Is it December yet?
Thanksgiving is over, and for the last 5 days of November, all I have thought about is Christmas. December is here at last, and it’s time to unabashedly release all that penned up yuletide energy. Parties are being planned, recipes are flying about, pumpkins are switching out with holly, and any lingering scents of spice are preparing to mingle with our next aromatic houseguest, the Christmas tree.
I love this window of time when we anticipate and prepare, while we have a moment to appreciate the singular pleasures of the season – a walk in the woods, a cup of gløgg, crafting a wreath. I remain mindful of this enjoyment, because I know that all too soon holiday pandemonium will break loose. Steady preparations will accelerate into a flurry of activity, a whirlwind of guests and a smorgasbord of food. Now, I bask in the expanse of time. And I bake cookies.
Russian Teacake Cookies (also known as Sandies and Mexican Wedding Cookies) are a favorite holiday cookie in our home. If we are baking them, it means that Christmas is just around the corner. They are uncomplicated and appealing to kids of all ages, including us. The batter is egg free, encouraging lots of tasting, and the final touch requires a good roll in powder sugar, resulting in a snowy round cookie that resembles a snowman’s mid-section. And, of course, they are finger-licking good. We bake a batch of these each week leading up to the holiday, in part because they are so easy to make, but mostly because they never last long in our home.
Russian Teacake Cookies a.k.a. Sandies
adapted from Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book
Makes about 36
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup finely chopped toasted almonds
Additional confectioner’s sugar for rolling
Mix butter and sugar in bowl of electric mixer until lightened in color and fluffy, 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla. Stir flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Add flour to butter and mix to combine. Stir in nuts. Chill dough at least 1 hour.
Preheat oven to 400 F. (200 C.) Roll dough in 1 inch balls. Place on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until firm, but not brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool slightly. Roll in additional confectioner’s sugar. Place on tray and cool completely. Roll in sugar again.