Photo: Erin Kunkel; Styling: Kelly Allen
Prep and Bake Time
2 Hours 30 Mins
Chill Time
4 Hours
Yield
Makes about 40 cookies (serving size: 1 cookie)

Russian tea cakes, Mexican wedding cakes, Viennese almond crescents--many countries have their own version of these melt-in-your-mouth butter-and-nut cookies. This one was created by Yigit Pura of Tout Sweet patisserie, in San Francisco and Palo Alto. We love it for its extreme crispness and toasty brown-butter flavor, and because it's not too sweet; most of the sugar is on the outside.

How to Make It

Step 1

Preheat oven to 325°. Toast hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet until light golden brown and skins start to split, 8 to 10 minutes. Rub warm nuts in a kitchen towel to remove most of skins (it's okay if some stick). Let cool and chop coarsely.

Step 2

Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a handheld mixer with beaters; cookies will be slightly crumblier), beat butter, granulated sugar, and salt on medium speed until evenly mixed and fluffy, 4 to 5 minutes.

Step 3

In a small bowl, whisk together vanilla-bean paste and cognac. Scrape into butter mixture and mix to incorporate.

Step 4

On low speed, gradually mix in flour, scraping bowl as needed. Add hazelnuts and mix 30 seconds more.

Step 5

Immediately scoop cookies into 1 1/2-tbsp. (25 g) portions and roll into balls. Chill, covered, at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Step 6

Preheat oven to 325° with racks in upper and lower thirds. Stack a baking sheet on a second sheet (to help cookies get evenly golden brown). Repeat with 2 more baking sheets. Line top sheet in each stack with parchment paper and set chilled cookie portions on parchment about 1 in. apart.

Step 7

Bake cookies 20 minutes. Switch positions of pans and rotate each 180°; then bake until medium golden brown, almost like biscotti, 25 to 30 minutes more. Slide parchment with cookies onto cooling racks and let cool completely.

Step 8

Put powdered sugar in a large, wide bowl, then roll cookies in powdered sugar. Repeat, lightly pressing sugar onto cookies to form a thick, fluffy coat.

Step 9

*Pura recommends weighing ingredients on a kitchen scale, since it's more precise. Find vanilla-bean paste at surlatable.com.

Step 10

Make ahead: Through step 5, up to 2 days, chilled airtight, or 2 months, frozen (thaw overnight in fridge before proceeding). Baked cookies, 2 to 3 days, airtight at room temperature, or up to 2 months, frozen.

Tout Sweet, Menlo Park and San Francisco, CA

Ratings & Reviews

Ginnygail21
December 03, 2015
I would use 1 teaspoon.  That's an average for a recipe like this.

velvmex
December 04, 2015
I found the vanilla paste at William Sonoma and on Amazon reasonably priced. We use it on oatmeal because it is a little sweet and it is delicious!!!

Suzanne
December 05, 2015
1 typical vanilla bean will equal 3 teaspoons extract (3 tsp = 1 tbsp) so you can substitute extract for paste.

lapcarlson
December 13, 2015

MOST DELICIOUS RUSSIAN TEA CAKES -- EVER!!!

Kimberly
December 13, 2015
Unlike the more crumbly RTC's that I grew up eating, these are crispy.  The hazelnuts are a nice (and so yummy) twist on the usual pecan variety, too.  I chopped mine extremely fine, and even my not-so-nutty-about-nuts family members LOVED them.  I did not follow the directions about stacking the baking sheets and they still came out really great.  Not too sweet (most of the sugar in the recipe is the powdered variety on the outside of the cookie), buttery, loaded with flecks of vanilla bean and with that oh so lovely toasted and nutty hazelnut pop -- you really MUST try these!!PS:  The first reviewer only gave these one star because she didn't like the fact that the recipe calls for vanilla bean paste, believing it to be hard to find and pricey.  I found it reasonably priced on Amazon.  It really took this recipe up a notch; I wouldn't recommend trying to substitute vanilla extract.

Need substitute for vanilla paste!

jewelofiowa
December 02, 2015
There is no way I can get the paste stuff.  Need to know how much vanilla extract to use.  I don't have or use fancy stuff for just one recipe.  Too wasteful on a fixed income.  Any one got any idea on the extract equivalent?