Shortbread, butter cookies or tea biscuits? I’m not really sure of the difference, but my 8 year old self would have loved to have these at my American Girl and Beanie Baby tea parties. Surprisingly, I never owned an Easy Bake Oven – I was never that cool kid frosting cakes with raw eggs in them for family to suffer through (I feel like they would never pass the child safety inspection now). I suppose with the help of my mom and grandma, I went straight to the real deal. (Hi Grandma! Thanks for not minding when I got egg shell in the batter! Or that time we made jam and it ended up on your kitchen ceiling…)
My mom and I always shared our love for a good cookie with our afternoon tea or coffee. Because when drinking hot beverages, one just needs a little something to go with it. One of my all time favorites was the Dessert Stone cookie, or maybe possibly the Almond Crescent from Hope’s Way (now closed, but reopened as Ithaca Bakery…though, not as good).
In other news, things that happened this week:
Stranger Things 2. Oh man (SPOILER ALERT!). So good, but not quite as good as the 1st (but when are sequels ever as good? well…maybe Star Wars. IV, V and VI are DEFINITELY better than prequels.) Anyone else find Dustin to be the most annoying character ever? Or do you find him endearing? I suppose that last scene at the Snow Ball was kind of heartwarming. Also, we could have really done without the excursion to Chicago. Just saying. BUT I did love the Hopper-El dynamic and Winona stayed true to her absolutely crazy but always right mom persona. Love. It.
Up in our neck of Lake Champlain it has gotten cold. Real cold. Like I feel it might snow at any point. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating but after the warm fall we’ve had, this brisk New England fall weather feels pretty darn wintery. Oh and Pastaboy just reminded me that it’s actually only 50° out and I need to put my winter coat back in the closet…
Along that wintery note… how soon is too soon to start holiday baking recipes? Asking for a friend who has some darling Christmas sprinkles just begging to be sprinkled on some cookies or cakes. And yes, that friend is me. In case that wasn’t obvious.
I ended up making two versions of this that I liked equally well. One using masala chai tea leaves straight in the dough and one using cardamom and cinnamon. Honestly, they’re both gosh darn delicious, but if you have to choose one to make, I’d probably make the one with cardamom and cinnamon. Why? Well number one reason being they’re caffeine free so I can eat these any ol’ time and share a few nibbles with Bompy. Also, cardamom is basically life to me so I would be happy with just a cardamom shortbread (I don’t particularly LOVE love the star anise and black peppers found in chai all the time, yes on occasion, but a whole batch of cookies is a bit much). So for the main recipe, I’ll use cardamom and cinnamon, but please see the notes below for the tea leaves variation. You can also either roll out and cut your cookies or simply mush the dough into a parchment lined pan and cut your cookies afterwards. Totes up to you.
Masala Chai Spiced Shortbread
1 1/4 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter
1/8 teaspoon almond extract
1-2 tablespoons unsweetened almond milk or cold water
Preheat oven to 350°.
In a medium sized mixing bowl whisk together flour, sugar, both spices and salt. Cube butter and cut in using a pastry knife or your fingers if you’re feeling playful. Continue to mix and add in almond extract and either almond milk or cold water.
If you’re going the baking pan route, you can simply mix your dough until you have large crumbs and then press crumbs into a parchment lined 9×7 or 8×8 baking pan. Bake for 25-28 minutes or until golden on edges and middle is not mushy to the touch. Let cool on rack and then use a large knife to slice your cookies into small squares or rectangles.
If you’re planning on rolling out your dough, continue to mix with a spatula or you hands (slight wet hands work best!) until the butter in your dough is consistent throughout. Shape into ball, wrap in plastic and chill for at least 15 minutes. Once chilled, roll out onto a flour surface until 1/4″ thick and cut with your preferred cookie cutters. Place cookies onto parchment lined baking sheet and bake for 15-18 minutes or until just lightly golden on the edges. Let cool on rack. Yields 18-20 small cookies. Store in airtight container and enjoy!
Masala Chai Tea Leaves: instead of the cardamom and cinnamon, use 1/2 teaspoon organic masala chai tea leaves in the dough.
Chocolate Dipped: Melt 1/3 cup dark chocolate with 1 teaspoon coconut oil and dip half of cookie in. Let cool completely to harden chocolate.
Vegan: sub melted room temperature coconut oil 1:1 for butter.
MORE ALMONDS PLEASE: add 1/4 teaspoon of almond extract instead of 1/8 teaspoon and whisk in 1/4 cup of slivered raw almonds. You can also sub 1/2 of the flour with almond meal. Um, did I mention my middle name was almond-lover?