I absolutely adore Russian tea cakes. They’re a traditional Christmas cookie favorite, packed with ground nuts and sweetened with powdered sugar. A few years ago I realized just how similar the dough is to traditional spritz dough. I experimented with blending the two, to retain the mouth watering flavor and unique texture of the tea cakes while maintaining the pressability needed to make great looking and easy-to-press shapes. I first used this recipe in my wedding cookies post in 2016. This year I wanted to showcase this incredibly tasty recipe for Christmas, where it really belongs!

Traditionally these are rolled in powdered (confectioner’s) sugar, but for these I dipped the bottom sides in powdered sugar. This technique lent just enough sugary pop to make the taste truly authentic.

I sprinkled a touch of powdered sugar to look like snow on the trees, wreaths, garland, and holly, and added stars and simple decors. One dot of icing as glue to hold them in place and voila! Sweet decorated cookies. The red, green, and gold cookies were made by coloring the dough before baking.

The white and gold cookies were given their flair by simply brushing edible pearl dust over the tops and again adding a few decors.

The red cookies have a little white icing pizzazz. All in all, very basic decorating that’s quick and doesn’t require a lot of skill! The best kind. 🙂

I used quite a few of our Christmas and Winter themed disks to show you a variety of options. The entire Christmas Set is in there: Santa Face, Angel, Christmas Tree, Candy Cane, Stocking, Gift, Reindeer, and Holly Leaves; plus the Santa Hat, Wreath, Garland, and Bow shapes from Christmas Two Set; the Bell disk from Christmas Ornaments Set; The Christmas Bells (shown pressed but not in main photo), and Snowman from the Gingerbread Set, and Snowflakes 2,3 4, and 11 from the Snowflakes Set. All sets are pictured at the bottom of this post. 🙂

(Where can you find our disks? Glad you asked!

Our website with all of our 200+ disk shapes, press, and more about our tiny family company! www.impressbakeware.com

Our products are also available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Impress+Bakeware&ref=bl_dp_s_web_0)

Let’s bake Russian Tea Cake Spritz!

(The traditional rolled cookies are also known as Mexican Wedding Cookies or Snowballs.)

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened (not melted) (I recommend Land O Lakes brand as I know it creams well. I have had trouble with some generic butters not creaming properly and making the dough hard to press)

1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon powdered sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla extract (adjust as described below if your dough is too dry)

2 cups plus 3 Tablespoons flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup finely ground pecans

extra powdered sugar for dipping

clear alcohol like imitation vanilla or lemon extract, edible pearlescent dust and decors of your choice

In order for this dough to be pressable through cookie press disks, the pecans must be ground very finely. I took a picture of mine with a quarter to give you an idea of what size pieces will work and what are too big. I’ll show you later what to do about too-big pieces if a few do wind up in your dough. I used a Magic Bullet to grind mine in small batches. Use a fork and your fingers to sift through them, picking out the larger chunks. It’s a little tedious but worth the effort to make pressing a breeze.

On the right is ground nicely. The pieces on the left are too big and will clog up your disks.

With all your ingredients gathered, preheat your oven to 385 degrees F. If you find that your cookies brown too much, especially on the dove wings, lower to 375 degrees. These cookies should come out looking slightly underdone. Unlike regular spritz which you want to begin to brown, it is not necessary with these and will actually affect the taste. So don’t over-bake!

Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and ground pecans in a medium bowl and set aside.

Using an electric mixer, cream the butter very well. I am admittedly rather repetitive about this, but it’s the thing I stress the most about making spritz cookies. Set that mixer on the highest setting and pretend you’re making frosting.

Now add the sugar and whip it well until you have a fluffy mixture. Add the vanilla and do it one more time!

Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture a little at a time. At first the dough may seem crumbly.

Just make sure everything gets incorporated evenly. Then scoop it all together and you will see that it comes together nicely to form a soft, slightly dry dough. Knead it with your hands till it forms a nice dough ball.

Always remember that you can tweak overly stiff dough by adding more vanilla a teaspoon at a time (I had to add just ¼ teaspoon to this particular batch. It was slightly dry) or tweak overly soft or sticky dough by adding flour a tablespoon at a time. Watch some of my videos to see what a correct spritz dough texture looks like.

Tint some of your dough green, red, and yellow using gel food coloring (liquid changes the consistency too much!). Leave as much as you need plain for the white shapes. I use toothpicks to add the color to my dough and knead it by hand. Remember to start with just a little color – you can always add more, but you can’t take it out! 

