Pistachio & Cranberry Russian Tea Cakes

December 21, 2009 | By andrea | Filed in: Baking, Christmas, Cookies & Bars, Dessert, Holidays, Recipes.


If you’ve never made Russian Tea Cakes (also known as Mexican Wedding Cakes or Snowball Cookies), you’ve probably eaten them at some point in your life. They’re extremely easy to make, very tasty and a great addition to any holiday cookie platter.  

russian-tea-cakes-on-red-plAlthough the recipe calls for 1 cup of pecans, I decided to try 1/2 cup of chopped pistachios and 1/2 cup of chopped dried cranberries (soaked in a bit of Grand Marnier or orange juice before chopping to soften them up). I really like how the cookies turned out: a tender, buttery cookie with the added flavor and color of the green pistachios and ruby red cranberries (perfect for Christmas). A little freshly grated orange zest would also be a delicious addition to the pistachios and dried cranberries. The recipe calls for flattening the cookies but I left them in round balls.

After baking, the recipe says to roll the hot cookies in powdered sugar, which is messy and melts the sugar. I find that letting the cookies cool first then rolling them in the powdered sugar works best. I try to knock off the excess powdered sugar from each cookie so that the sugar isn’t inhaled when taking that first bite. Yumm!

Russian Tea Cakes
– adapted from a recipe courtesy of Emeril Lagasse on foodnetwork.com

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

1 cup butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup sifted confectioners’ sugar, plus more for rolling cookies
2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts (I used 1/2 cup chopped pistachios & 1/2 cup dried chopped cranberries)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F.

Cream butter in a large mixing bowl. Add the vanilla then gradually add the 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, beating until light and fluffy. Sift the flour, measure, then sift again with the salt. Add gradually to the butter mixture. Add the pecans and mix well.

Shape the dough into 1-inch balls and place 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten slightly using the bottom of a glass, then bake for 20 minutes, or until edges are very lightly browned. Remove the cookies from the baking sheets and roll in powdered sugar while still hot. Cool on wire racks and roll cookies again in powdered sugar before serving.

Once they are completely cooled, cookies may be stored in airtight containers for up to 1 week.

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Homemade for the Holidays

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