When I was a little girl in New York we lived in a very diverse neighborhood and it is an experience that influenced me in many ways. From the rich and awesome culinary experiences, notably from the Polish, Russian, Ukrainian and Italian folks surrounding us to the warm family values and love they extended to both my little brother and myself as we grew up.
One of the Christmas cookies I am sharing today is aptly named Russian Tea Cakes. First experienced as a child in New York and loved as a Christmas tradition at our home I pass it now to you with all my wishes that you will make Christmas cookie memories of your own.
Russian Tea Cakes Pre heat oven to 350 degrees
1 cup salted butter
1 tsp. vanilla
7 T. of confectioners’ sugar
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup walnuts, finely chopped
In a medium bowl cream butter, vanilla and powdered sugar until well blended and fluffy.
Add the flour in parts just until blended. Mix in the chopped walnuts.
Roll your dough into 1″ balls. It is important for cooking times that they are all reasonably uniform in size so that smaller ones are not over baked to accommodate adequate baking for others.
Place each ball 2″ apart on the cookie sheet. Do not grease.
Bake approx. 10-12 minutes in pre-heated oven. Rotate the sheet 1/2 way through the baking. These cookies will not brown on top but will get golden brown on the bottom where cookie meets sheet. When cookies are still warm but can be easily handled roll them in powdered sugar. Place them on rack until completely cooled. Roll again in powdered sugar to finish them off.
*These can be made ahead of time are are just as good after freezing.
When my daughter was about 9 years old she loved fairies. She delighted in hearing about or reading stories containing anything pertinent to “fairy” finding the whole idea of the tiny, winged creatures enchanting. Hence, the Fairy Cakes recipe and how we began the Christmas tradition of Fairy Cakes. Fairy Cakes arrived with regularity when the rigors of childhood seems poised to overwhelm her. A spat with with her best friend, a challenging class assignment, a diving event the seemed a bit too daunting and later when a boy she really liked in school was seemingly devoting more attention to another girl than to her.
Now, regarding these cookies….they may not really be made by fairies…..but then again, you never know.
One thing for sure…They are yummy and a little Fairy dust can always make things a bit better.
Fairy Cakes Pre heat oven 350
1 cup butter
1 cup sugar, extra fine granular
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup vegetable oil
2 tsp. almond extract
4 1/2 cup all purpose flour
Crystal cut sugar to coat top of cookie only, almonds, chocolate, almonds, silver dragees (for dressing up) or anything to your liking can be on top.
In a large mixing bowl beat butter on medium for about 2 minutes. Add granulated sugar, powdered sugar, baking soda and salt. Beat until thoroughly combined scraping down the bowl a few times.
Beat in oil, eggs and extract until combined. Mix in the flour one cup at a time until incorporated with the mixture only. Do not over beat.
Bake 12 minutes (rotating baking pan 1/2 way through) until bottom of cookie is slightly brown.
These are delicate cookies and when they are still very hot they are very delicate. Let them cool on the sheet before transfer to rack.
*Freezes perfectly-A real benefit because one never really knows when a bit of fairy magic may be called for!
Patti and Gary Wiles, Innkeepers