These Southern Tea Cakes took me a LONG time to perfect! They are perfectly dense and thick, but soft, sweet, and buttery. The vanilla bean glaze on top makes these extra special!
So, I feel like I know my way around a cookie. I’ve been posting recipes here for almost 10 years…and certainly before that “cookie enthusiast” was a bullet on my resumé. Long story short, I feel like I’m fairly familiar with the cookie game. Anyhow, a few years back I was chatting with a new friend who introduced me to the Southern Tea Cake. If you are as unfamiliar as I was, they are melt in your mouth delicious, buttery, soft cookies that were completely one of a kind. They aren’t “cakey” at all (yay!). There are lots of versions out there for tea cakes…sometimes they’re glazed, sometimes they’re plain, sometimes they’re dusted with powdered sugar.
I have seen recipes where they look a lot like a sugar cookie, and sometimes they look like scones. My recipe is neither of those. It’s literal perfection…everything you want a tea cake to be. It took me a while to get this right, but it was worth every calorie.
I used vanilla beans in mine, but feel free to use any extract in these that you would like…like almond, rum, coconut, amaretto…really it’s up to you!
And let’s just address the elephant in the room here. I used vanilla beans…which unfortunately (according to my son) makes these my cookies look like biscuits and gravy. So tea cakes in my house are now lovingly referred to as “gravy cookies”. I mean, I guess I see it. Whatever.
The dough for these is super simple, with no chill time necessary. Just roll the dough into balls and place them on a lined baking sheet. It’s very similar to a sugar cookie dough…
When they are baked they won’t spread too much, leaving them tall.
Go ahead and whip up your super simple vanilla bean glaze…
And then pour it onto each little tea cake…
See how pretty! You do this when they are warm for a thinner glaze, or cooled for a thicker glaze.
I let the glaze set up and then I couldn’t wait to dig in.
These are some of the best treats ever…classic, but unique!
makes 13-15 tea cakes
- 1 cup butter, room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla and beans from one vanilla bean pod (optional)
- 2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 2 cups powdered sugar
- 3-4 tablespoons milk
- 1 vanilla bean with beans scraped out
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and sugar together for 1 minute until mixed. Add in eggs and vanilla (and vanilla beans), baking powder, and salt and mix until incorporated, scraping sides of the bowl as necessary.
- Turn mixer to low and mix in the flour until the dough just comes together.
- Form the dough into 2- inch balls and place on lined baking sheet.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes until the edges are slightly golden, careful not to over-bake.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack while preparing your glaze
- For glaze whisk ingredients all together in a bowl. Pour directly over the tea cakes.
- Allow glaze to set before eating.
store airtight for up to 3 days