Russian tea cakes, also known as Mexican wedding cookies, Italian wedding cookies, or snowball cookies, have a long history with roots in various cultures. Despite the name “Russian tea cakes,” no clear evidence links them directly to Russian cuisine exists. Regardless of their origin, these cookies have become popular worldwide, especially during festive occasions and celebrations. The name “Russian tea cakes” likely came into use in the United States, possibly due to the association of nut-filled sweets with Russian cuisine, even though the exact recipe may not have Russian origins.
The Russian tea cake was one of the cookies my mom made every year. She called them snowballs, and I can recall helping her roll the cookies with my sisters when I was a little kid.
Ultimately, the beauty of these cookies lies in their simplicity and versatility, making them a beloved treat across various celebrations that are found on cookie plates and cookie exchanges.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 6 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 1 cup finely chopped toasted pecans (see recipe note for toasting instructions)
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar, for rolling
- Preheat oven to 350
- In your mixer, cream butter, and vanilla in a medium bowl until smooth for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Whisk flour and six tablespoons of powdered sugar together in another separate bowl.
- Add the dry mixture to the creamed butter mixture and mix until just blended.
- Add pecans and mix them by hand with a wooden spoon until incorporated; the mixture may be crumbly.
- Use a one-inch cookie scoop and roll them between your hands into 1-inch balls.
- Place balls 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper
- Bake in the preheated oven until the edges are just turning golden, about 12 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and lift the parchment with the cookies onto the counter to cool for 15-20 minutes.
- Place the remaining 1/2 cup powdered sugar in a small bowl and roll cooled cookies in the powdered sugar until coated
To toast pecan pieces
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Spread the pecans onto a baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes, stirring after 4 minutes, until fragrant and darker brown in color.