Tea Cakes

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Depending on the cultural origin, there are numerous variations and interpretations of tea cakes around the world. In the United States, a tea cake is usually a dense cookie made with butter, sugar, eggs, flour, milk, and flavoring; Petit Fours are also sometimes classified as tea cakes in America. In England (where tea cakes originated) they are a light, sweetened, yeast-based biscuit or bread with dried fruits that are served toasted and buttered; scones and crumpets are also considered tea cakes in England.  And in France, Madeleines, Financiers, and other almond-based cakes are considered tea cakes.

I’ve made many different American tea cakes over the years, some cookie-like and some more cake-like.  This particular recipe comes from Francois Payard, a third-generation French pastry chef.  Most his recipes in his book, Payard Cookies, come from his Father’s pastry shop in the South of France where he grew up.  These are a slightly sweet, rich, buttery little cake made in mini-muffin cups that can be topped with fruit, nuts, chocolate, coconut or just about anything you desire.  I like these tea cakes plain, dusted with powdered sugar, and sometimes topped with chopped semi-sweet chocolate.  These are unlike any tea cakes that you will find in American bakeries and are well worth the minimal effort!

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a mini-muffin pan with paper baking cups.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on medium speed for a couple of minutes to slightly soften it.

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Add the eggs, one at a time, and mix until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next.  Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until fully combined.  Don’t go too fast or the mixture may get lumpy.

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Reduce the mixer speed to low, mix in the flour.  Then slowly drizzle in the melted butter and mix until the batter is smooth.

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With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2 inch tip.  You can also just cut a 1/2 inch opening in the tip of a pastry bag or a ziplock bag.  If you are not comfortable with any of these methods, you can use a small cookie scoop to neatly scoop the batter into the cups.

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Fill the cups 3/4 full.  If desired, top with nuts, and/or semi-sweet chocolate.

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Bake until the cakes are light golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean (about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your muffin cups).  Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. Dust lightly with confectioners’ sugar.  Store in a tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days.

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TeaCakes
Author: 
Recipe type: Cookies
Cuisine: French
 
Ingredients
  • 11 ounces almond paste
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
  • 7 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Confectioners' sugar or semi-sweet chocolate (for topping, if desired)
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a mini-muffin pan with paper baking cups.
  2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the almond paste on medium speed for a couple of minutes to slightly soften it. Add the eggs one at a time, waiting until each egg is fully incorporated before adding the next. Add the egg yolks, one at a time, and mix until fully combined. Don't go too fast or the mixture may get lumpy. Reduce the mixer speed to low, mix in the flour, then slowly drizzle in the melted butter and mix until the batter is smooth.
  3. With a rubber spatula, transfer the batter to a pastry bag fitted with a ½ inch pastry tip. You can also just cut a ½ inch opening in the tip of a pastry bag or a ziplock baggie. You can also simply use a small cookie scoop to get the batter into the cups. Fill the cups ¾ full. If desired, top with nuts, and/or semi-sweet chocolate and bake until the cakes are light golden brown (about 15 to 20 minutes depending on the size of your muffin cups) and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan. Dust lightly with confectioners' sugar. Store in a tight container in a cool, dry place for up to 2 days. Adapted from Payard Cookies.