Yes, yes, my greeting, along with blogposts, are a tad bit delayed. Nonetheless, it’s never too late for a good dessert recipe.
There’s actually quite a story behind my Russian Tea Cake mini obsession. Three years ago, I took an interim position at another department and met a funny group of people who have now become good friends. For every season, we decorated what we called our bullpen. Naturally, for Christmas, we decorated and hung stockings on our door. This was completely for decoration, but we found that some good-spirited stranger left us some treats in our stockings. They were these cookies covered with powdered sugar. It took us a good 30 seconds to debate AND decide that we should eat treats coming from a stranger.
Who doesn’t love anything that’s covered in powdered sugar? Perhaps only Ms. C. It certainly is an easy sell for me. So, for a month or so following that Christmas that we received these treats, I searched and searched on what this goody could possibly be called. I Googled almond, nut, and powdered sugar. And, I found it under different names. These Russian Tea Cakes are traditional Christmas desserts but they’re also apparently Mexican wedding cakes. Now there’s two cultures that couldn’t be further from each other, but seemed to have a united dessert. I’m sure the moniker Almond Snowballs was it’s American version.
Anyhoo, I hope you enjoy these as much as I enjoy each bite of mine
2 cups of all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons of powdered sugar (but just for good measure, I’d recommend adding an extra tablespoon)
2 cups chopped almonds or walnuts
1 cup butter (make sure you have this at room temperature – soft but not oily. In a cold winter day, I took the butter out to soften for 6 hours.)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
And a bowl of powdered sugar for coating.
This measurement makes about 3 dozens of bite size Russian tea cakes.
How to do it:
1. Preheat oven at 350 degrees F.
2. In a medium bowl, combine flour and powdered sugar.
3. In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with vanilla extract by mixing it in medium speed.
4. Add the flour and powdered sugar mixture to the butter and continue to mix at medium speed. So at this point, it looks dry and I actually thought I was doing it all wrong. But, that is how it’s supposed to look.
5. Add the chopped nuts to the mix. This is when the oils of the nuts make the mixture moist.
6. When the mixture is evenly blended, roll them up into 1 inch balls. (Just a note for the calorie conscious, these bite sizes can be dangerous as you may grab more pieces than you can afford to be guilty for. )
7. Place them on a cookie sheet, about 2 inches apart. I filled up 3 cookie sheets for this.
8. Bake the cakes for 12 – 17 minutes. So, I tried 12 minutes first and it was more crumbly than it should be. I put it back in the oven for 4 minutes more. Basically, the cakes have to of course hold its form when you grab it, but crumbly enough when you bite into it.
9. Let them cool for a while, and once it does, roll each one in the bowl of powdered sugar. Coat as much as you want.
Hope you enjoy them! Happy holidays!! (On a personal note, I actually preferred them after a couple of hours that it’s been sitting. I’m not sure why, but I think it has something to do with the oils of the nuts that’s seeped into the flour.)