Load your press with dough using the back of a spoon to remove any air pockets as you go. You can also watch out for any pecan pieces that catch your eye for being too big.

Choose your first disk and start pressing. Remember that often it takes a few mis-shaped cookies before correct pressure builds in the barrel. Once you have a good shape, try to keep a consistent rhythm.

Press the dough onto clean, dry cookie sheets. They must NOT be non-stick! Cookie press cookies stick to the pan as they are squeezed onto the surface. They will not stick to a non-stick pan. Once you get a feel for pressing, try to use a consistent rhythm to achieve consistent shapes.

If you’re having trouble, try clicking into the air a few times and wiping away the dough to start over. It resets the pressure. Remember also with “once click per cookie” presses it’s completely fine to use more or less than a click. Think of the press as just a dough-pumping mechanism. Clicking is how you get the dough to come out. Feel the cookies stick to the sheet and you’ll get the hang of it. Even the most experienced pressers throw goofed up cookies back in the bowl all the time. Don’t be discouraged! Watch my videos if you want to see me troubleshoot on the fly. 

I was very pleased at how clean the shapes came out with this dough. So long as the pecans are small enough, it presses very smoothly in sharply defined shapes.

IMPORTANT TIP: If you start seeing shapes that are missing pieces, lopsided, or just mis-shapen in general, it’s likely that a pecan piece is blocking part of the disk. Unscrew your bottom ring of the press and remove your disk. Look into the dough at the bottom and you’ll probably see something like this: a few too-big chunks of pecan clogging up your shape. Check the disk too in case a pecan piece is stuck in it. Remove the big chunky pieces, reattach your disk, and just keep on pressing. And don’t feel bad. It happened to me, too.

The colored dough pressed beautifully as well. This photo shows the Bells from the Gingerbread set! They didn’t make it into the final picture. My sneaky pup Quinn made a snack of them when I left them in reach! Luckily the vet said he’d be ok. Now he has a new nickname, “Cookie Thieving Weasel”. 😀

I got one photo of the Christmas Bells on the white plate. They’re cute!

One more TIP: For the gifts, straighten the sides before baking. It just takes a second. Extruding the dough makes it spread a bit, so straighten them up with the edge of your finger or a knife.

Bake each pan of shapes for 6-8 minutes, removing before they begin to brown. All ovens are different so check them early and often. Do not over-bake these cookies. They do not need to brown but should look “set”.

Let the cookies cool on wire racks before decorating or applying the finishing powdered sugar on the bottoms.

To get the lustrous white and gold I used edible pearlescent dusts, brushing the dust on with food grade decorating brushes. Both are usually sold at local stores and not hard to find. Or look online!

The technique that works the best is dipping the brush tip into the dust and then tapping and spreading it onto the cookie surface. Then use the “wet method” to add red details. Use any clear alcohol-based liquid to make the dust into paint. I like imitation clear vanilla extract. The flavor and alcohol disappear as the cookies dry. You could also use lemon extract or vodka. See some of my other posts about painting with pearl dust if you’d like more of a tutorial! Try: Woodland Christmas, or Easy, Fun to Decorate Thanksgiving Spritz Cookies, or Halloween Shimmering Ghosts, Jack-O-Lanterns and Haunted Houses has a video!

For the green cookies sprinkle a touch of powdered sugar on top to look like snow. Then add whatever decors you like! Use a little icing as “glue”. Use a round and star tip to add icing details to the red bow, stocking, and Santa hat. Look at the pictures as a guide. If you squiggle the star tip it looks like fur on the hat and stocking. 🙂

The final step is to lightly coat the cookie bottoms in powdered sugar. This makes the taste of the cookies very authentic, as usually this type of cookie is rolled in powdered sugar.

Simply set the cookies gently into a plate of powdered sugar. Holding them gently by their edges, lift them up, turn them over, and use a finger to wipe the sugar into a thin coating, just so it doesn’t crumble off too much.

Disk set pictures below. 🙂

Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Baking everyone!

~Susie

Disk Designer/Co-Owner at Impress! Bakeware, LLC

Our website with all of our 200+ disk shapes, and more about our tiny family company! www.impressbakeware.com

Our products are also available on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Impress+Bakeware&ref=bl_dp_s_web_0

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The Christmas Disk Set:

The Christmas Two Disk Set:

The Snowflakes Disk Set:

The Gingerbread Disk Set:

The Christmas Ornaments Disk Set: