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My paternal grandmother, Mema, called them "Russian Tea Cakes," and she loved them. She also loved Meryl Streep, Scandinavian trinkets, strolling, ironing, Palmolive, the smell of Lysol, polo shirts, khaki skirts, old children's books, cross-stitch, mauve nail polish, sugar cubes, singing to us in the morning to wake us up, giant colored bulbs on the Christmas tree (permanently colored!) telling stories about trolls and many, many other things that I could fill loads of pages with. I remember these little cookies pretty distinctly, though.

They were kept in a cylinder tin on the Hoosier cabinet in the kitchen, 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. The funny thing, though, was the tin never seemed to empty...

This old-fashioned treat is meant to be 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 an insanely delicious 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 waxed paper in a tin when storing these. It must be waxed paper...

Notes: Butter is unsalted.


Ingredients: 1 cup softened butter, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, a pinch of salt, 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for rolling, and 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 the flour and salt. Add to the butter mixture and mix until combined; the 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 and place on baking sheets. Bake for 9-11 minutes, until set but not colored. Remove to cool completely. Roll tea cakes in powdered sugar and store them in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.

Tip: If your kitchen is hot, you may want to chill the dough for up to thirty minutes before rolling it into balls.

#Russian Tea Cakes #snowball cookies #snowball shortbread cookies


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