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Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

We created the best Russian Tea Cakes recipe made with browned butter, toasted pecans and maple syrup, and then double rolled in powdered sugar.


THE FAMILY TRADITION OF MAKING RUSSIAN TEA CAKES

There are a number of similar cookies, such as Snowballs, Mexican wedding cookies, and in our house Finnish cookies. Tony’s mother is half Finnish and she remembers her Finnish Grandmother making them when she was a child, so she has always called them Finnish cookies. They are a family tradition, and we make them every year at celebrations. Over the years we have made a few changes to her Grandmother’s version, though. This version is made with pecans and maple syrup, ingredients that are native to America, so maybe we should probably call them American cookies at this point, but we are not going to mess with tradition that much.

The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

INGREDIENTS FOR MAKING THE BEST RUSSIAN TEA CAKES RECIPE

We updated the traditional recipe to give the cookies more flavor and to make this a sustainable recipe that a baker who is worried about climate change can feel good about.

The nuts were toasted, the butter was browned, the vanilla was doubled, maple syrup was added, and the sugar was homemade superfine sugar to give the cookies a sweetness without the pasty texture of powdered sugar. Each of these changes added a little more flavor.

Use the best ingredients. We have listed the brands for some of the ingredients because ingredients are everything. We have found that these brands give superior results. And by using brands like Horizon dairy products and organic sugar we cut our carbon footprint in half and are helping to control climate change.

FLOUR 

Gold Medal Unbleached All Purpose Flour has a lower protein amount than some all purpose flours – 10.5 percent protein. This is a good flour for baking cookies, since it makes them more tender. In addition, the company ensures that the protein content is carefully calibrated, so you get consistent results. Also, it is important to use the unbleached flour.

SUGAR

We use Wholesome organic sugar, because it is produced from sugar cane fields that are green cut and are not burned or treated with herbicides or synthetic fertilizers. Burning sugar cane fields contributes to air pollution and climate change, and is a major cause of the destruction of the rain forest. Buying sugar from fields that are green cut helps prevent this destruction. The sugar also has a better taste because of how it is produced, but mostly we use it because it is a sustainable choice. It is more expensive than buying the standard brands, but the difference is only a few cents per recipe, so it’s worth it. We also save money by buying this in bulk direct from the company and storing it in jars in the pantry.

MAPLE SUGAR

These cookies are known for being crumbly because of the amount of nuts in them and because the only water in the recipe is from the butter. By browning the butter, we have removed the small amount of water that was in the butter. By adding the maple sugar, we are adding back some water. The maple sugar is added to the flour and the flour is allowed to sit for five minutes in order to activate the gluten in the flour so the cookies are not too crumbly. This is a tip we learned from Shirley O. Corriher‘s book “Bakewise”. The maple sugar also adds some extra flavor and sweetness to the cookies.

VANILLA

Heilala produces the best tasting vanilla we have ever tried. Plus, it is ethically produced. We double the amount of vanilla usually called for to add extra flavor. Vanilla extract is usually half alcohol and half water, so the extra vanilla can add back some of the liquid that was removed when browning the butter.

Heilala vanilla
Heilala vanilla

SALT

We like the quality of Diamond Kosher salt and don’t want the iodine taste. The weight and structure of salt varies between brands so it is important to choose a salt and stick with it to be consistent.

BUTTER

HOMEMADE BROWNED BUTTER FROM HORIZON ORGANIC BUTTER – Using browned butter, or buerre noistte as it is known in France, adds a huge amount of flavor to baked goods. We use Horizon Organic butter to make browned butter. We think Horizon products taste better than any other dairy products we have tried. This is probably because the products are organic and from family farming partners. Just as important, Horizon is a certified B corporation that has committed to becoming carbon positive across their entire supply chain by 2025.

TIP – MAKE THE INGREDIENTS AHEAD OF TIME – This recipe is much easier if the sugar is ground, the butter is browned (beurre noisette), and the nuts are toasted ahead of time. We do all of this ahead and have a supply on hand in the pantry or refrigerator.


The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

THE SCIENCE OF MAKING GREAT COOKIES EVERY TIME


To make great cookies, it is important to understand a little of the science of making them. They are small, so there is less room for error, which is why measuring accurately is so necessary. And they have very few ingredients, so each ingredient has a key roll, and using the best of each ingredient will make a big difference.

METHOD FOR MAKING COOKIES

USE THE BEST INGREDIENTS – The brands we have listed will let you make great cookies every time. They not only taste better but production of each is controlled so the product is consistent. The size of the sugar crystal, the amount of protein in the flour, the shape of the salt – all these things will affect the way the cookies bake. Cookies are so small that little differences in the ingredients can lead to a big difference in the cookies.

START WITH INGREDIENTS AT ROOM TEMPERATURE – Bring all the ingredients to room temperature before starting. Gather them all on the counter and then leave them there for an hour. This way you ensure that you have everything you need, and everything is at the right temperature.

USE A SCALE AND MEASURE IN GRAMS – Use a scale to measure all the ingredients by weight. This is absolutely essential. The inaccuracies from using measuring cups can easily lead to failure when baking. Different brands of flour and sugar will be different when measured with measuring cups, and not all measuring cups are accurate either. But measuring by weight is the same every time. Measuring by weight is also much easier – just put the mixing bowl on the scale, zero the scale, add an ingredient, zero the scale again, add the next ingredient, and so on. Measuring in grams is more accurate because it is a smaller, more precise measurement than an ounce or pound. Also, grams are often easy numbers to remember, making it possible to make the cookies without looking at the written recipe and easy to compare recipes. Clean up is easier, since there will be fewer bowls and no measuring cups and to clean up. And cooking with children is easier because they quickly learn how to add ingredients until the scale reads the correct amount.

