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Cook the Book

Cook the Book: Mini Pistachio Tea Cakes

Cook the Book: Mini Pistachio Tea Cakes

[Flickr: hellolapomme]

200908242bitesizedesserts.jpgEvery week while I am picking out recipes to feature for Cook the Book, I go through a list in my head. Recipes that utilize seasonally available produce; a good variety of different courses ranging from cocktails, appetizers, entrees, and desserts; and at least one or two vegetarian dishes. Aside from those criteria, I look for recipes that aren't too complicated to make at home and don't require a huge time commitment or a lot of special equipment.

Looking through the pages of Carole Bloom's Bite-Size Desserts left me at a total loss. Every single recipe sounded utterly delicious. How in the world was I going to choose?

I decided to hand off my copy of Bite-Size Desserts to a friend and ask which recipes she liked. "Ooh, these Mini Pistachio Tea Cakes look awesome, you should do those for sure!" Decision made, and into the kitchen I went.

I had all of the ingredients on hand except for the pistachio paste, but a quick search informed me that pistachio paste is easy to make at home. It's nothing more than finely ground pistachios with confectioners' sugar and a tablespoon or two of water for consistency. I decided to grind the pistachios with a mortar and pestle instead of the food processor. My thinking was that the irregular texture of the paste would lend a nice texture to the tea cakes. The batter came together perfectly, and I spooned it into a muffin tin. I set the timer and waited for the tea cakes.

In a little less than 15 minutes they emerged from the oven. The tiny cakes had browned and risen to form little slightly pointed domes, they were, in a word, adorable. When they cooled, I popped them out of the tin and sifted confectioners' sugar over them.

But good looks and cute cakes aside, how did they taste? These little tea cakes tasted like nothing I've ever baked before. The addition of my homemade pistachio paste gave them a great crunch, and the texture of the cake itself was just dense and chewy enough to give them a great mouthfeel. One bite made it apparent that these little guys are the perfect match for a cup of tea (or coffee or a chilled glass of rosé).

Win 'Bite-Size Desserts'

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Bite-Size Desserts to give away this week.

Cook the Book: Mini Pistachio Tea Cakes

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About This Recipe

Yield:2 dozen tea cakes

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces (6 tablespoons, 3/4 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup (3 ounces) packed pistachio paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (2 1/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher or fine-grained sea salt

Procedures

  1. 1

    Position an rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 400° F. Place the mini muffin pans on a baking sheet.

  2. 2

    Beat the butter in the bowl of an electric stand mixer with the flat beater attachment or in a large mixing bowl using a hand-held mixer until it's light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the granulated sugar and beat until smooth. Stop and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Add the pistachio paste and vanilla and mix until smooth and thoroughly combined. One at a time, add the eggs. They will sit on top of the mixture, so be sure to scape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Blend thoroughly.

  3. 3

    Sift the four into a medium-size bowl. Add the salt and toss to blend. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in 2 stages, blending well after each addition. Stop after each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  4. 4

    Sift the four into a medium-size bowl. Add the salt and toss to blend. Add this mixture to the butter mixture in 2 stages, blending well after each addition. Stop after each addition and scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl.

  5. 5

    Pour the batter into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup and divide it evenly among the cavities of the mini muffin pans.

  6. 6

    Bake the cakes for 13 to 15 minutes, until light golden and a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and transfer the mini muffin pans to racks to cool completely. Turn the mini muffin pans upside down and press the cakes out, then turn them right side up.

  7. 7

    Dust the tops of the cakes with confectioners' sugar. Serve the cakes at room temperature.

  8. 8

    Note on storing the tea cakes: Store the tea cakes tightly wrapped in aluminum foil at room temperature up to 4 days. To freeze up to 4 months, wrap them tightly in several layers of plastic wrap and aluminum foil. Use a large piece of masking tape and an indelible marker to label and date the contents. If frozen, defrost the cakes overnight in the refrigerator and bring to room temperature before serving.

  9. 9

    Note on adding style: Top each cake with 2 or 3 toasted pistachio nuts before baking.

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