- Duff Goldman says his go-to, bake-to-impress cookie recipe comes from his great-grandmother.
- He said he made them for his wife’s family before they got married and they helped seal the deal.
- Goldman shared his Russian tea cakes recipe with Insider to help readers get through the holidays.
Celebrity pastry chef Duff Goldman is a Food Network icon and the personality behind “Ace of Cakes,” the show that launched his TV career. But even as a professional baker, the star had to prove himself to his now-wife’s family of cookie aficionados.
In an interview with Insider about his partnership with Sun-Maid, Goldman shared his go-to, guaranteed crowd-pleaser recipe for Russian tea cakes.
The chef said his wife’s family hosts an annual Christmas party that is both a potluck and a cookie swap. One year while they were still dating, Goldman landed an invite.
“She was like, ‘These guys are good bakers and you have to bring it, especially because you’re the baker guy on television,'” he told Insider.
So, in an effort to impress, he made his great-grandmother’s Russian tea cakes (cookies that go by many names, including snowballs, polvorones, and Mexican wedding cakes).
“I know they’re good,” Goldman said with matter-of-fact confidence. “So when I brought them, afterward, I think that was when the family accepted me and was like, ‘OK, you can marry into our family.'”
He told Insider they’re one of the best cookies he makes, and that “they have the most unique, kind of crispy texture.”
Goldman said that he uses brown butter in his recipe, which removes some of the moisture, leaving you with a crunchier, less gummy cookie. “And now,” he added, “every year, I have to bake them.”
See Goldman’s recipe for Russian tea cakes — which he also included in his new book, “Super Good Cookies for Kids” — below.
Serving size: 50 cookies
For the cookie dough:
- 600 grams all-purpose flour
- 214 grams powdered sugar
- 283 grams toasted walnuts
- big pinch kosher salt
- pinch of cinnamon
- 20 grams pure vanilla extract
- 565 grams (5 sticks) butter, browned
- 453 grams (1 pound) powdered sugar
- Brown the butter
- In a medium pot over medium-high heat, melt the butter. It will begin to boil and bubble, let it, this is just the water boiling off. Once the butter stops making noise it will begin to brown. Turn the heat down to medium and keep an eye on it. Stir it around a few times. You’ll see little brown flecks appear, this is the milk solids browning. Once you have a nice color and, more importantly, a nutty, delicious smell, remove from the heat and place the brown butter in a bowl and refrigerate until cool. Do not strain it, all those little brown bits are the flavor.
- Toast the walnuts
- Heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and place the walnuts on a tray in one layer. Toast for 10-12 minutes, checking frequently. You may want to go longer, just don’t let the walnuts get too dark or they will be bitter. Remove from the oven and let them cool to room temp.
- Put the room temperature walnuts in a food processor and buzz until you have the texture of fine gravel. More course than beach sand but finer than hand-chopped walnuts. Add the rest of the ingredients and buzz until combined.
- Using a small cookie scoop, scoop out nice little half-spheres of dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Refrigerate until the dough is firm to the touch.
- Bake at 350 degrees for 22-25 minutes. Check them at 17 minutes. Rotate the tray 180 degrees after 15 minutes.
- When the cookies are done, remove from the oven and set a timer for 7 minutes. Put the remaining one pound of powdered sugar in a large bowl. When the timer goes off, gently place the warm cookies into the powdered sugar and gently toss with a fork to coat the cookies with a generous amount of powdered sugar. Gently remove the cookies with a fork. If you touch the cookies, you’ll leave a big fingerprint so, you know, don’t.
- Allow the cookies to cool completely, they taste much better at room temp than warm. They also keep for weeks, so make lots.