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Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes
11 votes, 4.91 avg. rating (96% score)
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Yield: 2 dozen cookies

Back in 1943, I was a fifth-grader in Southhold grade school, Southhold, Long Island, New York. We had a wonderful teacher, Mrs. Charlotte Lindsay. Her history and geography lessons were very special because, with her lectures, she brought in samples of food from each country we studied.

The most memorable to me were the small, powdery, white, crispy, crunchy, sweet delights that Mrs. Lindsay said were eaten in Russia. She said they were eaten with tea at teatime; so they were appropriately named Russian Tea Cakes. How I envied the children of that country!

I went home from school that day raving so much about the smart mothers in Russia that my mother wrote Mrs. Lindsay asking for the recipe. Our family and friends have really enjoyed them ever since.

At Christmastime the cookies look especially nice "tucked in" like little white snowballs on a tray with the other kinds of cookies.

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Russian Tea Cakes


  • 1 cup butter or margarine
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2-1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3/4 cup walnuts or other nuts (or coconut)
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar


Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cream butter or margarine. Add the sugar; cream again. Add salt and flour to creamed mixture and work in well with your hands. Blend in vanilla and nuts. Form dough into balls about 1 inch in diameter. Place balls on a lightly greased baking sheet about 2-1/2 inches apart. Bake 14 to 17 minutes. Watch the cookies closely -- they brown quickly on the bottom and may have to be "scraped." While the cookies are warm, roll them in confectioners' sugar. Let cool and roll again.

Updated Wednesday, November 6th, 2002

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10 Responses to Russian Tea Cakes

  1. Anonymous September 18, 2003 at 5:42 pm #

    In my family we call them Snowballs! We make them at Christmas time. They are the easiest to make and are the most delicious cookies. I now make them at my Bakery at Christmas time and they are a big hit!

  2. Anonymous October 20, 2003 at 11:04 am #

    You can’t just eat one; they’re addictive.

  3. Anonymous December 18, 2003 at 2:40 pm #

    They really are the perfect addition to tea. I especially love them with the coconut added. Delicious!

  4. Anonymous February 19, 2006 at 3:14 pm #

    Every Christmas for as long as I can remember, my mother made these wonderful cookies! These are the only ones I have trouble sharing with just anyone. It’s very important you use real butter & not margarine. You’ll never be able to eat just one!

  5. Anonymous February 26, 2006 at 11:39 am #

    I lost my original print out and had to search my history to find this. So glad I did! I made a huge batch for a Mary Kay party last weekend and didn’t have a single cookie leftover. Everyone loved them — a favorite we’ll be making again and again! Thank you.

  6. Anonymous March 3, 2009 at 9:42 am #

    We call them Mexican Wedding Cookies and it is the one cookie everyone asks for over and over. Add a little cinnamon to give them a little extra taste if you want to surprise everyone the next time you make them.

  7. Anonymous November 11, 2010 at 12:36 pm #

    These are not Russian Tea Cakes at all, but are what the Italians call “Butterballs.” Russian Tea Cakes, at least here in Southern New England, are chocolate and red-and-green-colored layers of cake, usually soaked in rum, with fruit filling and nuts in between. They are then cut into bar shapes.

  8. Pamela Ackerman November 13, 2010 at 10:45 am #

    These cookies are great when wrapped around a Hershey’s kiss before baking!!!!

  9. debra williams November 15, 2010 at 2:56 pm #

    I have been making these for years. I now make them for Thanksgiving. My family can’t wait to have them for Christmas.

  10. Patricia Sabins November 16, 2010 at 8:27 pm #

    My family has always called these Snowballs, too. One Christmas, when I asked students to bring favorite holiday recipes in, I found that this same recipe is also called Mexican Wedding Cookies and even Russian Tea Cakes. Shows a wonderful synchronicity of woman baking with basic ingredients!

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