Paper and Ink Imaginings

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Russian Tea Cakes



It is time for holiday baking to commence!

Russian Tea Cakes are something my mother baked for Christmas when I was a child. Her cookbook named them “Nut Butter Balls” (this was published during the Cold War…I am sure anything named “Russian” got a new name!). They are also called Mexican Wedding Cakes.

I usually only make them for Christmas. It keeps them special.

Russian Tea Cakes

  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 cups finely chopped walnuts
  • Confectioner’s sugar (for rolling after baking)

Cream butter/margarine with sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in flour, walnuts, and vanilla extract. Wrap dough in plastic wrap (I shape into a rectangle, maybe an inch in height), and chill for at least 2 hours. (I mix up the dough after dinner, and don’t roll the dough balls until the next day.)

Roll dough into balls that are a little less than 1 inch in diameter (if you chilled the dough in a rectangle, you can now slice the rectangle into small cubes to be rolled – easy peasy).

Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 – 15 minutes (bottoms should be golden, tops might be just starting to crack).

Let cool on pan 5 minutes, then start rolling them individually in Confectioner’s sugar and placing them on wax paper to cool.

Let cool on wax paper several hours.

Roll them in Confectioner’s sugar again, as you are placing them into the storage container. (And I re-roll them in Confectioner’s sugar as I put them out on Christmas day – just so they look pretty!)

Note: You can substitute most any kind of nut. I have made them with pecans, I am sure I have had the same recipe shaped like crescents made with almonds.

Here is what a batch of dough looks like on a sandwich plate:


Here’s a dough ball I saved for one of the offspring:


This dough has no egg in it, it was always considered safe to eat.

AND…here is the new warning label (new this year – after the e-coli outbreak caused by one specific flour processing plant in July 2106) that tells me that I should not eat raw flour products:


Sorry, no lectures please…I am #TEAMCOOKIEDOUGH all the way. The dough is sometimes even better than the cookies!



19 thoughts on “Russian Tea Cakes

  1. These are one of my favorites this time of year. I did a little bit of baking yesterday but in my hay day I used to bake for 2 days straight making 15 or so different types and made beautiful trays for all our friends and neighbors.

    • Kathy, I am baking this week, 8 different kinds, plus Chex mix and cinnamon/sugar pecans. I’m a little OCD…one year when I was still single, I made 144 dozen, plus mini pecan pies & brownies. Now, I am just doing assortments for family. Thanks for stopping by – have a great day!

  2. I know, the raw dough is better than the cooked one. Thanks for the recipe. I will have to try it.

  3. these were my mom’s favorite cookies!! yum

  4. ooooOOOOOoooooo …. I think I might give these a try. I’ve not heard of them before but something inside me is urging me to get into the kitchen and make them.

    Thank you Kathy for the share. A fabulous Christmas gift from you to … US! Thank you. 🙂
    Sending oodles of squidges and Christmas wishes. ~ Cobs. x

  5. Blogging is giving me so many new recipes to try! I like the sound of these a LOT. And for goodness sake, we all ate cookie dough, and raw cake and pastry mix and survived…. I am with you on that!

  6. Oh, as I’m originally from Russia, I need to try baking these on my own! We call them ‘pryaniki’ and they were always sold everywhere in grocery stores (and still are), so that I’ve never thought of baking them. But it’s hard to find them here in California. Time for baking!

    • Regina, I have no idea if the recipe is authentic – you will have to let me know! They are very easy to make!

      • Yes, there so many different recipes. I think recipes, that are used in industrial baking now are not authentic. Only smaller bakeries are using traditional recipes, but each of them has it’s own special recipe, such as ‘Tulskiy pryanik’, which is made in Tula. It’s Russian city famous for this type of cookies.
        Originally they were made with honey and spices, such as pepper, dill, lemon zest, mint, ginger, cinnamon and covered with hard sugar glaze.
        I love simple recipes and it should work for me. Do you use a confectioner’s sugar, that is already mixed with corn starch or just sugar?

      • I use Domino Confectioner’s sugar – sold everywhere in the US (grocery stores, Target, WalMart, etc). Package says ingredients are “sugar, cornstarch”. Oddly enough, I never thought about what they put in it to keep it from clumping until you asked this question!!

      • Thank you! I have the same sugar. I’ve never seen sugar mixed with cornstarch until we moved to U.S. So I’m reading everything they print on packaging and learn something new every time!