Russian Tea Cake Cookies

Today we welcome Rachael, all the way from Japan, to our table!  She shares her story today of being across the globe from family and how the memory of hot chocolate and Russian Tea Cake Cookies keep her memories close to home.  We are so happy to have her with us at our table as she shares a recipe, her love of food and a story from her view from her Tokoyo Terrace. ~Chris Ann & Kristin

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Russian Tea Cookies

Spending this time of year a world away from my family can be difficult. Memories flood through
my head without warning and often times leave me feeling drained and empty. I don’t think I’m
the only one who experiences this sensation. Just tonight I was walking through the streets of
our neighborhood in Tokyo with our dog, Callie. As she paused on random corners and sniffed
at the ground, introducing herself to dogs she would probably never meet face-to-face, I found
myself staring at old street signs that I couldn’t read. Later, I found myself in front of a local
graveyard which sits just next to a shinto shrine. I made my way through the nonsensical blocks
without street names and eventually stood at the door of our apartment building, suddenly
overcome with the memory of our old apartment in St. Paul, MN. Yes, memories of home hit you
like a ton of bricks when you least expect it.
Another bunch of memories that slap me in the face like a cold Minnesota winter wind on
occasion have to do with time spent in my parents’ kitchen. These memories are not made up
of times in my 20’s. No, they are made up of a much simpler time when my dad actually used
to flood the back yard to make a skating rink (yes, you can do things like that in Minnesota). In
the sub-zero temperatures, my younger sister and I needed some sort of outlet for our energy.
An ice-skating rink was the perfect solution! We would spend an hour or so outside, gliding
not-so-gracefully on the homemade ice until we couldn’t feel our faces and the snot froze in
our nostrils. Gross, I know. We would come in the back door, leaving a trail of mittens, hats,
scarves, boots and snow pants, to find that mom had made hot chocolate and cookies. I will
never forget how wonderful hot chocolate and homemade cookies tasted on afternoons like
that. Nothing else was able to warm a person, body and soul, like that combination.
Today, when I dig through my memory files and see the platter of cookies my mom had
displayed during the holidays, I picture the Russian tea cake cookies. Like tiny snow balls piled
on a glass platter, these cookies are gorgeous to look at and make for a delicate alternative
to the typical gingerbread cookie. You just can’t eat one of these tasty, crumbly things without
feeling the warm embrace of the holiday season. And now that I’m all grown up, I can drink
things like this hot chocolate with peppermint schnapps with my cookies.
So, with the memory of ice-skating and hot chocolate in mind, I leave you with the recipe for
one of my favorite holiday cookies. My mom always substituted the vanilla extract with almond
extract and used sliced almonds in the dough. So delicious! I hope you enjoy the holiday
season, no matter where you are or what holiday you celebrate.

Sending love and joy from Tokyo Terrace in Japan.
-Rachael
Russian Tea Cake Cookies

Russian Tea Cake Cookies ~Adapted from Betty Crocker

1 cup butter or margarine, softened
½ cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
¾ cups sliced almonds
¼ teaspoon salt
1-2 cups powdered sugar for rolling
1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
2. Mix butter, 1/2 cup powdered sugar and the almond extract in a large bowl. Stir in flour,
amonds and salt until the dough comes together.
3. Gently roll dough into 1-inch balls. Place them on an ungreased cookie sheet with about
an inch of space.
4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. The cookies should not be brown on the top, so keep an eye on
them to make sure they don’t overcook. Cool the cookies for about 5 minutes on a wire
rack.
5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack. Roll in powdered sugar again.

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Thank you Rachael, from Tokoyo Terrace, for sharing your recipe at our table!

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  1. Besides my sugar cookies, this is what my dad always requested around the holidays. Also, funny thing, my husband just mentioned this morning that he would like some Russian Tea Cakes for Christmas. Have a wonderful holiday!

  2. This cookie was never absent from our Christmas platters growing up. Thanks for sharing your lovely memories!

  3. These are my favorite Christmas Cookies! Love reading your memories and it’s great to see that someone else call them by their proper name, not, snowballs or something silly. 😉

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