Fan Favorite Friday ~ Powdered Sugar Almond Cookies

...aka Russian Tea Cakes...aka Mexican Wedding Cookies...aka Kourabiethes/Greek Almond Cookies, and the list goes on!

My original search for a "powdered sugar almond cookie" was inspired by one of the cookies that I sampled from the Martha Stewart Show.  The crumbly, powdery almond flavored morsel left me wanting more so I decided to google the words, "powdered sugar almond cookie" and came across a recipe that seemed to come close to what I was looking for.  It was Robin McGraw's Almond Cookies  - I bookmarked it and didn't look at it again until this week when it became the fan favorite!  However, upon reading through the recipe again, I wasn't so keen on trying it because it used margarine and four sticks of it at that!

So, I did a last minute search led to another - and soon I learned that there were many almond or other nut-based cookies rolled in powdered sugar - only masquerading under different names.  It seems like Mexican Wedding Cookies and Russian Tea Cakes mostly use pecans or walnuts, while Kourabiethes uses almonds... but I also found a Mexican Almond Cookie so you can imagine my confusion!  In the end, I decided to go with the highly-rated Russian Tea Cake recipe by Emeril Lagasse, which calls for pecans or walnuts but I stuck with my almonds since that's what my fans wanted.  Well, that and one reviewer of the recipe recommended using almonds and replacing one teaspoon of the vanilla extract with one teaspoon almond extract.  I just happened to pick up a bottle of almond extract at Whole Foods last week so I was excited to use it - the sweet smell always reminds me of the Chinese almond pudding my mom used to make when I was child.

The dough was quick and painless to make in my stand mixer and I had the balls rolled out in no time.  Instead of flattening the balls w/ the bottom of a glass, I just used what I had nearby - my measuring cup, and it worked just fine.  I probably made the cookies a tad on the bigger side since the recipe yields 4 dozen cookies and I ended up with only about 3-3 1/2 dozen.

Half-way through baking, I could start smelling the fragrant aroma of the almonds... this is also when I rotated the cookie sheet in the oven.  I do this pretty much with anything I bake even if the recipe does not indicate to do so - just my way of making sure everything bakes evenly.  The cookies don't really brown on top - just around the edges so I trusted that they would be done at 20 minutes.

Then comes the messy part! At first, I was hesitant to use my fingers to roll the hot cookies in the powdered sugar - I even grabbed a spatula thinking I could somehow stir it around but quickly realized it just wasn't cutting it.  In the end, I decided to employ a "throw-sprinkle-roll" method in efforts to lessen the amount of buttery goodness getting on my hands.

Here they are with their first coating of sugar - aren't they pretty? Can you believe I was able to refrain from popping one in my mouth at this point?

Well, of course - I had to wait for their second roll in the sugar... now they're complete.  What's some tea cakes without tea?  Oh my, I can't wait any longer... 

All I can say is... don't you wish you had picked this as your favorite! This cookie literally melts in your mouth - so buttery, crumbly, and the powdered sugar is just the perfect amount of sweetness.  I can see this cookie being pretty popular around the holidays... I think I may just make a huge batch of this dough, freeze it and bake it up it for Christmas!  

Source: Adapted from Russian Tea Cake recipe by Emeril Lagasse. Use almonds instead of pecans/walnuts; replace 1 teaspoon vanilla extract with 1 teaspoon almond extract.