Russian Tea Cakes
The scariest Russian I’ve ever met, actually the only scary Russian I’ve ever met, gives these cookies a terrifyingly enthusiastic thumbs-up. Frequently traveling under the aliases of Mexican Wedding Cookies and Swedish Tea Cakes, I’ve seen all kinds of nuts used, from walnuts to pecans to peanuts (gack), but the hazelnut lends a little taste of Christmas, which is when I usually make these.
1 C butter
1/2 C confectioners sugar, plus more for coating
1 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 C flour
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 C ground hazelnuts (a food processor is super handy here, a blender also works)
Cream together the butter, 1/2 C confectioners sugar, and the vanilla. Add the flour and salt and combine the mixture with your hands until you can’t find any lumps of unincorporated butter. If you don’t like touching food with your hands, just wait until we get to meatloaf. Add the hazelnuts, and use your hands again to mix until evenly distributed. Wrap up the dough and chill it for two hours.
Set your oven to 400. Put a cup of confectioners sugar in bowl. Roll the dough into 1″ balls and put them on a cookie sheet, pressing them down slightly to form a stable base. Space them 2″ apart; they won’t get bigger in the oven, but spacing them too closely prevents the heat from hitting the sides. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Check them at 8 minutes to make sure the bottoms are not burning, in which case, they’re done! Upon removal from the oven, let them cool on the pan for 15 minutes. Roll each cookie in the powdered sugar to coat completely (I’m guilty of pressing the cookies violently into the sugar to get as much packed on as possible).
Let the finished cookies sit out for a few hours, then put them in an air-tight container lined with paper towels to blot any butter slick that escapes. These are great to bring into work, as long as you make a sign with “contains nuts” in huge type and throw some napkins next to the plate. Otherwise it’ll look like you’ve all been doing coke.