12 Days of Cookies – Day 4: Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes |

These buttery, melt-in-your-mouth Russian Tea Cakes cookies can be prepared many ways… but they’re always made with nuts and rolled twice in powdered sugar and are extremely delicious!

I’ve never actually eaten a Russian Tea Cake before.  I have seen them on cookie platters since my childhood, but I always stayed far, far away from them because they are full of nuts…. which I am highly allergic to.

Russian Tea Cakes |

But, this year when I put a call out to my friends, family and readers on Facebook for them to tell me their favorite Christmas cookie my childhood best friend, Jennie, told me hers was the Russian Tea Cake.   Of course, I had to ask Jennie for the recipe, but she didn’t have it!  It was her Mom’s recipe!


I love Jennie’s mom, Vicki!  That’s Jennie & Vicki about 15 years ago, in the picture above! Vicki is sweet and kind and has always been there for me… just like Jennie.  Jennie and Vicki have been in my life since I was little… for as long as I can remember really.   Growing up, Jennie and I only went to middle school together but we lived only 3-4 miles away from each other.  We saw each other on weekends and vacations and were best friends… as good of friends can be.

Growing up with Jennie as my friend was like having a second family.  Vicki and Phil, her parents and her brothers Andy and Scott… they were my family too.   As we got older and went off to college we tried to keep in touch… but the time between visits got further and further.  But, there was no denying that Jennie knew me better than anyone else.   Jennie was my best friend.

I have fond memories of spending days at a time at Jennie’s house, sleepovers and lots of giggling.  The picture below is us in high school… Jennie came over to do my hair and make up for the Homecoming Dance!

During the holiday’s, her house was filled with the smells of cookies!  Vicki baked and baked and baked so many cookies that her entire dining room table would be packed full of plates and containers full of cookies.  Russian Tea Cakes included! It’s Vicki’s cookies that I always think back to when I’m making my own Christmas cookies today.  I can almost still smell (and taste) the deliciousness that was on Vicki’s table.

PS… Don’t tell her, but I always used to sneak in there and snack on a few peanut butter blossoms!! hehe


Unfortunately, we had a falling out in our 20’s.   It was really quite devastating when our lives didn’t mesh together anymore… when our world and life views couldn’t quite find a way to be in harmony.  We both had young children and we just couldn’t see eye to eye on parenting, life choices and so many other things.   We both said very hurtful things to each other and stopped keeping in touch.

Until my Mom died.  My mom passed away in May 2009 and Jennie and Vicki came to the funeral.  I remember the day so clearly… the moment when I got my friend back.  My Mom’s death brought so much healing to my life and this moment was no exception.   As I was standing in the foyer of the church waiting for the funeral to begin and greeting guests, I see out of the corner of my eye the door open and my childhood best friend and second mother walk in.

Jennie and Vicki were here.  Immediately, I broke in to tears and I just reached out my arms to hug Jennie.  We embraced and didn’t let go… we cried and cried.   The tears were not only for the loss of my Mom, but for everything between us being put aside and the love we have for each other, for our lives, for our families coming back into the picture.  Because really… that love was all that was important in that moment.

That embrace changed everything.

I don’t know if I ever told Jennie how important is was to me that she and her mom were there that day and how much it meant for them to be there… to love me.  I needed her love more than ever… and she was there to give it to me.

Our friendship has never gotten back to where it was when we were kids… but it is different.  Almost better.   We have grown up, put aside our differences and realized that we have a special bond that not everyone has the luxury of being afforded.

We have a history… a childhood of love and laughter shared.  No one can ever take that away from us and now we see the importance of family and friends.  We work on keeping in touch and always know that we hold a special place in our hearts for one another.

It may not be spoken… but there is love between us.  Lots of love.

Russian Tea Cakes |

So, for Day 4 of 12 Days of Cookies, I bring you Russian Tea Cakes.  These are Jennie’s favorite Christmas cookie and Vicki’s recipe.

I hope these cookies can bring you and your loved ones closer together this holiday season.


Want more cookies?

Check out the main page for the 12 Days of Cookies and you’ll find the links to all the recipes! Next cookie will be posted Monday!

Russian Tea Cakes

Russian Tea Cakes

Yield: 2 dozen cookies
Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 11 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 26 minutes


  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 cup + 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 heaping cup toasted almonds, finely chopped
  • 1-2 cups powdered sugar, for rolling


  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter, powdered sugar and vanilla extract for about 2 minutes.
  2. While the butter/sugar is creaming, toast the chopped almonds in a frying pan over med-high eat until slightly golden. Remove from the pan to cool.
  3. Add the flour and salt to the butter/sugar and mix until just combined.
  4. Mix in the toasted almonds.
  5. Cover the dough and chill in the freezer for 1 hour.
  6. Preheat oven to 400 F degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Roll 1" balls in your hand then place them on the prepared baking sheet.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until firm.
  9. Immediately roll in 1-2 cups powdered sugar and set on wax paper to cool completely.
  10. Once completely cool, roll again in powdered sugar.
  11. Store in an air tight container for up to a week.


  1. Deb Richards

    Tears under my eyelids from reading this post. <3
    Oh, and I LOVE Russian Tea Cakes!


  2. Marilyn

    Love Russian Tea Cakes also….My recipe calls for pecans rather than almonds so this year I’ll do half and half…thanks for the reminder


    1. Betsy Eves

      Yes… I’ve seen several recipes that called for different nuts. Almonds is what I had on hand, but walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts…. they’d all be great too!!


  3. Heather

    My mom and grandma made a nut-less Russian tea cake ~ called snowball meltaways. I am not a lover of nuts in baked goods, not sure why. 🙂


    1. Heather

      You’ve inspired me to make them this year! Snowball melt-a-ways that is. I think the recipe may have called for more flour. I’ll need to ask my momma.


    2. Betsy Eves

      Yum! I didn’t eat any, cause I’m allergic to nuts… so I’d love to see the nutless recipe if you get it!


  4. Russell Heister

    Wow Russian tea cakes with nut substitute. That’s a challenge I’m going to take on. My first thought is to use a seed you like instead of nuts. I love poppy seeds so I’m going to see if they are a feasible alternative. Roasted seseme seeds may be tasty too.


    1. Betsy Eves

      Roasted seeds sounds delish!


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