My paternal grandmother, Mema, was the coolest lady. She loved: Meryl Streep, Scandinavian trinkets, walking slow, ironing, Palmolive, the smell of Lysol, polo shirts, khaki skirts, old children's books, cross-stich, mauve nail polish, sugar cubes, singing to us in the morning to wake us up, huge colored bulbs on the Christmas tree (always colored!) telling stories about trolls and many, many other things that I could fill loads of pages with. I remember quite distinctly though, her Russian Tea Cakes.
They were in a cylinder tin on the hoosier cabinet in the kitchen, just next to the tea. I would use the little wooden stool and climb up and grab one in secret (or so I thought), nervous when the wax paper around them would make so much noise! Then I would open the door on the base of the hoosier and sit behind it pressed up next to the wall by the radiator. I would eat ten a day. Funny, the tin never emptied...
Russian Tea Cakes are a ball-shaped short-bread based cookie, with walnuts--some people use pecans--rolled in powdered sugar. They are easy to bite into and melt in your mouth. What I love about this cookie aside from the short list of ingredients is that what looks simple and not exciting is the actually an insanely delectable cookie. It took my husband about sixteen years to figure this out, and we've been married for twenty.
Now he's the one who hides with them.
"I absolutely use wax paper in a tin when storing these. It must be wax paper."
Notes: Butter is unsalted.
RUSSIAN TEA CAKES
Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, pinch of salt, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for rolling, 1 cup chopped walnuts.
Makes about 28 cookies.
1. Preheat oven to 350* and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Mix in the vanilla.
3. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until combined, batter will be crumbly. Add in 1/2 cup powdered sugar, and mix until just combined. Fold in walnuts.
4. Scoop and roll into 1 1/2 inch balls, place on baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until set but not colored. Remove to cool completely.
5. Roll tea cakes in powdered sugar and store in an airtight container up to 2 weeks.
Tip: If your kitchen is particularly warm, you may want to chill the dough for up to thirty minutes before rolling into balls.