Monday, December 27, 2010

Russian Tea Cakes

Ok so first things first - MERRY CHRISTMAS!

Or Happy Holidays, Happy End of December, Happy Blizzard - I mean, seriously, whatever it is you're celebrating right now, I hope it's happy.

All I know is, the last six days have been filled with so much shopping, decorating, gift-wrapping, gift-opening, baking, visiting, eating, laughing, family beer pong(!), cat-dancing (!!), and SNOW that I don't even know what to write about first.

But this is what it looks like outside my house right now, so since I had already taken today & tomorrow off from work anyway, I don't think I'll be doing much until Wednesday.

We got about 2 feet of snow since mid-day yesterday (it's stopped now, thankfully) but the wind has caused it to drift much higher in parts.  

To give you an idea of what you're looking at, here is a comparison of our back deck in the summer and now.

this summer


You can barely see the top of the hammock post ha!  Pretty crazy, huh?

Now if it wasn't so awful out (a state of emergency was declared in New Jersey this morning) I'd probably be out somewhere, fighting my way through the crowds of after-Christmas shoppers for some deals.

But since Mr. Vittles and I have not stopped since we got back from Lake Placid last Monday, it's actually pretty nice to be home on the couch with you guys :)

So on that note, down to business.  Mr. V and I had an amazing holiday.  We are so thankful to have not only each other, but such wonderful family & friends, and the last few days have been a blast.

We got to decorating our tree a little late this year but I think it looks great.

As Mr. V reminded me, this was our 4th Christmas together and our 3rd tree.  Already, we are building a nice little collection of ornaments that are special to us, like this handmade one from my mother-in-law who does the most beautiful needlepointing:

and another of Lady and the Tramp from my mother, who also wrote us a sweet message on the box:

It says, "May you always have butterflies when you look into each others' eyes.  We wish you love.  Happy first tree."

I also love having an excuse to use my very favorite Snoopy winter plates.  Aren't they so fun?
It's the little things that make me smile.

What also makes me smile is holiday goodies.  It's a lot of work but what's Christmas without sweet treats?

I made three types of cookies and two types of fudge this year, though, so it was tough to decide what recipe to share with you today.  

This one is actually not one of my personal favorites, however it is a family favorite on my mom's side.  And when I asked my dad if he had any requests for Christmas cookies (I figure, if you're gonna break your diet it may as well be with something you love), even he asked for 'those white snowballs with nuts.'

Which I guess is especially appropriate with all the snow we just got?

Anyway, my family calls them Russian Tea Cakes, but you may know them as something else.  I'm not sure where the recipe originated, but Grammy Vittles has been making them for years and it has become a family tradition.  So my aunt just had to put the recipe into a cookbook she & my mother put together years ago for her antique & country store in Connecticut, and this is the first year I've tried making them myself.

I did have to double check my eyes though, because the recipe doesn't call for any eggs and that threw me off a bit.  But no worries- anyone I've ever known who likes nuts just loves these rich, buttery cookies.

So while I know it's a little late - hope you all are having a wonderful holiday season!  And as always, thanks for reading - without you, this would not be any fun :)

Russian Tea Cakes
  • 1 C. butter (2 sticks), softened
  • 1/2 C. powdered sugar (plus about 1 1/2 C. more for decorating)
  • 2 1/4 C. flour
  • 1/4 t. salt
  • 1 t. vanilla extract
  • 3/4 C. finely chopped nuts (I used walnuts, but you can use pecans or whatever you choose)
Cream butter and sugar until fluffy, then add remaining ingredients & beat to combine.  Chill dough about 30 minutes, covered.  Preheat oven 350 degrees, then shape dough into 1" balls.* 

Bake 14-17 minutes, or until golden.  Roll in powdered sugar while still warm, then roll again once cookies are cooled.

*Note: I used a spring-loaded cookie scoop to form the dough into balls, and that seemed to work fine - just ensure the scoop is packed hard, so the cookies don't crumble apart when you squeeze the lever.  

Family Recipe - Origin Unknown


  1. Wow thats a lot of snow. We in MD were expecting a lot but nothing but a bit of flurries. Your russian teacakes looks very yummy.

  2. These are some of my favorite cookies--we call them buttery fingers (Paula Deen is weird) or Mexican Wedding cookies. I've never heard them called Russian Tea Cakes before (and seriously, I was curious as to what Russian Tea Cakes actually are).

    Anyway, you will be happy to know that the post-Xmas deals are lackluster this year. According to the news, retailers did so well pre-Xmas that they didnt need to lure us in after. Sadness, I tell you.

  3. Lisa- I'm jealous! I'm hoping this is the last storm of the year but I doubt we'll be that lucky!

    Baking Barrister- I have heard them called wedding cookies but not buttery fingers - very interesting! I am also glad to hear I didn't miss out on any great sales, but that's unfortunate :(

  4. Your backyard looks exactly like mine - I feel bad for my hubby because he has to clean the front yard and it doesn't look any better!

    I've had these cookies, but I think where I come from they are called, "Vanilici", or cookies with vanilla. They are delicious!

  5. Coming from Russian background, I can tell you these wonderful treats aren't actually "Russian", but who cares! They are yummy, and they are easy to do! Great post! Merry Christmas! :)

  6. These are such delightful little bites! I hope you stay warm and cozy inside!! I'm off to google 'beer pong' - I must be missing out on something :)

  7. I made these this year for the first time. They were called "pecan melts" in my recipe. Crazy how many names can be assigned to one recipe but nonetheless they are fabulous little treats.

    And, Stephanie, me to google 'beer pong'. Have a happy new year.

  8. We got 8 inches in North Carolina and I thought that was bad! Your RTC look great (we call them Mexican wedding cookies!)

  9. Oh man these look delicious! Happy Holidays :)


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