Best Dutch Oven Bread Recipe
Weigh the Ingredients

CREAM THE BUTTER AND SUGAR FOR SEVERAL MINUTES – Cream the butter and sugar for several minutes to make sure they are light and fluffy, but not so long that the butter starts melting. This will take about 5 to 8 minutes in a stand mixer. Do not let the mixture exceed 68 degrees F.

USE A SCALE AND A SCOOP TO MAKE DROP COOKIES – Use the scale to make sure the cookies are exactly the same size. Using a scoop makes forming the cookies fast and easy and will also help maintain the same shape.

chocolate chip cookies

Cookies made with a #24 scoop and then measured on a scale.

REFRIGERATE THE DOUGH OVERNIGHT – This allows the flour to absorb the liquid in the dough and hardens up the butter, making the cookies bake better. You can refrigerate the dough in the bowl covered with plastic wrap, but it is easier to measure out the dough as cookies for drop cookies or form it into a flat square for rolled cookies, and wrap in plastic before refrigerating it.

VACUUM PACK AND FREEZE EXTRA DOUGH -After refrigerating the dough overnight, freeze extra cookie dough as cookies in a vacuum packed container. Portioning out the dough and then vacuum sealing them keeps them fresher and makes it easy to take out just a few for baking.

White Chocolate Macadamia Nut Cookie dough vacuum packed for freezer

vacuum packed container

USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER – Use an oven thermometer to check the oven temperature before putting the cookies in. The temperature of ovens vary, and may not be the temperature on the dial.

Oven Thermometer

ALLOW THE COOKIES TO COOL ON A RACK – Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the pan, then transfer them to a rack to keep them from getting too dark on the bottom. The cookies will become more crisp as they cool on the rack, though we realize allowing them to cool before eating them is almost impossible.


The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe
The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

No Affiliates Statement

We call this our “no affiliates” statement because we accept no advertising, have no affiliates and accept no payment. We are not paid to mention brands – we just love buying the best, sharing that information and saving the planet at the same time. The effort put into writing and photographing the blog is solely based on our dedication to the cause.


The Best Russian Tea Cakes Recipe

THE BEST RUSSIAN TEA CAKE RECIPE

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Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Course: Dessert
Keyword: cookies
Servings: 24
Calories: 221kcal
Author: Lisa LeCoump
The best Russian Tea Cakes recipe made with browned butter, toasted pecans and maple syrup, and then double rolled in powdered sugar.

CHOOSING BRANDS:

For certain products, the choice of brand will make a big difference in the outcome of the recipe and in your carbon footprint. So, for those products, we have listed the brand. We are not paid to mention a brand and have no affiliates.

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Allow the ingredients to come to room temperature (about 65 degrees). This may take about an hour.
  • Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. This may take about half an hour.
  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Measure the flour into a bowl.
  • Sprinkle the maple syrup over the top of the flour and stir.
  • Add the salt to the flour mixture.
  • Using the food processor, finely grind half the pecans, stopping before they start to clump. Do not over process the nuts or they will become nut butter. Add the ground pecans to the flour mixture.
  • Using the food processor, coarsely chop the rest of the pecans. Add the chopped pecans to the flour mixture and stir the flour and nuts together.
  • Using a stand mixer with a paddle, soften the butter by beating it on medium for about a minute. Do not let the temperature of the butter exceed 68 degrees F.
  • Add the sugar and cream the butter and sugar on medium for about three minutes, until the mixture is light colored and fluffy.
  • Reduce the speed to low and add the vanilla, mixing just until the vanilla is incorporated.
  • Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low just until mixed, about 30 seconds. Do not overwork the dough. Scraping down the sides and mix in any remaining flour by hand.
  • Roll the dough into balls about the size of a walnut and place on the baking sheet about two inches apart.
  • Bake until they are set, but not browning, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the cookies to cool for a minute on the baking sheet.
  • Place the powdered sugar in a bowl and carefully roll each cookie, one at a time, in the powdered sugar to coat it and then place it on a rack to cool.
  • When the cookies have cooled, reroll each cookie in the powdered sugar and then give them a final dusting of powdered sugar by sifting some over the top of the cookies.

Nutrition

Calories: 221kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 20mg | Sodium: 110mg | Potassium: 54mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 241IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 11mg | Iron: 1mg

WHY THIS RECIPE IS SUSTAINABLE:

Check out the chart on the blog post to see how food choices affect climate change. This recipe uses responsible brands and items that are lower on the chart and the production creates less greenhouse gas.

https://tonyfitzgeraldphotography.com/2022/06/15/best-russian-tea-cakes-recipe/
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Nutrition Facts
THE BEST RUSSIAN TEA CAKE RECIPE
Amount per Serving
Calories
221
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
14
g
22
%
Saturated Fat
 
5
g
31
%
Trans Fat
 
0.3
g
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
6
g
Cholesterol
 
20
mg
7
%
Sodium
 
110
mg
5
%
Potassium
 
54
mg
2
%
Carbohydrates
 
22
g
7
%
Fiber
 
1
g
4
%
Sugar
 
13
g
14
%
Protein
 
2
g
4
%
Vitamin A
 
241
IU
5
%
Vitamin C
 
0.1
mg
0
%
Calcium
 
11
mg
1
%
Iron
 
1
mg
6
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


HOW THE BEST RUSSIAN TEA CAKES RECIPE FITS IN WITH OUR PLAN TO EAT BETTER:

We chose ingredients that are produced sustainably and with a low carbon footprint. Instead of walnuts or almonds, we used pecans, a native nut that was grown in Texas with a low impact on the environment. The brand of sugar and butter were chosen for taste, but also for the companies efforts to combat climate change. We are making an effort to solve the climate crisis, one cookie at a time.

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