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Chef John's Russian Tea Cakes

Rated as 4.77 out of 5 Stars

"As the old joke goes, these Russian tea cakes might not be Russian, but at least they're not cakes. No one knows exactly how these came to be known as Russian tea cakes but, nevertheless, they are quite delicious."
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30 m servings 286
Original recipe yields 14 servings (28 to 32 cookies)


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  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Arrange rack in center position of oven.
  2. Place butter, 1/3 cup packed powdered sugar, walnuts, salt, and vanilla in a bowl. Top with the flour. Mix with your clean hands until the dough starts to clump up. Keep mixing by hand until all the flour and clumps of butter are evenly mixed into the dough and it can be easily formed into balls.
  3. Scoop out dough and roll by hand into uniformly round balls, just slightly larger than 1 inch. Place on a rimmed baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat about 2 inches apart.
  4. Bake in preheated oven until lightly golden, 15 to 25 minutes depending on the size of the cookies.
  5. Let cool exactly 5 minutes then roll in a shallow bowl full of confectioners' sugar. Let cookies cool completely and toss them again in the confectioners' sugar.


  • Cook's Notes:
  • The only tricky thing here is the baking time, since there are so many variables: the size of the dough balls, whether you use a silicone mat or parchment, how light or dark the sheet pan is, etc. These factors can all affect the final time significantly.
  • I think this cookie tends to get under-cooked, and some recipes call for as little as 12 minutes at 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). I like these fairly golden, so I get that nice brown-butter flavor, and that took me about 20 minutes or so, which is why I gave such a wide range. Start checking at 15 minutes, and proceed from there.
  • Tip
  • Parchment can be used for easier cleanup/removal from the pan.

Nutrition Facts

Per Serving: 286 calories; 18.8 27.2 3.4 35 23 Full nutrition

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Read all reviews 29
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Instead of waiting for Christmas season to come, I took upon myself to bake these goodies in Spring time and shared them with friends. This one is a good recipe and a holiday gift idea. Thanks, ...

i have been making these for years you can also freeze them they last forever

These are easy to make and taste great! I love the powdered sugar coating for the holidays. Just make sure you get all the butter completely mixed in:; i had one lonely piece that spread from...

I have been making these for over 30 years. The name is the only difference--Mexican Wedding Cakes. My whole family love these little 'snow balls'.

Uncertain what the extra 2 tablespoons of flour are for. If it was to be included with the 2 cups of flour, maybe it would be less confusing if it stated 2 cups plus 2 tbls of flour. It's listed...

I have been making these for the last 40 years, and my mom made them before that. These are the best cookies. Don't change a thing.

These were a huge hit!!! I gifted each of my children a dozen. I am not sure if they even made it home with the kids. These will be added to the annual Christmas Cookie list!!!

This recipe has been in my family for generations - we call them "Sand Dabs" and use pecan bits. They just melt in your mouth!

They are very easy and delicious.