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Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2014: Chai Tea Shortbread

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chai tea shortbread cookies_red papr cups_with logo

Well, it’s that time of year again. The Holidays are upon us and that means the that food bloggers from all over are dutifully making donations, and baking and shipping secret packages of cookies to one another. This is my third year participating in The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and it was just as fun this year as it has been in the past. As always, a big thank you to the lovely ladies at Love & Olive Oil and The Little Kitchen for coordinating such an awesome cookie swap and keeping all the moving parts in motion. No small task! I hope Santa has been paying attention! 

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Every year I agonize over what sort of cookie to make – it must be sturdy and tasty and not too prone to spoiling or going stale but also interesting and of course easy to make in large batches as the swap has you send out 3 dozen and the other people in my home would skin me alive if there were no testers. I finally landed on something spicy and seasonal – classic shortbread with a twist: chai tea!

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These little golden disks are great little dunkers (chai tea cookies in chai tea? yes please!) Maybe Santa doesn’t want plain milk this year, just sayin’ …

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Chai Tea 

If rolled to ¼ inch thick, this recipe makes 3 dozen two inch cookies, a bit thinner and you can stretch it to approximately 5 dozen. This dough is hampered by the use of electric mixers – you don’t want to incorporate air or volume. Hand mixing is essential. 

1 lb salted butter, softened

1 C light brown sugar

4½ C all purpose flour

2 Tbsp ground chai tea (I used David’s Tea – Bollywood Chai, but you could use whichever flavorful chai tea blend you like, just blitz it to a fine powder in your coffee or spice grinder)

In a large bowl, with a large wooden spoon, begin to work the butter until it is very soft, but not greasy. Spread and flatten it against the bowl with the back of the wooden spoon until it is creamy and very pliable, scraping down the bowl occasionally. Add the ground tea and stir until the sugar is dissolved and no longer gritty. Add the flour, 1 cup at a time, incorporating it fully before adding more. After you have added the second or third cup, you may want to finish mixing with your hands. Once all 4½ cups of flour have been mixed in, the dough will be firm and uniform, not sticky, but only dry enough to crack slightly when pressed. Leave the dough to rest for at least 1 hour at room temperature – this allows for the flavours to meld and for the butter to be completely absorbed by the flour.

Once it is rested, roll the dough out to ¼” thick on a lightly floured surface. Cut out cookies in whatever shape you like. Pricking them with a fork will help ensure that they bake up flat and smooth. Not pricking them may result in some bubbling and warping of the surface, however, I have never found this to be a major problem and I like he aesthetics of the un-pricked surface.

These cookies do not spread, so you can really load up your cookie sheet. Line it with parchment or if not using parchment, leave it ungreased, they are plenty buttery and will not stick. Bake at 325F for 18-20 minutes until the bottoms and bottom edge are golden and the tops are dry looking. Cool the cookies on a wire rack. 

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