The Olympics are back! Which means that I’m back to being glued to my TV, tearing up at medal ceremonies, getting caught up in competition and wishing that I had the balance to get into speed skating myself. (I don’t).
But most of all, I love the international celebration aspect. Just like last time, I wanted to make something host country-themed to bring in the Olympics! And then I googled Russian desserts. The search was a bust. The desserts that I found were either too simple, or way too complicated, or not distinctly Russian enough. I was contemplating making borscht instead.
And then I went to the staple: Russian tea cakes. But Russian tea cakes are actually a perfect dessert to make during the Olympics, because, as it turns out, they are also called Mexican wedding cakes, and Italian wedding cookies, and Austrian crescents, or as us Americans like to call them: butterballs. These cookies are the most perfect representative of the Olympics. And they’re delicious too! A gold medal for all.
Russian Tea Cakes (recipe adapted from Epicurious)
- 2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
- 1/2 cup + an additional 1 cup of powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3/4 cup finely chopped pecans, toasted (you can also use almonds or hazelnuts or walnuts)
- 1/8 tsp. cinnamon
Beat together softened butter and 1/2 cup powdered sugar until fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add vanilla and stir and stir to incorporate. Mix in flour and nuts until incorporated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Scoop out dough into 1-inch balls. Place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake until just firm to touch, and turning lightly golden brown, about 18 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together remaining 1 cup of powdered sugar with the cinnamon. Transfer to rack and cool for about 5 minutes. Roll completely in the powdered sugar mixture. Cool completely. Roll cookies in powdered sugar again and enjoy!