My cousin Shirley and I had several baking sessions during the Christmas season. We baked and chatted and had so much fun. She remembered recipes she and my Auntie Agnes had baked together when she was young. Although her mom is no longer with us, Shirley said Russian tea cakes were one of their favorites. My mom used to make them as well so it was a double dose of memories!
We used Auntie Agnes’ recipe, which was the same as my Mom’s and also the recipe on the Betty Crocker website. Our moms were Betty Crocker followers back then. We used almonds for the finely chopped nuts as Shirley remembered her mom using them. I’m not usually an almond fan but they work for me in these cookies. The cookies have several names but I always think of them as the Russian tea cakes.
We started by chopping the almonds in the food processor. I’m not sure how long it took women to chop them before food processors were invented but I’m pretty sure I’d have been too lazy to chop them. A few pulses and the nuts were very finely and perfectly chopped.
In a bowl we mixed the butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and vanilla. We stirred in the flour, nuts and salt until the dough came together in a ball.
I’m a cookie scoop kinda person so Shirley scooped 1″ balls of dough and set them on a plate. I rolled them in my hands to smooth them and set them on the baking pan.
Each pan baked for the full 12 minutes in the preheated oven. I placed the balls on a rack to cool and when they were cool enough to handle Shirley rolled them in powdered sugar. When they were fully cooled she rolled them in powdered sugar a second time.
We put the tea cakes into a plastic container, covered them tightly for storage. They were, of course, delicious! I’ve always managed to choke on the powdered sugar so I warn you to beware. Don’t try to breathe and chew. Ha!
Mexican Wedding Cakes/Russian Tea Cakes
1 cup butter; softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups finely chopped nuts (I used almonds ground in the food processor)
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 400ºF.
Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl. Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
Scoop dough into 1″ balls using a cookie scoop. Further smooth by rolling balls in your hand. Place 1″ apart on ungreased baking pan.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until set but not brown. Remove from cookie sheet and cool on a rack just until cool enough to handle.
Roll warm cookies in a bowl of powdered sugar and cool completely on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar a second time and store in covered container.