Chai Shortbread

Remember back when I used to offer non-caffeinated baking mixes? This recipe was the basis for the Chai Shortbread cookie mixes! Absolutely delicious, and super easy to make.

A note about shortbread: The secret to great shortbread is to NOT develop the gluten. This is the reason for the cornstarch in the recipe – a “secret” ingredient for many families of shortbread makers. Cornstarch does not develop gluten.

Additionally, this is why you should be very careful not to over beat the mixture once the dry ingredients have been incorporated! Much like how kneading bread dough is to develop the gluten – giving bread structure – over beating the mixture will do the same to these cookies. In this case, you don’t want developed protein, and strong structure – you want tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread – so Mix JUST until combined!

Chai Shortbread

1 cup room temperature butter (unsalted)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
2 Tbsp instant tea (unflavored)*
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp cardamom
1/2 tsp cloves
1/2 tsp nutmeg

Cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together until well combined, smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.

Gently add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture, stirring until just combined. DO NOT overbeat! Gather the dough together into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour.

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, dust your work surface with a bit of flour, preheat oven to 350°. Roll chilled dough out to about 1/4″ thick, cut into desired shapes. Carefully transfer cookie cut outs to baking pans, chill for another 10 minutes.

Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly brown. Allow cookies to cool before transferring from cookie sheet – they are much more delicate when hot!

Makes about 2 dozen cookies, depending on size.

* There are several types of instant tea out there. What you’re looking for is just dried tea, and tea leaves should be the only ingredient, or pretty close. What you do NOT want is instant iced tea powder containing sugar and other ingredients. If you can’t find the right stuff, the tea can be omitted!

Entering this recipe in the Food Bloggers of Canada “Christmas in July” Cookie Contest!

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