Russian Tea Cookies: A Delicious Christmas Tradition (Gluten-Free Version)

With the holidays come delicious holiday cookies, cakes, pies and other delicacies, but unfortunately children and adults with food allergies or intolerances usually have a tough time when visiting family or friends because many people just don’t know how to recreate the classic holiday favorites with suitable substitutions.

Karen Morgan, the author of Blackbird Bakery, wanted to share a few of her favorite gluten-free holiday recipes with us. Born into an Italian American family, Karen was always in the kitchen. In 2002, she was suddenly diagnosed with Celiac disease and struggled to find desserts that could satisfy her baking desires. Finding nothing, she began devising her own recipes. After cooking in France for four months in 2006, her destiny as a gluten-free baker became actualized.

In 2008, Karen founded her company Blackbird Bakery, a custom gluten-free bake shop that caters special events, creates custom recipes for local restaurants and supplies gourmet gluten-free baked goods to local businesses. Her celebrity clients include Courteney Cox Arquette, David Arquette, Laura Dern, Ben Harper, Jennifer Esposito, and Kelly Slate.

Russian Tea Cookies became a popular America tradition during Christmas tradition after Russian immigrants brought it with them at the turn of the century. What makes them simply divine is the fact that they are loaded with butter, pecans, and almond meal. The fact that they are dusted with powdered sugar the moment they come out of the oven only enhances their appeal as it melts upon contact. The fact that they are gluten free makes them a tangible holiday miracle, and for the third year running, Santa is still asking for them with his standard glass of milk.


1 cup (2 stick2) cold unsalted butter, diced
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 cup powdered sugar + more for dusting
1/2 cup almond meal
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup glutinous rice flour
1/4 cup arrowroot
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
4 teaspoons guar gum
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans
2 majooli dates, finely chopped
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all the dry
ingredients. Mix to combine. Add the unsalted butter and mix until it looks
like wet sand. Add the vanilla, pecans and dates and mix on high until the
dough folds in on itself and is soft to the touch. Transfer to a glass bow,
cover with cello and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 400°F and remove dough from the fridge.

Using a 1 1/2 inch ice cream scooper, form your dough into balls, roll
until smooth between your palms and then place on a cookie sheet lined
with either parchment paper or a silpat, 1 1/2 inches apart. Bake for 7-10
minutes. The cookies should be golden around the base and just barely
tinted on top.

Remove from the oven and immediately dust with powdered sugar. Allow
to cool completely and then roll the cookies in more powdered sugar.

Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Will keep in an airtight container for a week and a half.

Merry Christmas!