These traditional Christmas cookies can be found under many names: Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, sand tarts, or butterballs.
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract*
- 2/3 cup nuts (your choice: pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 tsp salt
- additional confectioners sugar for dusting
Directions after the jump.
Toast the nuts on a baking sheet at 350F for approximately 8 minutes. They should be fragrant when removed from the oven. Cool them.
Measure the flour and salt in a bowl, whisk together and set aside.
Use a food processor to process the nuts and two tablespoons of the measured flour until finely ground. Do not allow the powder to become a paste.
Cream the butter and 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until light and fluffy. This may take about two minutes. Beat in the vanilla and then the flour and salt. Mix only until just combined. Stir in the ground nuts. Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
Preheat the oven to 350F.
Roll the dough into 1″ balls and place on an ungreased baking sheet, about two inches apart. Bake for 12 – 15 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool for five minutes. Sprinkle a second baking sheet with powdered (confectioners) sugar, set the tea cakes on the sugar and then sprinkle with sifted confectioners sugar. Or you can be like me, and just sprinkle with powdered sugar. They are your cookies; you make the call. If you like them particularly sweet just roll them in the sugar once while warm and a second time after cooling.