Mocha Tea Cakes

 Russian tea cakes are a favorite Christmas cookie at our house. This recipe from Land O’ Lakes is a nice variation on them. Chocolate and coffee being favorites of ours I knew they would be a hit and they were. They are a little softer than the recipe I use otherwise, but the flavor is great. 
 Now I must say I did not have any ground espresso powder on hand, as I thought I did. However, Sue had given me a bottle of coffee flavoring. I used it instead and it worked great. I found that a scant ½ teaspoon gave me just the right coffee taste for our family. In case you want to try that, it is Frontier brand flavoring. I am not sure how widespread that is but there are other brands that should have it.
 The only drawback to using the flavoring is that I did not have any espresso to put in the powdered sugar to roll the cookies in, but they were fine without it.
Mocha Tea Cakes
1 cup butter softened
½ cup sugar
¼ cup unsweetened cocoa (not hot chocolate mix)
1 tablespoon water
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder or ½ teaspoon coffee flavoring (to taste)
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa
½ teaspoon instant espresso powder optional
Heat oven to 325°F. Combine softened butter and sugar in large bowl. Beat at nedium speed scraping bowl often, until creamy. Add all remaining cookie ingredients except flour and pecans; continue beating uintil well mixed. Reduce speed to low and add flour. Beat until well mixed. Stir in pecans.
 Shape dough into 1 inch balls. Place 1 inch apart onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 20 minute or until set. Remove to wire cooling rack. Cool completely. Combine all coating ingredients in small bowl. Roll cookies in coating. Let set for at least 10 minutes and roll again if necessary.

 Store cooled cookies between layers of waxed paper in container with tight fitting lid. Cookies can be frozen up to 3 months.

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