I am struggling to survive the earliest hours of the morning. It is the time when my allergy medication has worn off and breathing suddenly becomes an uphill battle. We had a glimpse of warm weather a few weeks back - just enough warmth to tease our winter-weary hearts and allow the allergens entrance. It’s the worst year I have ever had with allergies, and I am toting around my box of tissues, vile of peppermint oil, and bottle of Claritin like my life depended upon it, and frankly, I am convinced that it does.
We have just over a month of winter ahead of us and it’s been a long, dreary season, so let’s pull out all the stops and make something that won’t stop your sneezing, but might just make living with it a little more bearable.
I am not exactly what my mother would call a “cutesy” baker.
Sure, I’ve made a few unicorn cakes in my time, but for the most part, I leave the bunny posterior cupcakes and cleverly cut vegetables to Pinterest.
That said, there are times when I cannot resist digging for the traces of my mother’s crafty nature and pulling out the cookie cutters. I don’t know about you, but I am still struggling to find my place in 2019 and its been tricky to get my footing. Thank goodness that no matter how little makes sense in this life, we can lean upon the fact that butter, flour, and sugar still make cookies.
So, let’s make some. I am giving you two cookie recipes in a row which goes against all of my carefully planned rules of blog curating, but I think it really just means that I love you a lot.
Shortbread is laughably easy to whip up, but it does require a bit of patience and extra care. Not only will we take the time to chill our cookie dough, we will also take the cut cookies on a quick trip to the freezer so that they will maintain their shape when baked.
Your favorite loose leaf earl grey tea is blended into the sugar by way of your food processor. Not only will mixing these two ingredients help to carry the flavor of the tea throughout the dough, this will also break down the tea leaves into fine bits that will not negatively effect the texture of our cookie.
I have seen and tried many an earl grey-infused recipe which promised to deliver the flavor of one of my favorite brews in pastry form. Most of them have sadly failed, but not these cookies. The flavor is undoubtably present, but comes in as more of an after-note.
The butter and fine bits of white chocolate hit your palate first, and the lovely notes of black tea and bergamot fall upon your tongue just after, it’s subtle and beautiful.
I am not sure what I am doing these days. I’m just trying to juggle around dreams, responsibilities, and relationships with some sort of balance and grace, knowing that when I drop all of the balls, there’s a cup of tea and a cute cookie waiting for me.
White Chocolate Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
YIELDS 24 COOKIES
8 ounces unsalted butter, softened
4 ounces granulated sugar
3 tablespoons loose leaf earl grey tea
12 ounces cake flour
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup white chocolate, finely chopped
cotton string cut into 24 6-inch pieces
Place butter in the work bowl of your stand mixer that has been fitted with the paddle attachment. With the mixer on medium speed, beat butter until fluffy; about 2 minutes.
Combine granulated sugar and earl grey tea in the work bowl of your food processor and pulse until the tea is in fine pieces. Allow the sugar to settle a bit before removing the lid from your food processor.
Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl and beat in prepared sugar. Cream the mixture for 2 minutes.
Reduce the speed to low and gradually add flour and salt. Increase speed to medium, and mix until the dough comes together in a smooth ball.
Turn the dough out onto a floured surface, shape into a disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Chill for fifteen minutes.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lay the disc of dough out onto a well-floured surface and roll out to 1/3-inch in thickness. Use a tea-bag cookie cutter to stamp out cookies. (I used this one!)
Lay the cut cookies onto the lined baking sheets, then re-roll any scraps of dough and cut out another series of cookies. Discard any remaining scraps of dough.
Cook’s Note: While you could certainly get more cookies if you continued to re-roll the scraps, I find that after the second rolling, the dough becomes unpleasantly tough and glutinous.
Use the end of a small paint brush or skewer to punch small holes at the top of each “tea-bag” so that the cookies can be strung later.
Place the baking sheets in the freezer to chill for fifteen minutes.
Bake the cookies for 12-15 minutes, until the edges are just golden. Transfer the cookies to cooling racks and allow to cool completely, then string with prepared yarn and knot at the top of the cookie.
Cook’s Note: If you have any difficulties getting the string through the hole in your cookie, you can gently widen the hole using a tooth pick. Simply insert the tooth pick in the hole and move it around in a circular motion, being very careful so as not to crack the cookie.
Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.