Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies

We had planned to go to a housewarming party yesterday, and I thought I would like to bring over a snack for everyone. I was short on time, though, so it had to be something easy. Thankfully, few cookies are easier than shortbread and you can put whatever you want in them! I love warm spices this time of year (even though it’s not all that cold here in Florida), so decided I would make some spice cookies. I always have all the whole spices for making my own chai (I base it on this recipe), so I decided I would make a chai glaze and add some spices to the cookies themselves. They are delicious! When I made the glaze, I steeped the spices in milk, and made enough extra to have a glass of warm, spiced milk (normal people would add tea to have a chai tea, but I was feeling lazy). I’ve included that extra amount here, since it’s hard to get the spices really good and steeped if you’re only using the couple tablespoons needed for the glaze. If you’re adamantly opposed to drinking spiced milk or tea, you can try just using the small amount of milk, although be prepared to play around a little bit with the amount as some will evaporate.

Chai Spice Shortbread
For the cookies
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
pinch ground cloves
pinch ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
2 sticks butter, softened
1/2 c granulated sugar
about 2 1/2 c flour

-Preheat oven to 350.
-In a bowl, cream together the sugar, salt, spices, and butter.
-Add half the flour and mix. Begin drizzling in remaining flour until it’s the consistency of a stiff dough (the exact amount will depend on humidity and a host of other factors). If your dough gets crumbly, add the tiniest splash (about a tsp) of milk.
-To shape the cookies, you have two options:
-Option 1: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and roll it out until it’s 1/2 inch thick. Use a cookie cutter to cut out the cookies.
-Option 2: Lay 2 pieces plastic wrap down on the counter. You want it to be long and wide enough to roll your dough up. Put half the dough on each piece of plastic (2-3 inches from the top), and shape into a ‘snake’ by gently rolling or pressing the dough. Take the top edge of the plastic and fold it over the dough. Press the dough firmly in the plastic until it’s a uniform round shape. Wrap tightly, refrigerate for half an hour, then unwrap and slice into 1/2 inch thick circles.
-Bake the cookies for about 15-18 minutes or until set and slightly golden.

For the glaze
 8 green cardamom pods, halved
10 cloves
15 peppercorns
1 tbsp fennel seeds
1 tbsp anise seeds
1/2 tsp coriander seeds
pinch salt
1 1/2 c milk
powdered sugar (about 1 cup)

-In a skillet, toast the spices over medium heat until they are fragrant.
-Add milk and bring just to a simmer. Add salt.
-Turn off the heat and allow the  spices to steep for at least 15 minutes (the longer you let it steep, of course, the more flavorful your milk is).
-Strain the spices out of the milk, and pour the milk into a glass. Reserve 2 tbsp for your glaze.
-Add powdered sugar, 1/4 cup at a time.  Stir in with a fork after each addition. Keep adding sugar until it’s the consistency you want.
-Drizzle the glaze over cooled cookies.

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