These shortbread-like nut balls are mysteriously referred to both as Russian Tea Cookies and Mexican Wedding Cakes — for Phoebe’s Top Chef Cook-Off, I stuck with the theme of the latter. Typically, you make them with very little sugar in the dough; they’re sweetened instead by rolling them through a mountain of powdered sugar after baking. But because I wasn’t in the mood to dust powdered sugar from every corner of my kitchen, I opted to mix the sugar into the dough. They stay crisp this way, too — whereas sugar on the outside can become soggy.
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl, mix the softened butter well, with a spoon, spatula, or (if your kitchen’s big enough) an electric mixer; add the sugars and mix more, until smooth and creamy. Add the bourbon (you can also just use ½ teaspoon of vanilla, but I was feeling extra festive). Put in the flour and the nuts, stirring just until the flour is absorbed by the butter-sugar mixture.
Roll tiny balls (large marble-sized) and put them on an ungreased cookie sheet, 2 inches apart. Bake for 6-9 minutes, until the cookies have spread slightly and look dry on top. Cool on the sheets, a rack, a plate or a clean countertop. When fully cooled, serve, or keep in an airtight container.