Often prepared and eaten at Christmastime, Russian Christmas Tea Cakes are made from a mixture of nuts and coated twice in powdered sugar.
Welcome, Dear Reader, to day 15 of Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas series. Today, we are talking about the popular Russian Tea Cakes. But, did you know there is actually no historical explanation as to why these cookies are deemed to be of Russian origin?
According to the internet, where everything one reads is gospel, it’s speculated that the recipe is derived from other Eastern European shortbread cookie recipes. It is believed that the recipe migrated to Mexico with European nuns; there’s also speculation that the cookies earned their name because they are often served beside Russian tea urns.
Whatever the case, by the twentieth century, they became popular on wedding dessert bars, and as a Christmastime confection throughout North America. And, I’m glad to adopt them right here at Lord Byron’s Kitchen as a part of my 24 Cookies of Christmas series. Yesterday, we had Austrian cookies, today we have Russian. Who knows what tomorrow will bring?
Keeping in theme with our cookie countdown advent, I’m trying my best to select cookies that are not only delicious, but are also budget friendly and easy to make. Russian Christmas Tea Cakes are both of those things. There are very few ingredients, so as I have said many times before, when there are very few ingredients, get the best you can find or afford.
The nuts play a big part of this recipe, so be sure to use nuts that are fresh. Nuts, left to sit for a while, can easily and quickly develop a stale flavour. It’s certainly not pleasant and cannot be masked by adding other ingredients. A stale nut will always taste like a stale nut no matter how many ingredients you add to it!
Whenever we buy nuts, we tend to buy only as much as we are going to need or are going to eat. The only exception really is almonds. A natural almond will last forever, it seems. I wouldn’t know, because whenever I buy almonds, I have to literally hide them way in the back of the pantry so that John.e doesn’t eat them. He loves almonds!
Just recently, I removed all of my baking supplies from the pantry and placed them in a wooden crate under the food prep island we have in our dining room. Both John.e and McKenna know that whatever is on that island is completely off limits. The same goes for my big containers that I use to store chocolates, sugars, candies, sprinkles, etc. Off limits!
That doesn’t sound much like the spirit of Christmas, does it? Don’t worry, Dear Reader, they get to eat their fair share of all of these cookies. Someone has to eat them! We’ve both been taking cookies to work and we’ve been putting together cookie care packages for our neighbours too. If you’re wondering, no, we do not have a fridge full of cookies.
I knew, quite frankly, when I started this 24 Cookies of Christmas journey that I would be eating more sugar than I ought to, but like I always say, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make for Lord Byron’s Kitchen. To be completely honest, in many, many instances, I will indulge in only one cookie from each batch. I allow myself to do that for quality control and so that I can explain the taste and texture of the cookie to you!
My take on Russian Christmas Tea Cakes is this: They are delightfully sweet with a crunchy exterior. They’re messy, but delightfully so! You can taste the pecans, the macadamia nuts, and the hazelnuts. And, they simple melt in your mouth. They really are a great little cookie and a perfect addition to any Christmas dessert table.
Tomorrow’s 16th cookie in this series is a popular North American cookie that comes in the form of a cookie and a cake. Of course, I’m posting the cookie version. It will all make perfect sense tomorrow!
In the meantime, while you wait, why not check out the other cookie recipes by clicking on the cookie titles below. There’s enough there now to keep you busy – at least for today!
Lord Byron’s 24 Cookies of Christmas
- Jumbo Marshmallow Balls
- Christmas Peanut Butter Rosettes
- Holiday Cream Cheese Peanut Butter Cookies
- Crispy Chocolate Cookie Cutter Cookies
- Newfoundland Five Star Cookie Bars
- Queen Anne Squares
- Old Fashioned Christmas Cherry Cookies
- Chocolate Coconut Balls
- Rocky Road Fudge Squares
- Chocolate Orange Cookies
- Homemade Newfoundland Jam Jams
- Star Anise Cookies
- Nutella Holiday Truffles
- Traditional Christmas Linzer Cookies
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Russian Christmas Tea Cakes
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner's sugar
- 2 1/4 cup all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup pecans, finely grated (see notes)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Save 2 cups of the confectioner's sugar. Set it aside. Add all of the other ingredients to a large mixing bowl. With a hand-held mixer, mix the ingredients together until a cookie dough forms. Depending just how warm your room temperature butter is, this might take a few minutes. Just keep mixing; it will come together.
- Scoop the dough using a small cookie scoop - about 1 heaping teaspoon. Roll into balls and place on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for exactly 12 minutes.
- While the cookies are baking, sift the remaining two cups of confectioner's sugar into a shallow bowl with a rim.
- Once the cookies come out of the oven, it's important to work very fast. If you tend to be more laid back in the kitchen, you might want to bake the cookies in batches so that you won't have to work so quickly. Transfer 4 or 5 cookies at a time to the bowl with the confectioner's sugar. Very carefully - they are hot! - roll them around in the sugar. Once fully coated, transfer to a wire cooling rack.
- After all the cookies have been coated, save the confectioner's sugar. Allow the cookies to cool for 1 hour. Then, re-coat the cookies a second time in the confectioner's sugar.
- The cookies are now ready to eat. If you are storing the cookies, lay them in a single layer in a container and top with a dusting of the leftover confectioner's sugar. Be sure to sprinkle the sugar between each layer. These cookies can be frozen.
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