Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Christmas Cookies: Russian Tea Cakes

Note: Americans call these cookies. My British friends call them biscuits. Either name, they taste wonderful.

Who knows where these cookies really came from? The first cookbook I used to make them called them Mexican Wedding Cakes, later I have heard them called Swedish Tea Cakes, Sugar Nut Balls, Pecan Sandies . . . I bet there are more. Russian Tea Cakes is just the name I like the best.

These cookies are the easiest. If you only do one cookie this year, this one is it. They store easily – you can even store them in layers, as long as you use a piece of waxed paper between the layers, otherwish the moisture in the cookie will soak into the powdered sugar. And they melt in your mouth.

You will need at least two cookie baking sheets (flat or low lipped metal pans you find in the baking goods area) and two or more racks for cooling the cookies on. (A food processor helps this recipe go very fast. Chop the nuts first, empty into a bowl, then cream the butter and sugar.)

You will need powdered sugar, also called confectioners sugar – what a Godsend. I don’t even bother with a sifter, just use a good seive, put the powdered sugar in and tap the side of the seive with a spoon, and the sugar will sprinkle finely wherever you need it.

Heat the oven to 400 F/200 C. You don’t even grease the cookie sheets for these, because they have so much butter in them.

For these cookies, though, you have to cool them JUST ENOUGH, and then roll them in a small bowl of confectioner’s/powdered sugar. They have to be warm enough that the sugar wants to stick to them. Too cool and the sugar won’t stick so thickly. Too hot and you will burn your fingers!

1 cup butter, softened (a pint’s a pound the world round. That means that four sticks of butter make a pound, a pint is equal to 2 cups, so 2 sticks of butter equal one cup One stick of butter equals 1/2 cup.)

1 cup powdered sugar

When butter is softened, mix the butter and sugar together. You can do this with a fork, but it sure is easy in a food processor, or a mixer, especially if you are doubling or tripling this recipe. When butter and sugar are well mixed, add in the following:

1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups white flour
1 cup finely chopped walnuts (pecans are wonderful if you can find them, and if they don’t cost an arm and a leg)

Now, take pinches about the size of a large date, or walnut, and roll them into a ball. When you put it on the cookie tray, flatten it slightly. I don’t know why. It’s just the way this cookie is made.

Pop the tray into the heated oven, set your timer for 8 – 10 minutes.

While the first batch is cooking, pour some powdered sugar in a small bowl.

Keep making balls, put them on the second pan while the first pan of cookies is baking. When the first batch is finished cooking, you can just pop the second batch in.

Check the cookies when the timer rings. They will be a light golden brown when they are ready. Take them out of the oven, and let them sit for about four minutes, so that they are warm, but not hot. Roll them in powdered sugar in a small bowl, and quickly put them on a rack until they are thoroughly cool. Do not pack them up until they are totally cool or they will absorb the powdered sugar when they are in the container.

This makes about 50 cookies. They are so easy . . . go ahead. Double the recipe.

You will see that I have given you a lot of extra instruction for your first time. Once you have done these and you know how easy they are, just use the bold, you won’t need all the blah-blah-blah!


I borrowed this beautiful photo from a website where you can BUY these cookies, so if you would rather buy the cookies, you can do it here.

November 27, 2006 - Posted by | Christmas, Cooking, ExPat Life, Recipes


  1. […] Earlier in the blog, I gave you the recipe for Russian Tea Cakes. They go by many names, including Swedish Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, Sandies . . . the list is endless. […]

    Pingback by Walnut Mamoul « Here There and Everywhere | December 17, 2006 | Reply

  2. Just like my grandma used to make. And she called them Russian Tea Balls. Thanks!

    Comment by Robin Garvin | December 13, 2009 | Reply

  3. […] Russian Teacakes Recipe […]

    Pingback by Christmas Cookies – Check! « Here There and Everywhere | December 19, 2010 | Reply

  4. […] light, and melt-in-your-mouth, are the Russian Teacakes, snowy in powdered […]

    Pingback by Christmas Cookie Prep – Done! « Here There and Everywhere | December 13, 2012 | Reply

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