C is for Christmas Cookies! Everyone has a favorite cookie that helps to make their holiday complete. I love sugar cookies, spritz cookies, peanut butter cookies and the kind with the Hershey Kiss stuffed in the middle. My Mom makes awesome chocolate chip cookies but I’d have to say I love her Russian Tea Cakes the best. I was browsing the web and learned they are also known as Povlorones and can be made with chestnuts or almonds. I prefer walnuts myself.
Here is some history I borrowed from Wikipedia: Russian tea cakes appeared in Russia in the 18th century as a confection used in a tea-sharing ceremony. By the 20th century, they were a part of wedding and Christmas traditions in the U.S., known by their popular “Russian tea” name. Mexican Wedding Cookies, and Bizcochitos, the official cookie of the State of New Mexico, are similar except that they have the addition of anise, although, properly made, the anise flavor is very mild. Many cultures have a similar cookie. In Spain, they are called Mantecosos.
My Mom has always used the recipe from the Betty Crocker cookbook, and so do I. Why question perfection? Now, some recipes say you can use margarine – DO NOT BELIEVE THEM! Use butter – it makes the cookies melt in your mouth. Now as for using salted or unsalted butter. That is debatable. I have always used salted butter because I never really knew about unsalted butter. I know they say you should use unsalted for baking, but hey – I know what I grew up on and what I and my family have come to love so I will leave that decision up to you – but the margarine thing – forget it! Trust me!
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 1/4 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup finely chopped nuts – your preference
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Powdered sugar for dusting
Parchment paper for baking
BAKING INSTRUCTIONS – You must be attentive when making these cookies!!!
Heat oven to 400ºF. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl – should be very creamy. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
Shape dough into 1-inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet. Cool slightly on wire rack.
Carefully roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.
Makes anywhere from 2-3 dozen depending on the size of your cookies.