Although I am a Russian - born and raised - I also have a cool advantage of running a blog in Russian for the past two years, which means I can always rely on the feedback from my 2,700+ Russian speaking subscribers when I post Russian recipes. Take these cookies, for example. I have seen the "Russian tea cookies" in various publications in the States. The same cookies have also been detected bearing the name Mexican wedding cookies, kurabie, and, in my husband's Texas family, simply as pecan sandies. So when I wrote about them, most commenters were puzzled as to what exactly would make them so particularly Russian.
But no matter: these cookies are great, tender, sweet and sufficiently nutty. The best part is that just about any nuts (walnuts, pecans, almonds or hazelnuts) will do so you can make them as Southern pecan sandies, European almond or hazelnut cookies or Russian walnut "tea cookies".
Russian Tea Cookies
Makes 32 cookies
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
3/4 cups finely chopped nuts
1/2 teaspoon salt
grated zest of 1/2 lemon or orange (optional)
powdered sugar for rolling
Preheat oven to 350F. Line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper.
Whip butter and powdered sugar until fluffy. Add remaining ingredients, mix until combined. Shape dough into 32 balls (using a large ice cream scoop and then cutting the dough in quarters works great). Bake about 15 minutes, until set but not brown. Cool on cookie sheet slightly. When safe to touch, roll cookies in powdered sugar and cool completely on wire rack. Roll in more powdered sugar.