Russian tea cakes, a holiday favourite holiday

Buttery, almond Russian tea cakes melt in your mouth (L) seen here with Italian almond paste cookies studded with pine nuts.You may be on a diet or just sick of holidays treats – so file this recipe away, as it is hands-down one of the most popular and easiest kinds of holiday cookies I make. Some call them Russian tea cakes, others describe them as Mexican wedding cookies, and still others say they are Greek Christmas cookies. I just know they are meltingly delicious. And before you know it, it will be Valentine’s Day and time to bake again – if you are inclined.
I make this in a food processor to avoid additional washing up.
Preheat oven to 350F/175C
Chop by pulsing, so that it will not grind:
¾ cup almonds or walnuts
Add 1 cup/227 grams of softened butter
1 tbsp. /28 grams good vanilla extract
¾ cup/90 grams icing sugar
Beat till fluffy.
Mix in 3¼ to 3½ cups /about 330 grams of all-purpose of flour
Add the flour until the dough is stiff but not overly dry — the amount will slightly vary according to the brand of flour you use.
Bake a test cookie to see if it holds its shape. If not, add a bit more flour.
Line two baking sheets with parchment
Roll the dough into 1-inch balls and slightly flatten. Space them about 1½ inch apart.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes. Only the edges should begin to brown. Cool.
Roll the cooled cookies in icing sugar.
Note: Parchment works better than silicone baking mats for these cookies. I flip and reuse the paper several times. I also chill the cookie sheets between batches and chill the dough before and between baking for lighter cookies.
If you want to make the cookies in advance, store them in an air-tight container; the high butter content will help them keep for weeks. But if you are not careful – they will get eaten!
The other cookies on the plate are Italian pine nut Amoretti, another holiday favourite. The recipe for these marzipan delights will be forthcoming.