Russian tea cakes, also called Mexican wedding cakes or snowballs, are actually cookies rather than cakes. These small, melt-in-your-mouth delights are covered in powdered sugar and are round or crescent in shape.
While popular around the winter holidays, these favorites are a perfect choice any time of the year, as a confectionary complement to hot tea and coffee drinks. They are easy to make with preparation time typically under an hour and cooking time less than 20 minutes, depending on the recipe.
Following are five recipe variations. If you have a favorite tea cake recipe, please let us know. Simply click here to submit your contact information and recipe details.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES:
Recipe created by Chef Emeril Lagasse
1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 325F. Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla then gradually add the 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, measure, and then sift again with the salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the pecans and mix well. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place two inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet.
Flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass, then bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the baking sheet and roll in powdered sugar while still hot. Cool on wire racks and roll cookies again in powdered sugar before serving. Once cooled, cookies may be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.
ALMOND TEA CAKES:
Recipe from the Food Network
3/4 cup sliced almonds
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, sliced and softened
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon fine salt
1 cup confectioners' sugar
Preheat the oven to 325° F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Pulse the almonds and sugar in a food processor until very finely ground. Add the butter and process until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape the dough off the inside of the bowl, if needed. Add the vanilla and almond extracts and pulse to combine. Add the flour and salt and pulse to make a soft dough.
Turn the dough out onto a large piece of waxed paper and roll into a log about 15 inches long and 1 1/2 inches wide. Wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Cut the chilled dough into 1/2-inch pieces and roll by hand into balls.
Space the cookies evenly on the prepared baking sheets and bake until slightly golden, rotating the sheets once, 15 to 20 minutes. Put the confectioners' sugar in a pie plate. Briefly cool the cookies on a rack, then gently toss in the confectioners' sugar until evenly coated. Return to rack, cool, and then toss again in the confectioners' sugar.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES:
Recipe from Cooks.com
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/3 cup soft butter
2 cups. Bisquick
1/2 cups. chopped nuts
1 tsp. vanilla
1-2 tsp. water
Pre-heat oven to 350° F. Mix sugar and butter. Stir in Bisquick, nuts and vanilla. Add enough water to moisten dough. Shape into 1" balls. Place on ungreased sheet.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes (set, not brown). Remove immediately. Cool 5 minutes on rack. Shake in bowl with confectioners' sugar. Makes 3 dozen.
HOLIDAY TEA CAKES:
Recipe from Nestle Companies: VeryBestBaking.com
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups (10-oz. pkg.) chocolate morsels (other flavors can be substituted)
1/2 cup finely chopped nuts
Preheat oven to 375° F. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour; stir in Shapes & Morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.
Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired. Store in airtight containers.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES:
Recipe created by Land O'Lakes
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 cups finely chopped pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla
Heat oven to 325°F. Combine all ingredients except powdered sugar in large mixer bowl. Beat at low speed, scraping bowl occasionally, until well mixed (2 to 3 minutes). Shape rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into 1-inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.
Bake for 18 to 25 minutes or until very lightly browned. Cool 5 minutes; roll in powdered sugar while still warm and again when cool. Makes 3 dozen cookies.