Shortbread with Powdered Sugar
Russian Tea Cakes are a non-rising shortbread cookie made with butter, powdered sugar, vanilla, flour, and chopped nuts. Bake them to perfection until they’re just a little bit brown. Once they have cooled, roll them in more powdered sugar. I store mine in an airtight container with extra powdered sugar. Before serving, just gently turn the bowl over to give the cookies a fresh coat of powdered sugar.
Russian Tea Cakes or Mexican Wedding Cakes?
You also might know these cookies better as Mexican Wedding Cakes. I have a fun elementary school memory of performing the Mexican Hat Dance with my class, and at the end of the program, each class had provided a treat for all to share. I think my mom must have made these, because she was always involved in PTA and helping wherever she could during our growing-up years.
But even back then, I grew up calling these Russian Tea Cakes.
How To Easily Mix and Form Russian Tea Cakes
Softened butter is a big key to success in combining all of the flour in these butter cookies. Have you seen the life hack to place a warmed glass over a stick of butter to soften it? Today, I had two sticks of butter plus my powdered sugar and vanilla already in a mixing bowl, and the butter wasn’t soft enough. So I placed an oven-proof dinner plate into the oven that was preheating for just a couple minutes. Using a potholder, I pulled it out and placed it on top of my glass mixing bowl for a very short time – one minute. The butter was perfect for creaming together the sugar, butter, and vanilla.
After getting those three ingredients completely combined, add the flour a little bit at a time, plus the salt. I continue working it with the electric mixer even as it gets thick. Once the flour has all been incorporated, add the finely chopped pecans and do a final mix.
Instead of rolling individual balls, you can choose to roll a log (on a silpat mat works great!) and cut discs. You can line them up and bake as they are. Or, give each one a very quick roll (I did three motions back and forth for rounded but not perfect cakes), and then a very gentle two-finger press.
Whether round, flat, or oblong; and whether you call them Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, or Snowballs, these cookies are perfect at Christmastime!
Russian Tea Cakes
- 1 c soft margarine
- 1/2 c powdered sugar
- 1 t vanilla
- 2 1/4 c flour
- 1/4 t salt
- 3/4 c finely chopped nuts we like pecans
- Thoroughly stir until all crumbs are incorporated. Roll into 1" balls. Place on ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400° for 12-15 minutes until set just barely starting to turn brown on the bottom. Let cool. Roll in powdered sugar. Give them a second coat of powdered sugar before serving.
Other Shortbread Cookies: