Saturday, December 22, 2012

"Healthier" Russian Tea Cakes

It's the holidays, and I'm 9 months pregnant.

Let's just say I haven't been up to my usual Christmastime antics this year, which has been somewhat frustrating. We've been so frantic trying to get things ready for the baby, and the bigger I get, the less productive I seem to become. Thankfully, my husband is done with school for the semester, and I finished things up at the office last week, so we've been able to work our way through the laundry list of things to do before January 12th rolls around.

However, the one thing has irritated me on an almost daily basis since the day after Thanksgiving. I really, really want some Christmas cookies! As in, I've been dreaming about them. Which, I suppose, for a pregnant woman, isn't too hard to believe ;)

One of my all-time favorite cookies is a Russian Tea Cake, or Mexican Wedding Cake, or Snowball cookie. It has been years since I've made these cookies, and I've been thinking about them for weeks now. Just haven't found the time or energy to actually make them. Until now. And boy, were they worth the wait!

I say these cookies are "healthier" simply because I made them gluten, dairy and grain free. There is definitely a lot of sugar in them, so they're not really healthy. But, for a more allergen-friendly recipe, they rock!

The first batch I made, I over-browned the bottoms a bit, which detracted from the taste a little. I also thought they needed more sugar and vanilla, especially since I didn't use anything that tasted like butter. So I added more sugar and vanilla to the second batch. I'm sure if I had more time to play around, I could come up with something that made up for that flavor...but I was satisfied with these. The almond flour actually worked really well in the recipe, which was just from my good ol' Betty Crocker cookbook. Give them a try!

"Healthier" Russian Tea Cakes
Gluten free, dairy free, grain free

1 c butter/dairy-free substitute (I used Spectrum shortening)
1/2-3/4 c powdered sugar
1-2 tsp vanilla
2 1/4 c blanched almond flour
3/4 c finely chopped nuts (I prefer pecans)
1/4 tsp salt
Additional powdered sugar for rolling

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Mix together butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Add almond flour, nuts and salt. Stir until well combined. Dough should hold together well (if it doesn't, I've read that adding a tsp or two of milk - or milk sub - to the dough will help it bind better).

Shape dough into 1/2-1 inch balls. Place an inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet, and bake 12-14 minutes. Cookies should be set, but not brown. They will still be really soft, and the bottoms brown fast, so keep an eye on them.

Once removed from the oven, transfer (carefully) to a wire rack to cool. After cooling for about 5 minutes, roll the cookies in the extra powdered sugar. Put back onto the rack, and cool another 5-10 minutes. Roll again in the powdered sugar. Let cool completely.

Oh! They taste even better the next day!


Liz Wolf said...

I'm very experienced with baking with almond flour and thought it was odd that you could sub the almond flour straight across for the wheat flour. I tried anyway. These did not turn out well at all. Soggy and oily and spread out on the pan, just as I imagined they might. Certainly not what your picture showed.

Jill said...

I had high hopes for this recipe, despite the comment above, but I had the exact same result. I think this recipe needs to go back to the test kitchen!