We created the best Russian Tea Cakes recipe made with browned butter, toasted pecans and maple syrup, and then double rolled in powdered sugar.
Table of contents
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.
We updated the 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.
FLAVOR – 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.
Tips for making the best Russian Tea Cakes RECIPE
- MEASURE INGREDIENTS BY WEIGHT USING A SCALE – this is very important. Cookies are small, so a small error can make a big difference. Additionally, measuring by weight is so much easier and more accurate.
- USE THE BRANDS LISTED IN THE RECIPE – cookies contain only a few ingredients, so each ingredient matters enormously. Flour varies in protein and moisture content, butter varies in water content and sugar varies in size and texture and in the amount of refinement. All of these things effect the way the cookie will bake. The recipes were created and tested using the brands listed and changing the brands can lead to errors. For details about the importance of using a specific brand, check out the information on page about better ingredients.
- USE AN OVEN THERMOMETER – The temperature of the oven can vary greatly from what the oven is set to.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
While traveling we discovered that lots of countries have a version of these cookies. Some places they are snowballs, in Mexico they are Mexican wedding cookies, in our house they are Finnish cookies. We researched the science and techniques behind the recipe and used tips from exceptional chefs. Then we used the best ingredients we could find to create this recipe. For more ideas, see our other posts about recipes inspired by travel.