by Stephanie Zonis
Makes 2-1/2 to 3 dozen cookies
The general types of these cookies are known by several different names. I've heard them called "Russian Tea Cakes" and "Mexican Wedding Cakes". Whatever their ancestry, they are buttery, hand-formed cookies, rolled in confectioners' sugar. These will keep for at least a couple of weeks at a cool room temperature if stored airtight. Like many wines and some people, these improve with age, so make them at least a couple of days before you plan to eat them.
The "Polka Dots" of the title are in the form of added chocolate chips, which give a nice chocolate "hit" when you bite into one. You can use either milk chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips; if you use the former, be aware that the chips will be a bit crunchy on the outsides when these are done. This is from heat damage (milk chocolate is very heat-sensitive), but the effect is not unpleasant. I will only use Guittard chips in these; their milk chocolate chips are very large, but that's all to the good.
Made without a mixer, these are not difficult, but you cannot overhandle the dough. I tried a version of these with cocoa in the dough to make them even more chocolate, but I liked the cookies made from plain dough better. If the room you're working in is very warm, you'll probably want to chill the dough for a while before shaping it. Some people like to roll the cookies in confectioners' sugar again just before serving, as it gives a neater appearance.
3/4 c. (1-1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/4 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla
1-3/4 c. sifted flour
Few grains salt
Generous 1 c. semisweet or milk chocolate chips
Line cookie sheets with aluminum foil, shiny side up. Set aside. Adjust rack to center of oven.
Preheat oven to 350° F.
In large bowl, combine softened butter, sugar, and vanilla. By hand, with large spoon, cream together until well-mixed and fluffy. Add about half of flour and stir in; gradually work in remaining flour and salt (dough will be stiff). Stir in chocolate chips until distributed evenly.
Form balls of dough that are just over 1" in diameter; place on lined cookie sheet (I place 15 cookies on one sheet; these don't spread much). Bake cookies one sheet at a time in preheated oven for 13-14 minutes. These will spread slightly during baking and lose their "raw" look, but the cookies shouldn't brown noticeably.
While one sheet bakes, form cookies for the next. Allow to stand on cookie sheet 2-3 minutes before removing to cooling rack (be careful--these are fragile when hot).
Cool completely before rolling thoroughly in confectioners' sugar. Store airtight at cool room temperature at least 24 hours before eating. If desired, roll in confectioners' sugar again just before eating.
Copyright © 1999 Francesca Chocolate Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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This page created September 1998
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