Usually called Russian Tea Cakes, these crumbly cookie balls are a delightful little bite to enjoy with tea. My favorite tea is masala chai, so I couldn’t resist replacing the customary vanilla extract with chai spice in these late afternoon treats. Their small size and resemblance to snowballs also make them ideal to serve as a festive appetizer at winter parties. — H. Weal
1/2 stick (2 ounces) butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, divided
1/4 teaspoon chai spice
1/2 cup (64 grams) flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) walnuts, finely chopped
small (1 1/2-quart) bowl
measuring cups and spoons
quarter (9” x 13”) sheet pan, lined with baking mat
1. Set oven to 375 degrees. In bowl, beat together butter, 2 tablespoons sugar, and chai spice until light and fluffy.
2. Add flour and nuts. Beat until just blended. [Dough will be crumbly.]
3. Press dough into large ball, then divide in half. Divide each half into thirds. Split each third in half and roll into 2 balls of dough – for a total of 12 balls. Arrange balls evenly on lined pan.
4. Bake until bottom edges are lightly browned – about 11 minutes.
5. Let stand until cool enough to handle – about 5 minutes – then roll in remaining sugar. Reserve leftover sugar.
6. Transfer coated balls to rack to cool completely – about 20 minutes.
7. Re-roll balls in leftover sugar.
NOTES & TIPS
• Sugar Coating Technique: Place confectioners’ sugar in a deep bowl and push all to one side. Place one cookie ball on empty side of bowl. Scoop sugar over top of ball with measuring spoon. Pat sugar into top and sides, turn ball over and repeat. Repeat with remaining balls.
• If plating for appetizers, coat twice in sugar as described in recipe, then stack balls in a pyramid arrangement and sprinkle with any leftover sugar for a “snowier” look (shown above).
1 dozen / 6 servings