The Christmas cookies of my childhood - Russian Teacakes

The Christmas cookies of my childhood – Russian Teacakes

Every Christmas when I was a child my mother, her sister, and my grandmother all made Russian Teacakes. A simple cookie with only six ingredients (butter, powdered sugar, wheat flour, chopped nuts salt, and vanilla) they were the perfect holiday cookie.

Until they weren’t

So I decided to give the cookies a makeover. Since I had to swap out half of the ingredients and only retain sugar salt and vanilla, this did not always go well. Keeping them soy-free added another level of complication, but I now think that I have a gluten, dairy, corn, potato, soy, egg, peanut, tree-nut free version of the cookie.

These cookies are easy to make, but they take a bit of planning. The dough part is pretty fast, but they require freezing to stop being sticky and then they are rolled in powdered sugar not once but twice which is also very time consuming. I happen to think they are worth the effort…once a year.

They do not spread on a cookie sheet so you can bake two dozen at a time. This recipe is for a double batch because what I do is make the dough, freeze the dough balls, put them in plastic bags and then bake them up as needed for gifts, parties etc. This recipe can easily be halved in case you don’t want to start with 120 cookies.

4 1/2 cups Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
2 cups Spectrum Naturals Butter Flavor Shortening (Earth Balance Coconut spread also works as long as you can handle coconut)
1 cup sifted powdered sugar (to keep it corn free find a brand that uses tapioca starch instead of corn starch.
2 tablespoons vanilla
1 tsp salt
1 cup of pepitas
More sifted confectioners sugar for rolling cookies

1 aluminum cookie sheet
1 silpat or parchment paper (I use the silpat)
Electric Mixer
Measuring cups and spoons
Plastic zipper bags if not baking all the cookies at once
Bowl for holding powdered sugar
Plate for holding cookies between rolls in sugar

Put pepitas in a mini food processor or a coffee grinder and pulse until chopped very fine.
Combine powdered sugar and shortening or spread in electric mixer until loose and combined
Add vanilla and mix until thoroughly incorporated
Add salt, flour, and pepitas and combine. Dough will be stiff and crumbly. You will need to finish mixing it kneading by hand (well, a good mixer may survive, but the one I have strains too much).
Roll the dough into balls one inch in diameter and set them on a cookie sheet
Put the cookie sheet into the freezer
Freeze the cookie balls solid
Store what you do not intend to cook within a day in a plastic zipper bag.

When ready to cook
Preheat oven to 400 degrees farenheit
Put frozen cookies on silpat covered cookie sheet
Bake for about 10 minutes
Remove cookies from oven and while they are still somewhat hot roll them in the powdered sugar and then put them on the plate to cool.
When cookies are completely cool roll them once again in the sugar.
Makes between 96 and 120 cookies.