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Tea Time: Russian Tea Cakes

27 February 2011

 

One of the many delights of living in Great Britain – in addition to the fantastic ale, beautiful country gardens, and the population’s passion for the world’s greatest sport (football!) – is their fondness for tea. Growing up in the Seattle area – arguably the coffee capital of the United States – I was in almost complete ignorance of how much joy can be derived from a handful of tea leaves, a splash of cream and a spoonful of sugar. My morning pot of tea has become a daily ritual that I absolutely love.

As busy as life can be these days, sometimes I haven’t got the time to actually sit still and savor my tea as I should. In an effort to slow myself down and devote a bit more time to the simple things in life, I’ve decided to devote one posting a month to ‘Tea Time’ and the litany of delicious treats that may sit alongside a cup on one’s saucer.

The recipe below is from my mother, ostensibly handed down to her from my grandmother. They are sometimes referred to as Russian Tea Cookies and at other times as Russian Tea Cakes, but by any name they are absolutely fantastic and a perfect accompaniment to a cup of your favorite tea. They were particularly well suited to Twinings Prince of Wales tea on this morning, but would undoubtedly be delicious with an English/Scottish/Irish breakfast blend or an Earl Grey as well.

 

RUSSIAN TEA CAKES

Makes: 2 dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature

1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar + extra for rolling

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

3/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

 

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

2.  Mix butter and 1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar, blending thoroughly. Add vanilla extract and mix well.

3.  In a separate bowl, mix flour, salt and walnuts. Work into the butter-sugar mixture using hands (this step is admittedly quite messy, but is important to attain the right consistency in the cookies – using a spoon or electric mixer will alter their texture).

4.  Roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place one inch apart on baking sheets and bake for 10 to 12 minutes.

5.  Let cool for 2 minutes, then sprinkle well with remaining confectioner’s sugar.

 

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