When I was little I loved paging through my mom’s Betty Crocker Cooky Book, which by the time I came around had seen better days. I loved the book because there was a section on favorite cookies of different eras, and the history buff in me enjoyed reading about the prevailing cookie trends of the past. I distinctly remember the pictures of the Christmas candy cane cookies, which we never made but looked intriguing, and the butterscotch brownies, which I made all the time after taking my first home ec class in sixth grade. I got my mom a new Cooky Book for Christmas several years ago, so now it has all the pages and everything.
Not long ago I asked my mom for the recipe for her Russian tea cakes, which are vastly superior to any other Russian tea cakes I’ve ever eaten. I’ve also heard these called Mexican wedding cakes, but the basic idea is a small, ball-shaped cookie studded with chopped pecans and rolled in powdered sugar.
I’ve had a lot of these in Christmas cookie trays, and most of them don’t hold a candle to my mom’s version. Hers are ever so slightly crisp on the outside, and meltingly tender on the inside. Not chewy or crunchy. The powdered sugar should mostly cling to the cookie, but you’re definitely going to get some on your hands or your shirt. The pecans should be well-distributed throughout the cookie without being large enough to protrude from the lumpy-planet shape.
There are a lot of variables, you see. (That, and I am picky.)
Anyway when my mom sent me the recipe, she noted that it is from the good old Betty Crocker Cooky Book. I finally got around to trying them last night and we had them with tea while watching Downton Abbey. They were good!
That picture is kind of garbage but you get the point. If anything these might have been the tiniest bit underbaked in the middle, which is just fine with me. If you bake these until they are browned you miss the whole point of the cookie as far as I’m concerned.
Also, this prompted me to order my own copy of The Betty Crocker Cooky Book and it will be here Wednesday. Hooray Amazon Prime!
Russian Tea Cakes
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
Mix butter, sugar and vanilla thoroughly. Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting. Stir flour and salt together; blend in. Mix in nuts. Chill dough about an hour.
Heat oven to 400 degrees. Roll dough in 1” (or slightly smaller) balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet. (Cookies do not spread.) Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until set but not brown. While still warm, roll in confectioner’s sugar. Cool. Roll in sugar again. Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
From the Betty Crocker Cooky Book