Maurita at Go Get the Good Stuff, and Apple Pie Snickerdoodles from Angela at Shake, Bake, and Party.

These cookies go by many names, but I usually call them Russian Tea Cakes (gotta embrace my 1/8 Russian heritage) or pecan balls.  They are also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes, Southern Pecan Balls, Snowdrops, Snowballs, Italian Butternuts, and the list goes on.  While they have many names, they're good.  They all seem to share commonalities: finely chopped nuts and confectioner's sugar.  These cookies have just the right amount of sweet and salty.

Generally, cookies have more sugar than butter, but not these cookies.  Russian Tea Cakes have more butter than sugar.  While they are are buttery, they are not too rich.  There is no egg in these cookies, but they don't flatten because there is flour to bind them along with nuts.  After the cookies finish baking, you roll them in confectioner's sugar while they are still warm.  This makes the confectioner's sugar melt a little, but it then sticks to the cookie.  After the cookies finish cooling, you roll them in more confectioner's sugar.  Then, go grab a glass of milk or a mug of hot chocolate or tea, and enjoy.

For a change of pace, you could even shape the dough into little crescent shapes.  You could also substitute other nuts, like macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, or walnuts.  These cookies keep well, and their flavor is always better the next day.  This recipe is simple to make and is always a crowd pleaser--any time of the year.

What have you been baking lately?

Russian Tea Cakes
Yields 3 dozen

1 cup butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
5 tbsp. confectioner's sugar, plus addition confectioner's sugar for rolling the cookies at the end
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tbsp. water
1 tsp. salt
Extra confectioner's sugar

Preheat oven to 325ºF.

In a stand mixer (or in a large bowl), cream the butter with 5 tbsp. confectioner's sugar.  Then, add the flour, chopped pecans, vanilla extract, water, and salt, and mix until combined.  Shape dough into 1 inch balls and place about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet.  Bake for about 20 minutes until set but not brown.

Remove from oven, and cool slightly for about three to five minutes.  Then, roll the cookies in confectioner's sugar.  After the cookies have cooled completely, you can roll the cookies again in the confectioner's sugar.

Source: My mom and Grammy


  1. One of my all time favorite cookies. Nothing better with a cup of hot coffee. Mmmmm.

  2. I truly enjoyed these cookies! Sometimes these cookies don't have enough buttery flavor for me, but these were spot on and I loved them. Thanks for sharing these with me!

  3. I was in the Secret Santa organized by Claire from Clairekcreations and it's SO hot and humid that I'm sure my gingerbread men collapsed in this heat. I received some pecan ball cookies that arrived as nothing but crumbs. I tried one by eating the crumbs with a spoon. :) I want to make these for myself!

  4. These teacakes look like my kind of cookie - would love to try them for Christmas baking!

    Choc Chip Uru


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