Russian Teacakes

Let’s be honest. It is a little exhausting to make a dozen different kinds of cookies/candies for one big event. My best friend reminded me that I said the same thing last year in the days leading up to our cookie party…but apparently I forgot. At least it’s a delicious way to wear myself out!

So rather than tell you some engaging story about how much I love Russian teacakes (or perhaps you know them as Mexican wedding cakes…), I am just going to assume you love nutty little balls of cookie covered in confectioner’s sugar, and that you desire nothing more than for your kitchen to be covered in a fine film of powdery sweetness, and just give you this recipe! Make the cookies. You will like them.

Without further ado…

These cookies are mostly easy to make, but you will get to play a little game of hot potato with yourself at the end when you are coating the cookies with confectioner’s sugar. Don’t worry, when it ends in a mouthful of buttery melt-in-your-mouth, it’s worth the juggling act.

Start by creaming the butter, ½ cup powdered sugar, and vanilla extract. It’s not necessary to sift the sugar, but if you want to get fancy with it, you certainly can.

Meanwhile, chop up the pecans into itty bitty tiny pieces. I mean get them really good and small. You want the subtle taste of pecans to permeate the dough without making it chunky.

Mix the flour, pecans, and salt into the dough. The dough will be very stiff, but should appear smooth when ready. Try to scrape the sides of the bowl at least once to make sure there is nothing that didn’t get fully incorporated hanging out on the edges.

Use a knife or a spoon to divide the dough into four equal parts in the bowl. Scoop out one quarter of the dough and pinch it off into 12 pieces. You want them to turn out evenly, so you can either eyeball the resulting 12 chunks of dough or pick them all up to make sure none of them are dramatically lighter or heavier. When you are satisfied, roll the dough pieces into little balls.

Bake for 10 minutes at 400°. (Meanwhile, shape the next 12 cookies.)

As soon as the cookies come out of the oven, roll them in confectioner’s sugar. Yes, they are hot, and it doesn’t seem like the sugar is sticking…your fingers are weirdly crusted with warm, slightly buttery sugar…but roll them in sugar while they are hot or else there’s no point. I promise after about the first three they won’t even seem hot anymore (see: fingers covered in sugar). Set them aside to cool down completely.

When all 4 dozen of the cookies have baked and received their first coating of sugar, and they are all completely cool, coat them again. I found that, in total, I needed about 2 cups extra confectioner’s sugar to coat the cookies. Notice how well the sugar sticks the second time! Yum.

Russian Teacakes

from my mom
makes 4 dozen

1 cup salted butter, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar, plus extra
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2¼ cups flour
¼ tsp. salt
¾ cup finely chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 400°.
Thoroughly mix butter, sugar, and vanilla. Work in flour, salt, and nuts until dough holds together.
Shape dough into 1″ balls. Place on an ungreased baking sheet.
Bake 10–12 minutes, or until set but not brown. While warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again.


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