It's one of those cookies I remember loving as a kid. Covered in powdered sugar and dressed up like little snowballs, they were easy to spot in any bakery case. I always knew that if I picked that particular cookie, it would be satisfying where others often fell short. I have always called them Russian Tea Cakes, but they are also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies, Butterballs, or Polvorones. Historically, these cookies were gifted to guests at weddings. Much like other traditional wedding favors such as Jordan Almonds, the Wedding Cookies were filled with symbolic ingredients. Nuts for fertility, rich ingredients to bless the marriage with a rich and full life, and the powdered sugar representing purity.
Because of their snowy appearance they are mostly popular today during the holiday season. Since they are just as delicious to adults as they are to children, I would make them often in the restaurants I worked in to accompany ice cream or be a part of a cookie plate. Feel free to play with the recipe and use other nuts like pistachios, almonds, or hazelnuts. Make them smaller, shape them into crescents, or slice them from formed logs. Most importantly, don't wait until December to make them.
|Russian Tea Cakes|
|4 cups||all-purpose flour|
|1 cup||powdered sugar|
|16 ounces||unsalted butter|
|2 teaspoons||vanilla extract|
|2 cups||pecans or walnuts, chopped|
|1 tablespoon||lemon zest|
|Combine all ingredients and blend thoroughly.|
|Roll the dough into 1 inch balls or roll into ropes and slice.|
|Bake at 325 F until golden and firm.|
|Cool completely and roll in powdered sugar.|