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rose cardamom tea cakes

rose cardamom tea cakes


Tea cakes are a classic dessert in the southern US. I have seen different versions of them, some more cake-like while others are more like sugar cookies; some have frosting and others don’t. This version – perhaps the Alabama version of teacakes? – is based on my great-great-grandmother’s recipe and it produces a dense, fluffy cookie. These Rose Cardamom Tea Cakes are a twist on classic southern US tea cakes with flavors inspired by middle eastern desserts.

Ingredients for Rose Cardamom Tea Cakes

Cardamom – Freshly grated cardamom has the best flavor, so I strongly recommend using it. However, the flavor will be much stronger, so you may want to use ¼ teaspoon in place of ½ teaspoon. I used green cardamom in this recipe.

Cream – I recommend using cream in the frosting instead of milk if you are using gel food coloring. The cream will make a smoother frosting that will store longer without separating.

Rosewater – If you don’t want to use rose flavoring, you can substitute another teaspoon of vanilla. 

Rose pink food coloring – I used gel food coloring. You could also add a small amount of red liquid or gel food coloring. Powdered food coloring will affect the frosting texture less than gel. If you decide to use it, add it at the same time as the confectioner’s sugar.


rose cardamom tea cakes

rose cardamom tea cakes

Notes on Technique

  • The cookie dough should make 14-16 large tea cakes. The best way to get your tea cakes uniform in size is to use an ice cream scoop. I used a scoop with a 2-inch diameter.
  • When the tea cakes are done, they will be barely browned on the edges. If the centers still look a little wet, they need a couple more minutes.
  • Use a large open star or drop flower piping tip to pipe the rosettes. I used the Wilton 1M. 
  • I love to use silicone piping bags because they are reusable. They are also thicker than cheap plastic piping bags, and will insulate the frosting better from the warmth of your hands.
  • When transferring frosting into a piping bag, I like to stand the bag tip-down in a large plastic cup. You can fold the edges of the bag over the rim of the cup and use a long spoon to fill the tip of the bag with frosting. My piping bag wasn’t quite big enough for all of the frosting, so I had to refill it once.
  • When you are done piping, chill the tea cakes in the refrigerator so the frosting will set. The rosettes will hold their shape better long-term if you store the tea cakes in the refrigerator.


rose cardamom tea cakes

rose cardamom tea cakes

Rose Cardamom Tea Cakes

Prep Time 40 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 52 mins
Course Dessert
Cuisine Southern US
Servings 14 Cookies


For the Tea Cakes:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour (250 g)
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened (113 g)
  • 1 cup sugar (200 g)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup milk (60 ml)
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rosewater

For the Frosting:

  • 14 tablespoons butter, softened (200 g)
  • 3 cups confectioner's sugar (360 g)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 pinch salt
  • 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 1 teaspoon rose extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • few drops rose pink food coloring


Make the Tea Cakes:

  • Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and line 2 baking sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, salt, and cardamom.
  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar for about 1-2 minutes, until fluffy. Add the egg and mix until fully incorporated. Pour in the milk, vanilla extract, and rose water, and mix until well combined. Change to a large spoon and stir in the flour mixture in 2 additions.
  • Use an ice cream scoop to shape about 14-16 tea cakes, spacing them evenly on the baking sheets. Bake them at 350° F (180° C) for 12-14 minutes, until the tops are barely browned on the edges and the centers no longer look wet. Move them to a cooling rack and let them sit for at least 30 minutes before frosting.

Make the Frosting:

  • In a large bowl, with an electric mixer, beat the butter until it becomes fluffy, about 1 minute. Add 1 cup of the confectioner's sugar, along with the cardamom and salt, and mix until fully combined. Mix in 2 tablespoons of cream, then the remaining confectioner's sugar, adding more cream if the frosting seems too thick. Once the sugar is fully incorporated, add the rose water and the food coloring, mixing until the frosting is smooth and uniform in color.
  • Fit a piping bag with an open star tip - I used the Wilton 1M. Fill the bag with frosting and pipe a large rosette on top of each tea cake. The frosting holds its shape best if stored in the refrigerator. The tea cakes can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.
Keyword cardamom, cookies, rose, southern us