One of the most classic Christmas cookies is the Russian teacake. These are also called Mexican wedding cakes, nut snowballs, snowballs, or any other sort of name you can think of. I was watching a holiday baking show on the Food Network and the baker made a variation on the cookie using currants and orange. I thought that sounded great, and I went online to find a similar recipe and came up with this one.
While I don’t typically think of Russian teacakes as a shortbread cookie, they are as they contain no eggs and no leavening. We’re so accustomed to shortbread being a flat cookie that is shaped in a mold that we forget that they can be shaped in other ways too. I wasn’t sure if these would turn out as perfectly round as the traditional Russian teacake, but I figured they would be just as tasty either way.
The recipe does require a little preplanning, as you need to soak the currants in rum for a bit before making the cookies. You also chill the cookies for a short while before baking, to help them keep their shape. Other than the soaking and chilling time, the dough is easy to make, and a lot less crumbly than shortbread dough can be. They did keep their shape fairly well, so I was happy with that. The rum and currants in these are great holiday flavors, and the orange takes it over the top!
Shortbread with Rum-soaked Currants and Orange
3/4 cup currants
1/2 cup rum
1-1/2 cups butter, room temperature
3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1 tablespoon orange zest
In a small bowl, combine the currents and rum. Allow to sit for 2 hours. Drain the currants.
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with silicone baking mats.
In a large mixer bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar on medium until light. With the mixer running on low, gradually beat in the flour and cornstarch. Stir in the drained currants and orange zest.
Shape the dough into 1” balls and place on the baking sheets. Chill the shaped cookies for 20 minutes before baking.
Bake for about 20 minutes, until the cookies a very lightly browned along the edges. Roll the cookies in powdered sugar while still warm.
Recipe from Thrifty Foods