We had a running joke at the tearoom that every time Hannah, my baker was off, I made Russian Tea Cakes. It’s a pretty basic recipe that makes a lot of cookies, whips up quickly, stores well, the dough freezes well and everyone seems to LOVE them. For me it was a quick way to make a lot of people happy easily.
Words to live by: We eat with our eyes first. This simple statement dictated every plate that went out of the kitchen at the Pickwick Society Tearoom. Because of that mantra, we tried to always have different shape, flavor and style cookies on each tea tray. It was important to have an assortment of cookies always available to fill a tea tray and make a dessert tray look as appealing as it tasted. It seemed Russian Tea Cakes always got consumed first. Our customers raved about these delightfully tasty bites.
Russian Tea Cakes
Makes about 8 dozen small cookies or 4 dozen crescents
- 2 cups butter, room temperature
- 2/3 cups sugar
- 4 Tablespoons water
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 4 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups chopped pecans
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Preheat oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with parchment and set aside.
- Beat butter for about 5 to 8 minutes or till butter is almost white and very light and fluffy.
- Add sugar and continue beating for an additional 3 minutes.
- Add vanilla and almond extract, beating to incorporate.
- Slowly add flour while mixer is on low.
- When all flour is incorporated, add chopped pecans and mix until fully incorporated.
- Form dough into balls about 3/4 inch size for tea. We use a small scoop to form the cookies. The dough can also be made into crescents using enough dough to make a ball the size of a walnut then forming it into a crescent shape.
- Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
- Bake at 350F for 18 minutes or just till slightly browned.
- Remove from oven and immediately sift a light layer of confectioners’ sugar over top of cookies. This makes the sugar stick better for the second layer.
- Once cooled, roll cookies in confectioners’ sugar.
- Store in airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
We liked to serve these cookies in a tiny paper cup to help keep the sugar off clothing.
NOTE: If you’d like to use only a portion of the dough to begin, you have a couple options: the dough can be wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen up to 3 months or bake the entire batch and then freeze the cookies before dredging in confectioner’s sugar in an airtight container for up to 3 months. When thawed, roll in confectioner’s sugar and enjoy.