Russian Almond Cookies (Миндальные Кольца)

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There is no drink more important to a Russian than his tea. Not vodka, not beer. Tea. Tea is served with breakfast, with breaks, with lunch and in the evenings. The classic is basic black, though milk oolong (my favourite), green, earl grey and all the usual suspects are also popular.

Tea is generally served black, sometimes with lemon, sugar, or even jam stirred in. (Jam makes a lot more sense when you think that it’s often quite liquidy, or consists of suspended pieces of fruit in sugar syrup.) When I mentioned to some adult students that people in Canada/Britain will often put milk in their tea, they reacted with looks of horror. Russians get it, yeah yeah, but it’s not the done thing, and if you get offered a cup of tea it won’t be coming with milk.

If it’s your afternoon or break time you might want some печенье (cookies) too. These turned out more like circles, and less ring-like, than the traditional versions, but you get the idea. Think of these as shortbread biscuits. And, unlike some of my last recipes, they are really, really easy.

This recipe came from Darra Goldstein’s amazing book A Taste of Russia. It’s 30 years old and yet still super comprehensive and a delightful read. If you have even a passing interest in Russian cooking, it is well worth the money.

Russian Almond Cookies (Миндальные Кольца), adapted from A Taste of Russia

  • 225g (1 cup) butter
  • 100g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 250g (2 cups) flour
  • 2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
  • 85g (1 cup) sliced almonds
  • 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar

Cream the butter and 100g sugar until fluffy. Mix in the eggs and stir in the flour until mixed. Wrap it up into a ball and refrigerate for 1-2 hours until firm.

Preheat your oven to 375°F/190°C. On a lightly floured counter, roll out your dough and cut some round (or fluted) shapes. Mine were largish cookies, but you could make them smaller if you wanted. You could also cut a hole in the centre if you wanted them to be true “rings.”

Transfer your cookies to a baking sheet, brush with the beaten egg yolks and sprinkle on the almonds and sugar. Bake for 12-15 minutes until the edges are golden. Let them cool on the baking sheet. And that’s it! Всë! This should yield 10-12 tasty cookies.

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