Russian Tea Cakes – A Great Holiday Cookie by Any Other Name

As the old joke goes, these Russian tea cakes might not be Russian, but at least they’re not cakes. No one knows exactly how these came to be known as Russian tea cakes, but nevertheless, they are quite delicious, very simple to make, and visually ideal for holiday entertaining.

And when I say “easy,” I mean really easy. You dump everything in a bowl, and mix it with your hands until combined. Professional pastry chefs will lose their minds, since we’re forgoing their precious “cream the butter and sugar” step, but the final product is identical, no matter which technique you use.

The only tricky thing here is the baking time, since there are so many variables. Things like the size of the dough balls, whether you use a silpat or parchment, how light or dark the sheet pan is, etc., can all effect the final time significantly.

I think this cookie tends to get under-cooked, and some recipes call for as little as 12 minutes at 350 F. I like these fairly golden, so I get that nice brown-butter flavor, and that took me about 20 minutes or so, which is why I gave such a wide range. Start checking at 15 minutes, and proceed from there.

Thanks to their snowy appearance, these “cakes” would be perfect for your holiday dessert spread, don’t feel like you have to wait for a wedding, or for some Russians to come over for tea. I really hope you give these a try soon. Enjoy!


Makes about 28 to 32 Russian Tea Cakes:
1 cup (2 sticks) room temperature unsalted butter
1/3 packed cup powdered sugar (plus much more to coat finished cookies)
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (very lightly toast nuts in dry pan first for best results)
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- Roll into just slightly larger than 1-inch balls, bake at 350 F. for 15 to 25 minutes, or until lightly golden

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