|Alternative names||snowball cookies, Mexican wedding cakes, butterballs, kourabiedes, snowballs|
|Serving temperature||Hot or cold|
|Main ingredients||nuts, butter, powdered sugar|
Russian tea cake is a kind of pastry, often eaten around Christmas in the United States. It is a form of jumble, a pastry common in England during the Middle Ages. Similar varieties are known as Mexican wedding cakes (or cookies), Italian wedding cookies, Kourabiedes, or Greek wedding cookies, butterballs, and occasionally snowball cookies or “pecan Susans” for their powdery white spherical appearance when appearing around the winter holidays.
Russian tea cakes have a relatively simple recipe, generally consisting entirely of flour, water, butter, and ground nuts, the nut variety depending upon the cookie type. After baking, they are rolled in powdered sugar while still hot, then coated again once the cookie has cooled.
European-based recipes rely upon coarsely chopped hazelnuts, almonds, or walnuts. Mexican wedding cakes traditionally use coarsely chopped pecans.
A reason for the common name "Russian Tea Cake" or any connection to Russian cuisine is unknown. Some have speculated the recipes either derived from other Eastern European shortbread cookies, may have migrated to Mexico with European nuns, or may have been associated with cookies served beside Russian samovars (tea urns). By the 20th century, they were a part of wedding and Christmas and Easter traditions in the U.S., known by their popular "Russian tea cake" or "Mexican wedding cake" name.
Bizcochitos, superficially similar to pfeffernüsse, are designated the official cookie of the State of New Mexico, are similar except that they have the addition of anise, although, properly made, the anise flavor is very mild. In Spanish, they are known as polvorones or "Polvorones de Novia".