There are times when only something fancy will do - but if you're clever, you don't have to work hard as well. These lovely tea cakes are a case in point: As easy to make as plain sugar cookies, but as fancy as all get out. Tea cakes are perfect with tea, of course, but these also pair well with chocolate mousse or ice cream. Best of all, the dough needs to chill, so they are a make-ahead delight.
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
2 Tablespoons The Spice House Lavender Vanilla Sugar
In a medium bowl, mix the flour, salt, and baking soda. Set them aside.
Cream the butter using an electric mixer for about a minute until it turns a pale yellow color. Scrape it down from the sides of the bowl, add the sugar, and beat again about 2 minutes, until it is very soft and almost white. Add the eggs and vanilla, and beat at medium speed about a minute, until it is fluffy and smooth. Stop the mixer and scrape again.
Slowly beat in the mixed dry ingredients, a little at a time. Mix only until the dough sticks together and there are no streaks of unblended flour. Don't overbeat - you don't want the tea cakes to be tough. Wrap the dough and chill it overnight (and up to one week). Note that the dough may be frozen up to a month if wrapped well and zipped into a plastic zip bag. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator before using.
On baking day, preheat oven to 375°F/190°C and set out a small bowl of lavender-vanilla sugar. Divide the chilled dough into 36 equal portions, and roll each into a ball. Dip each ball into the sugar, making sure that the top half is well coated. Place the sugared balls 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Bake 13-15 minutes, until the edges just barely start to brown. Slide the parchment right off the pans and let the tea cakes cool on a rack.