Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

A, my best friend from childhood, is the birthday girl tomorrow.  Yes, she is catching up to me and will be 28.  It's the age to be.

Like me, A appreciates good food.  I decided that birthday cookies were a good idea and am fairly certain that her husband and three kids will agree.  I began perusing the internet, searching my favorite food blogs and websites, and came across something creative, tasty and EASY.

Some time ago, I began thinking about how tasty it would be to make a cake with tea in it.  I imagined adding highly concentrated tea to the batter, but it never occurred to me to actually put tea leaves in anything.  And then I happened upon a recipe for Earl Grey Tea Shortbread.  I think it worked out quite tastily.  Because I had never made shortbread before, I was hesitant to experiment too much.  Next time I will make some alterations, which I will write at the end of the recipe.  Warning: this is not healthy at all.  But good shortbread never is.

I found the original recipe here

Yields approx. 4 dozen small cookies

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea (about 4 bags)*
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest (reserve orange)**

1. Combine flour, tea and salt in a bowl.  set aside

2. Put butter, sugar and orange zest in a mixing bowl.  Using an electric mixer, mix on low-to medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes).  Using low speed only, gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.

3. Divide dough in half.  Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper and shape into logs.  Roll tightly in parchment paper, squeezing as you go to narrow and shape the log and force out air.  Tuck ends under (like wrapping a present) to seal the log entirely in parchment paper and place flat in the freezer.  Freeze until firm, about 1 hour.

4.  Preheat oven to 350F.  Using a cold, sharp knife, cut logs into 1/4-inch slices.  Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.***

5.  Bake cookies until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes.  Cool on wire racks.  Store at room temperature in airtight container.

*I found that the tea in the Twinings' Earl Grey bags was so fine that I didn't need to do anything to it.  I just cut the tops of of 4 bags and dumped them in.
** The dough was looking a little dry to me towards the end of the mixing, so I squeezed about 2 tablespoons (?) of juice from the orange into the dough, which I think was great.  Next time, I will add juice again and will probably increase the amount of orange zest by at least 50%.
***The original recipe calls for baking two sheets of cookies simultaneously.  I only wanted to use one at a time, so I filled one sheet and kept the remaining sliced dough in the freezer.  When the first batch was finished, I transferred the cookies to the wire rack and then put the unused dough on the same sheet.  I think it's probably better this way for even cooking.

I hope A likes them!  I think they're pretty good.  Not too sweet, good texture, interesting flavor.  Plus, they're so easy to make!  On a scale of 1-10, I give them about a 6.5.  The flavor isn't quite strong enough in my opinion (though that could be altered), but the recipe itself is inventive and the texture of the shortbread is pretty good.  Also, I'm a little concerned that there might be a not-so-great aftertaste due to the tea leaves.  I don't really notice one, but now that I've thought about it I'm a little fixated.  Anyway, I would definitely make these again for a party or a present because they are so easy and unique.  Try it sometime and let me know what you think!


obviously, I'm starting a blog.  I've thought about doing it for awhile because I have so many lovely friends all over the world that I'd like to stay better in touch with.  Sometimes I come across something that I think is great and want to share: an article, a book, music, a product, a recipe, whatever.  

this blog is named after the book A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken.  It is one of my top-5 books, and has had a profound effect on the way I view relationships, particularly my relationship with God and the way I understand His grace, love and mercy.  If you haven't read it, I strongly urge you to do so.  It is a love story, but is more an autobiography of the love than of the lovers (not my original description, unfortunately) and is not at all sappy.  Plus, the book details the Vanaukens' relationship with CS Lewis (Lewis led the author to faith in Christ) and includes 18 personal letters from Lewis to the Vanaukens.

I was reluctant to start a blog because I knew it would be so totally random.  I might want to share about day-to-day things one day, then post an article or write about a book I'm reading, then review a product, then post a recipe, etc.  Well, friends, I am random.  My interests, neuroses, and thought-processes may or may not have any kind of logical order or relationship.  And my blog posts may or may not either.

So welcome to my blog!  I'm glad you're here.  I want to share with you, read your comments, and enjoy life with you as best we can when separated by long distances.  I am thankful for you!