Lemon and Violet Tea Cakes

For Mothers Day, May Day, or a spring tea, these sweet little tea cakes will steal the show! So easy to make (and to eat), you may find yourself trying out all the different variations you can think of. Try adding: lime zest, chopped nuts, colored sprinkles, or culinary lavender. Skip the coconut if it isn’t to your liking, and just add a cup or so of nuts.

You almost certainly have eaten similar cookies during the holidays; they’re a classic, known as Russian Tea Cakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes, and a variety of other names. Buttery, melt-in-your-mouth tender, and minimally sweet (if you don’t count the powdered sugar they are usually rolled in), they are one of my favorite cookies on the Christmas platter. I just traded coconut for the nuts. Oh, and added lemon. And violets.

Coconut was something that just seemed to go with the lemon and violet theme. I’m not a huge fan, but I chopped it up into tiny pieces (no long stringy stuff for me) and found it delightful.

IMPORTANT: Violets (violas) are edible. Pansies, too. Both are perfect for this application. But beware; African Violets are NOT edible. Nope. Steer clear! When in doubt, do your research. I bought seeds for edible violets last year and had more flowers than I could use. They made it through our cold winter (zone 5) and are blooming like crazy again this year. Try that. Or you can order fresh violas online (if you’re Daddy Warbucks). I understand that some grocery stores offer them in season. Not where I live! One more option is candied violets. They aren’t as pretty as fresh, but still nice.

Lemon and Violet Tea Cakes
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Makes 24
Ingredients
  • 1 cup butter, room temperature
  • ¾ cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon grated lemon zest (I needed 3 large lemons for this)
  • ¼ teaspoon lemon extract (or ½ teaspoon vanilla)
  • ½ cup coconut, chopped fine
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • GLAZE
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons water or lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon meringue powder (optional)
  • 24 fresh violets, stems trimmed off as close to flowers as possible.
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 300 F. Cover two baking sheets with parchment.
  2. COOKIES: In a large bowl, beat the butter and powdered sugar until creamy.
  3. Add lemon juice, zest, extract, and coconut. Beat well.
  4. Add flour and beat just until combined. (Mixture will look crumbly.)
  5. Use a rounded tablespoon of dough for each cookie (a cookie scoop works well) and roll into balls, taking care to make them smooth and round. Space at least 1 inch apart on prepared baking sheet.
  6. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until the bottoms are golden brown.
  7. GLAZE: In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, water (or lemon juice) and meringue powder. Mixture should be fairly thin, easily pouring off a spoon.
  8. Dip the top of each cookie in the glaze and allow it to drip before turning it right side up on a piece of parchment. Immediately place a violet on top, pressing down lightly to flatten. Allow cookies to dry for at least 15 minutes, then add a little more water to the small amount of glaze left in the bowl and paint it gently over each flower. Let cookies dry thoroughly before storing.

Add lemon, zest, extract, and coconut to creamed butter and sugar mixture

Don’t over mix. It’s okay if it looks crumbly. It will come together when you scoop.

Make round balls and place cookies at least 1 inch apart

I use meringue powder for a firmer glaze, but you can skip it if you don’t have any.

Dip into glaze and place flower on icing immediately

Thin the glaze a bit and paint a layer over flowers, then let dry.

Wishing you the joy of sunshine, flowers, and sweet things!

Lorinda

2 thoughts on “Lemon and Violet Tea Cakes

  1. Yummm! I don’t like long stringy coconut either, but the taste is pretty nice. I wonder if you could sub a bit of virgin coconut oil (hard not liquid) for butter. Or is it a different kind of fat?

    • I think it would work really well, Mary Rose. And it would add a nice coconut flavor. I will try it soon.

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