There are some recipes that I don’t mess with much.
Aside from adding just a tad extra vanilla…this is one of them.
It’s perfectly simple, and it’s a staple around here as far as Christmas cookies are concerned. I just have to make them. Even if we have like 7 other kinds made already, I have to make them. They remind me of my childhood, and the days and days and DAYS spent baking Christmas cookies with my family as a kid. The smell of them baking brings me back, and that first bite right after they are rolled in powdered sugar and are still slightly warm evokes that deep ‘ahhhhhh’ feeling in me. I love them.
They package up really nicely in cellophane bags for hostess gifts, and look like beautiful little pillows just asking to be eaten. They only require a handful of the ingredients that any occasional baker generally has on hand. The only oddball is the walnuts, which may not be that odd for some? And the best part about them, for me anyway, is watching my kids finish the final step of the cookie. It’s messy, in fact it can be painfully messy depending on who’s helping and the kind of mood you’re in as far as letting it go…BUT if you can let it go and embrace the flying sugar everywhere, it’s pretty much one of the most fun cookies to do with kids.
Sophia had been home from school under the weather for the past 2 days, and by the middle of day 2, we needed to do something ‘focused’ to say the least. All I had to say was ‘Cookies!’ and off we were. By the time the cookies were in the oven, Sophia and Kolton were back to their wrestling, which left Ethan and I to the rolling. Oh was he more than happy to help with this. He did a great job, and definitely got sugar everywhere. But it really didn’t matter to me. Because when I decided that we should make these cookies together, I had already embraced the mess ahead. And hey, it definitely got my mind off the mess of clothes upstairs to put away. Which was awesome…
Not too much to work with…simple and to the point.
Get your butter in and softened…
Just a little bit of confectioners sugar added, then mix it up well.
It’s gonna look a bit sticky and that’s GOOD!
Use a mini food pro to grind up the walnuts, just a handful of pulses does the trick.
The perfect size!! They won’t all be exactly the same, and that makes for more texture in the cookie.
Add in the walnuts, flour, and salt and give it a good mix. The dough will be crumbly, but still very moist. It should be able to be easily rolled into balls without an issue.
Form the dough into balls, and set about 1 1/2 inches apart on a lined baking sheet. The cookies do not spread as they bake, so you don’t have to worry about them getting too close.
Ready for the oven!
Let the cookies cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, then when they are just slightly warm, roll them in confectioners sugar again and coat well. I line a baking sheet under the wire rack so that the sugar doesn’t get all over the place and make for more clean up at the end.
Ethan’s little hands were perfect for this job. I think he made it through about 7 cookies before he realized that it was sugar he was working with, then he went to town on his fingers and I finished the rolling…it happens.
Leave them be to cool completely, then store in a tightly sealed container. But do eat some right away like we did…
Russian Tea Cookies (adapted from Betty Crocker)
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners sugar (powdered sugar)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups finely ground walnuts
1/4 tsp kosher salt
more confectioners sugar for rolling
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt and set aside.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the butter until creamy. Add in the 1/2 cup confectioners sugar and beat until well combined.
4. Add in the flour mixture and walnuts and mix until just combined.
5. Shape dough into 1 1/2 inch balls and place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat.
6. Bake cookies for 9-10 minutes or until cookies are set and very lightly browned.
7. Remove cookies from the oven and allow them to cool on a wire rack. While cookies are still slightly warm, roll them in confectioners sugar to evenly coat. ENJOY!