Russian Tea Cakes, or Mexican Wedding Cookies, have long been a favorite of mine--especially during the holiday season. My mother used to make these each year, but she would shape them into crescents. She called them moon cookies, and they were always my favorite.
When I reached adulthood, I stumbled across a recipe for Russian Teacakes, and to my delight, I found that it was basically the same recipe my mother would prepare. Now, I too make them each year and share them with my children. This recipe happens to be 100% vegan, but it is no less delicious than its traditional counterpart. You can also use almond meal in place of the ground almonds, but I find that grinding the almonds makes for an extra special touch. Feel free to shape these into any shape you'd like, although I find it easiest to just go with a simple round cookies.
Gluten Free Option: substitute 2 1/2 cups "Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free all purpose baking flour" and 1/4 tsp xanthan gum, for "all-purpose flour" in recipe ingredients below. Be sure to mix these ingredients together before adding. Also, be sure your vanilla extract is gluten free. Prepare and bake according to the recipe directions below.
- 1 cup confectioner's sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 cup non-dairy margarine (such as Earth Balance, cold. You can sub in cold coconut oil by adding the oil and 1/2 teaspoon salt)
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup almonds (finely chopped, roasted or raw)
- 1 additional cup confectioner's sugar (for rolling)
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the confectioner's sugar, vanilla extract, and margarine or coconut oil until creamy. Add the chopped almonds to the sugar and margarine mixture, then gradually mix in the flour. Your dough will be crumbly, but easily formed into a ball when worked slightly with hands.
Form into balls, about walnut sized, or 1 and 1/2 inches in diameter, and place onto an un-greased cookie sheet.
You then can go on to shape them into moons or another shape with your hands, or leave them as spheres. Do not flatten these as you would peanut butter cookies. To retain the crescent shape keep them kind of on the slender side, because they tend to spread a little bit.
Bake the cookies an on un-greased cookie sheet on the middle rack of your preheated oven for about 12 minutes, or until ever so lightly golden brown on edges. Remove from oven and let cool on cookie sheet about 15 minutes. Roll generously in confectioner's sugar until very well coated.
Let cool an additional 20 minutes on wire rack before enjoying.