Not being from the American South, I’d never really heard of Southern Tea Cakes. When I saw the recipe, it seemed like Mexican Wedding Cakes without the nuts and instead of a coating of powdered sugar, it was covered in a glaze. Is that “the South” they were talking about? My friends who are genuinely from the South say “nah.” So this West Coast baker will have to interpret Southern Tea Cakes as a melt-in-your-mouth vanilla cookie with vanilla glaze.
Which is what I got with this cookie. What I love about the ubiquitous Mexican Wedding Cake is the soft, moist texture with the crunchy texture and flavor of toasted pecans. The Southern Tea Cake almost but not quite mimics that texture sans nuts but isn’t quite as melty in your mouth because it isn’t rolled in powdered sugar which contributes to that melty mouthfeel. Still, this is a good cookie especially if you want a simple vanilla cookie. The glaze adds a nice sweetness. You can leave it off if you choose but I recommend adding it for a little bit of elegance just to dress it up a bit.
The dough is easy to work with and, as always, I recommend portioning it into chubby dough balls and freezing first before baking. It won’t spread as much. Err on the side of just underbaking or just baking until done. The bottoms will be a light golden brown. I couldn’t quite capture the texture in the picture on the original blog where I got the recipe from so that may also be why mine weren’t as melty in the mouth as a traditional Mexican Wedding Cake but it was still quite good.
Southern tea cakes
From Jam Hands
1 cup unsalted butter 1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 cups flour
1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat butter and sugar together for 1 minute until combined. Add eggs and vanilla; mix until incorporated.
2. Whisk together baking powder, salt and flour; add gradually to butter-sugar mixture, beating until just combined. Do not overmix.
Portion dough into 2-inch balls, cover and chill or freeze for several hours or overnight.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Evenly space dough balls on baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden. Do not overbake. Cool on wire rack while preparing glaze.
For the glaze:
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3-4 tablespoons milk
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whisk ingredients together in a bowl. Pour over tea cakes. Allow glaze to set before eating.
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