Monday, December 15, 2008

Russian Teacakes (Christmas Cookies 3)

Russian Teacakes are also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes and probably several other names besides! This is one of the Betty Crocker specials. The original recipe calls for walnuts or almonds, but I've only ever made them with walnuts. In recent years, I've briefly toasted the walnuts first, too, to enhance the flavor. You could easily skip this step since the difference it makes is subtle.

In my household, one of the things that made Christmas extra special was that we got to use REAL butter. There was this weird mystique about it. At all other times of year, cookies were made with stick margarine. In fact, for a while, I think I preferred the taste of margarine because butter was so strange to me. These days, I only use unsalted butter for all of my cooking needs. I think they make trans-fat free margarine now, but I'm not sure if it can be used in baking. I've also heard that coconut oil can be substituted for butter if you're so inclined.

1 c. (2 sticks, 1/2 lb) butter
1/2 c. sifted evaporated cane juice powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or 11 1/4 ounces)
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 c. chopped walnuts (toasting optional)
Evaporated cane juice powdered sugar for rolling

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees, make sure oven racks are positioned in the middle and prepare two baking trays
  2. In a medium bowl, weigh or scoop the flour. Stir in the salt and set aside
  3. Cream together the butter and powdered sugar (using a stand mixer, hand mixer, or your arms)
  4. Add the vanilla extract and mix
  5. Add the flour/salt mixture a little at a time and mix
  6. Add the chopped nuts and mix
  7. Roll dough into balls the size of a walnut. These cookies don't spread, so you can fit more on a baking sheet than the other recipes
  8. Bake 10-12 minutes or until set and lightly golden
  9. Immediately roll the hot cookies in powdered sugar. This will melt a bit into the cookie and provide a nice base layer
  10. Once the cookies are fully cooled, roll a second time in powdered sugar to make them look like snowballs
  11. Store in an airtight container. Cool cookie sheets before making next round

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