I’m so excited today. Like…really. I’m excited because tomorrow morning, I’m flying off this island and up to Minnesota to visit my sister and her family for almost two weeks!
I’m excited because I love my sisters and it’s always a blessing to get to spend time with one or both of them. I’m excited because I get to see my three absolutely wonderful nephews. I’m excited because it’s the first time I’ve seen them in over two and a half years. It’s been far too long, and they will have grown far too much, and in all honesty, my heart will probably break just a little bit at the first sight of them. Growing children are always so bittersweet.
I’m also excited because I’m surprising those three fantastic boys! I arrive very, very late tomorrow night…pretty much Thursday by that time…and they’ll be sound asleep in their little beds. My sis and I devised a little scheme to really shock them. I’m going to rise and shine, bright and early, so that I can leave and knock on the door when they’re all assembled for breakfast. I can’t wait to see the looks on their faces! It’s going to be priceless. ♥
I have so many things planned for my trip back to civilization, most of it involving being ridiculously girly with my sister, or being the coolest aunt ever with my nephews. I’m going to shop with her, I’m going to bake with them. I’m going to get my hair done with her, I’m going to play hide and seek with them. I’m going to get pedis with her, I’m going to hike with them. I’m going to laugh until I ache with her, I’m going to laugh until I ache with them. It’ll be heaven.
There’s one more thing that I’m excited about, though, that has nothing to do with the people I love.
I’m excited to go to Starbucks. A lot. I have no shame. I love the place, it’s true love, and you can’t fight a love like ours. Yes, I know, I’m no coffee drinker, but that’s why I’m lucky. Since I don’t drink coffee, I’ve discovered the many other delicious treats that Starbucks has to offer, and as I’ve said before, my favorite is their chai tea latte. In preparation for my northern exposure, I decided to make another chai treat, this time with the hubster in mind. Maybe you remember how much he loves shortbread?
His love for shortbread and my love for all things chai seemed like a match made in heaven, so I made chai shortbread cookies. Guess what? I was right…it is a match made in heaven. They’re fantastic! The flaky, buttery goodness of shortbread is the perfect platform for the sweet, spicy, smoky flavors of chai. Especially with, you guessed it, a hot cup of chai tea. You might think that it’d be overkill, but it isn’t. It’s just plain wonderful. I love the way the crumbs of cookie melt away in the wash of hot chai. This was a perfect rainy day treat, and so easy too! Mix it up, press it in, bake, and go. Plus, you can eat it warm from the oven for an extra yummy treat.
For the cookies, I started with the same basic recipe that I used in my Buttery Shortbread Cookies: unsalted butter (at room temperature), confectioners’ sugar, all-purpose flour, salt, and a little plain with sugar for sprinkling. One of the best things about this original recipe, as well as my chai variation, is that they can both be made vegan/dairy free and gluten free. Just use margarine in place of the butter (and make sure your sugars are vegan) for the vegan/DF version. Since there are no leaveners in these cookies, and no working of the dough to produce gluten for lift, you can also substitute a GF flour for the all-purpose flour (again, make sure that your sugar is GF) to make these GF shortbread cookies!
To take these from plain shortbread to chai, I used the chai spice mix from my vanilla chai tea cupcakes, which consists of cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, nutmeg, and ginger. Mix all of the spices together in a small bowl and set them aside for now.
The remaining teaspoon of chai spice will go into the sugar that we’re going to sprinkle onto the cookies just before they bake. For the record, this chai sugar/spice mixture is amazing in tea. Just thought you’d wanna know that.
One of my beautiful and amazing friends, Karen, sent me an incredibly generous and sweet care package for my birthday, and included in it was some of my favorite tea from one of the best companies. I’m a lucky girl to have such fantastic friends.
You can use any brand of chai that you like, and one of my favorites is Stash Decaf Chai. This particular tea is full leaf, so I crushed it in a mortar and pestle to make it finer and more easily dispersed throughout the mixture.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough resembles wet sand, don’t over beat.
This is my well loved, but still beautiful shortbread pan. It makes shortbread baking the easiest thing ever, but if you don’t have a shortbread pan, check out the buttery shortbread cookies post again for easy directions on how to make individual shortbread cookies.
If you are using a pan, just press the cookie dough in firmly, and sprinkle the top generously with the chai sugar mixture. You don’t have to use all of the sugar here. In fact, I like to save about half of it, and sprinkle it on the other side of the cookies once they come out of the pan. If you follow the directions from the link above to make individual cookies, then I highly recommend rolling each cookie in the sugar mixture before flattening them. Using your hands, press the dough together to form a ball then press into a shortbread pan. Bake at 300 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes.
The cookies are perfectly delicious just the way they are, but they’re also excellent with a little vanilla glaze (again from the buttery shortbread post). It just depends on your mood, but the glaze adds a little extra sweetness that our boy loved.
Plus, if you’re feeling crafty, you can wrap them up in pretty homemade tea tags like mine. I’ve included a link below for the ones that I made so that you can print them out for yourselves, if you like. Enjoy!
Chai Tea Shortbread
Makes 8 to 10 cookies
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cardamom
3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
3/4 teaspoon ground clove
3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 bag chai tea leaves, optional (if they’re whole leaf, crush them to make them finer)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still cool (margarine, for vegan/dairy free version)
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
In a small bowl, combine the cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, clove, and nutmeg until thoroughly combined. Remove one teaspoon of the mixture and, in a small separate bowl, stir it into the 2 tablespoons of sugar; set aside.
In a medium bowl combine the remaining chai spice mix (and chai tea, if using) with the flour and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, beat the butter and confectioners’ sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the flour mixture and beat until the dough resembles wet sand, don’t over beat. Using your hands, press the dough together to form a ball then press into a shortbread pan, or shape into several 1- to 1 1/2-inch balls. If making the balls, press them down to flatten them slightly after placing them on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Press the chai sugar mixture into the top of the dough (I usually reserve half of it to sprinkle on the cookies once I take them from the pan, but you can use as much or as little as you like). Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top feels firm and the edges are golden.
Recipe and “yummy/sweet” tea tags by Darla
Click on the link(s) below, then click File > Save as or Print. Print at 100%, do not scale, on heavy bright white paper, cut out along lines, fold in half and glue to the ends of ribbon, string, or twine.