I have so many memories of lying in bed at night at the beginning of winter hoping that in the morning would bring a blanket of fresh snow. When it happened, there was an excitement that started deep in my belly and spread in excited tingles all the way to my finger tips. I always knew there was snow before even glancing out the window that there was snow because the light changed completely. It always felt new and fresh after weeks of golden autumn sun. The first snow of the season calls for something special. Hot chocolate for breakfast, cookies baking in the oven, and Christmas music on in the background. We had a day like that a while back, and I immediately took advantage by spending the morning making Orange-Walnut Russian Tea Cakes with my favorite little kitchen assistant.
We also wore wintery sweaters. You can't have a snow day without the proper attire, am I right?
My mom used to make Russian Tea Cake cookies around Christmas time and I remember the way the powdered sugar stuck to my fingers. Something about their snowball appearance made it seem like winter was officially official. I took my mom's recipe and updated it a little with the addition of fresh, bright orange zest. The orange in combination with the walnuts combines all the wonderful things about winter in one tasty little cookie. They are easy for kids to help with and make the perfect introduction to holiday cookie baking season.
Between the snowflakes floating softly outside the window and this sweet little boy helping me make sweet treats, this snow day was the best thing ever. I'm wishing extra hard for more days like this in the coming weeks.
Orange-Walnut Russian Tea Cakes
Makes 2 dozen cookies
- 1 cup butter or margarine, room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
- ¾ cups roughly chopped walnuts
- zest of one large orange
- 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 flour, nutmeg, walnuts, zest and salt in another bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter and sugar mixture until the dough comes together. 3. Gently roll dough into 1 1/2 inch balls. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet with about an inch of space between each cookie. 4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes. Keep a close eye on the cookies so they don't turn golden on top- that means they're overcooked! Cool the cookies for about 5 minutes on a cooling rack. 5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar and cool them completely on wire rack before arranging on a plate. If the first pass through the powdered sugar didn't quite stick, you can roll them a second time once they have cooled.