For someone who has long avowed that she does not like cookies, I'm finding that I protest overmuch because I'm slowly discovering that yes, in fact, I do like cookies. But I am particular about the cookies I eat. Adulthood has moved me away from Chips-Ahoy and Keebler and brought me into the celestial sphere of high end, gourmet and utterly delectable cookies. First it was cantuccini. Then Madeleines.
In my last post about cookies, I mentioned my thin-mint-a-holism.
Shannon left a comment about a frosting covered sugar cookie that she and her husband refer to as the Heroin Cookie.
Well, these are my version of heroin cookies. I kid you not. You start eating them, you can't stop. My sister Kaly is my pusher. She started making them years and years ago and these are her specialty, so much so that last year, she baked 800 (yes, 800, but that is due both to the fact that she is a) kind and b) a Hong and therefore given to these freakish fits and starts) of these cookies in her tiny stove in her elegantly petite Manhattan apartment. How tiny a stove? It could fit only a 16" cookie sheet. ONE AT A TIME.
I've known about Kaly's Russian Tea Cakes for years, but as she began making them prolifically and proficiently long after we no longer lived under the same roof, I wasn't really aware how good they are. My first inkling came when Hani mentioned that Souris had requested, and received, a box by mail, of these famous cookies. And I thought, Kaly ships? So last January, for my baby shower, I asked Kaly to send a shipment to serve with the tea party the girls were hosting for me. When the box arrived, I found 100 cookies all nestled gently amidst individual layers of bubble wrap to prevent them from being smashed. Being careful about quality assurance, I lifted one and took it to have with my tea.
And decided promptly that there was enough food and sweets for the tea party and I would not need (nor did I want) to share these cookies. They are that amazing, yes. When Joetta and Jenn arrived, I offered some to them. We all agreed that these did not need to be shared with the rest of the crowd...
And so it began. That confectioner's sugar on the cookie? May as well be pure grade A heroin.
When next I encountered them it was at Dad's 75th birthday party. Kaly baked 150 cookies for him and the family made relatively short work of nearly half of them. After they left, I made off with the rest. Mom had put the box in the closet and I went deep inside the closet repeatedly and refused to come out.
When I depleted my father's entire store of birthday cookies (which, I should also note, he and Mom routinely hide from THEIR guests, so it should tell you how coveted they are), I realized I was in big trouble. So a furtive late night call to Kaly:
Me: Kaly, I have been a bad bad bad cookie monster.
Kaly: What happened?
Me: I ate all of Dad's cookies.
Kaly: Ki! Those were Dad's birthday cookies.
Me: I know. I know. I have to make another batch to restore his stash.
Even though Kaly gave me the recipe over the phone, I had no time to replace Dad's depleted supply, but since Dad and Mom do not have addictive personalities, I don't believe they're any the wiser since the (unknown-to-them-empty) box remained in their closet.
I made some earlier this week for a friend's tea party, but am resisting the urge to make any for myself. I know my weaknesses.
"Hello. My name is Cath. I am a cookie fiend."
Russian Tea Cakes
This is the second recipe Kaly's shared with me and just like the first one (Madeleines) these are virtually foolproof. She gave me a copy of Emily Luchetti's Classic Stars Desserts, which features the original recipe that Kaly used to create her masterpiece.
Kaly's Russian Tea Cakes recipe, modified, is below. If you would like Emily Luchetti's recipe, email me at ablithepalate at gmail dot com.
1 3/4 cups (6 oz) almond flour (this is finely ground blanched almonds; alternatively you may use other nuts and grind them to a fine meal in a food processor)
2 cups all purpose flour
6 T sugar
8 oz unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 t vanilla extract
1 t salt
Confectioner's sugar for dusting
Preheat oven to 325.
Cream butter and 4 T sugar until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla until combined, then reduce speed and add the flour, almond flour, salt and the remaining 2T of sugar. Using a small scoop or two spoons, scoop a spoonful of dough and roll it into a 1 inch ball. Place them on a lined baking sheet.
Bake them until they are light brown, approximately 20 minutes. At ten minutes, switch the cookie sheets between the racks and rotate them so they bake evenly. Do not let them overcook or become too brown. Remove from the oven and dust them liberally with confectioner's sugar. Cool on a rack.
To store, keep in an airtight container at room temperature.