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Spice Up Your Holiday with Chai Shortbread Cookies

I love spices. Not the “hot” type like crazy-red-Thai-chili-peppers, but spices that make food rich and flavorful. My love of spices is one of the reasons I’m always trying new ethnic cuisine, I’m interested in each cuisine’s combination of spices/flavors.

One of my favorite spice combinations is the mixture of spices that make up “chai tea” (the proper name is “masala chai” and the definition is “mixed spiced tea”).  Chai is made with green or black tea and steeped with milk, sugar, and many different spices: cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. The spice combination is amazing and I could drink this sweet tea after every meal.

When I found the recipe for Chai Shortbread Cookies, I wondered if I would like the spice combination in a cookie as much as I like it in my tea. My kids were eager to help me test them since they like chai tea as well, and are always in the mood for making (and eating) cookies!

Before you start making your cookies, preheat the oven to 325°.  Put all the ingredients for the cookies in a bowl (except the flour) and start mixing slowly. We started mixing too fast and my daughter wound up with a face full of powdered sugar. When your mixture looks creamy, turn the mixer speed to Low and slowly add the flour.

Once your dough is mixed, shape the dough into 1-inch balls and put them 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. I’m sure each of our dough balls was not exactly 1-inch since I wasn’t measuring each one with a ruler. I made the first one (to use as an example) and then had my daughter make the rest of the dough balls.

Once you’ve made all of the dough balls, you are going to flatten them. Dip the bottom of a small glass in sugar and then lightly press the dough balls into circles (should be about 1 ½ inches in diameter). As I did with the dough balls, I pressed one into a circle and let my daughter do the rest of the flattening. 

If the dough starts to get soft and sticky, start double dipping the glass in the sugar (make sure it’s full of sugar), then press lightly on the dough ball. There’s nothing wrong (with soft and sticky dough), it means the butter is getting too soft. Put the bowl of cookie dough into the refrigerator to chill for 15 to 30 minutes. It is very tricky to work with when it is too soft and sticky. Put the cookies in the oven and set the timer for 11 minutes. The edges of the cookies should be starting to brown, if they are not, set the timer for another 2 minutes. Check again and repeat if necessary. It may seem unnecessary to set the timer for each interval, but trust me, if you don’t set it, you will start doing something else and forget about your cookies. It’s happened to the best of us!

While the cookies are baking, you can start making the filling. Start by adding the instant coffee and half and half into the mixing bowl, stir until combined. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the remaining ingredients. Once everything is moistened, turn the mixer to high speed and beat until the mixture is smooth and creamy. It should have the consistency of frosting.

Once the cookies are done baking, take them out of the oven and let them cool on the cookie sheet for a few minutes. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let them cool completely.

Mix together the topping ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.

Once the cookies are cooled, you can start filling them. Take a dollop of filling and spread on the back of one cookie, add another cookie to the other side, just like a sandwich.

Before serving sprinkle the topping on the cookies and place them on a colorful plate. 

These cookies were a big success! We loved the flavor combination and the spices work perfectly together. We are definitely making another batch to bring to our next holiday party and I am having one tomorrow morning with my coffee!

Give these Chai Shortbread Cookies a try for your next holiday party, and make sure to come back and let me know how they turned out for you!

Looking for a fun holiday snack that kids can help with? Up next, Alex will share a great idea.

Bridget is paid to write for the Land O’Lakes Recipe Buzz® Blog.


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These are incredible cookies - with or without the filling. They're also one of the few cookies my husband can eat on a Chronic Kidney Disease diet - no sodium, potassium or phosphates. These will definitely be on my annual Christmas cookie list as well as frequently throughout the year!

Posted Dec 23 2011 by Linda

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