I’ve told you how much I love chai, right? Not that sticky-sweet powder that coffee shops put into steamed milk, or the mostly-honey-flavored-but-slightly-cinnamon-scented pre-made tetra packs in the grocery store, but the real stuff. It should be full-flavored and mostly spicy with a hint of sweetness. Sounds like the perfect Christmas cookie to me! It took me a couple of tries to hit just the right flavor, but I believe I did it. The recipes I first found were weakly flavored and looked more like a snickerdoodle than what I thought a proper chai cookie must be, so I knew I would have to ramp up the spices dramatically.
My first attempt yielded very puffy cookies with flavor that was unpronounced at best. I needed a flatter cookie with a lot more kick…and I had to get the black tea flavor in there somehow. I threw a glaze together that turned out wonderfully and provided the depth of flavor from the tea. My next attempt was also my final attempt, and that’s what I’m giving to you. I cut out an egg and nixed the baking powder, subbing cream of tartar for structure without the added puffiness contributed by the powder. In case you were wondering, baking soda is a leavening agent that requires acid to activate the reaction that creates tiny air bubbles in the food (remember the baking soda and vinegar volcano?). Baking powder is just baking soda with added acid (usually tartaric acid, which is the same acid cream of tartar is based from), but baking powder usually contains additional acids that are activated when heated in the oven.
Oh sorry, back to the recipe. Where was I? Oh yes, and I doubled the spices. Again. Unfortunately I had forgotten to write down the ingredient proportions in the glaze, but I learned that it’s all about taste (just like when you make chai, of course), so just be sure to taste as you go. This cookie is my new favorite Christmas cookie! Packed with flavor that lingers after your final bite, these are addicting and are just begging to be served with a cup of tea by the fireplace.
Makes 3 dozen
1/2 cup butter
¾ cup oil
1 ½ cup sugar
3 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp cream of tartar
¼ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cardamom
½ tsp ground anise
2 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp cloves
½ tsp nutmeg
Sugar for sprinkling
1 cup milk
2 black tea bags
1 cup powdered sugar
¼ cup honey
½ tsp each: cinnamon,ginger, cloves
Pinch of freshly ground pepper
Preheat the oven to 400⁰F
Cream the butter, oil and sugar together. Add the eggs one at a time.
Mix in the flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, salt and spices. Mix just until combined.
Roll into balls, sprinkle with sugar.
Bake on an ungreased baking sheet for 8-10 minutes.
Warm the milk; steep tea bags in the milk for 5 minutes.
Combine remaining ingredients and allow the mixture to simmer for about 10 minutes or until reduced by half.
Refrigerate the icing until it has cooled completely and is thick. Drizzle over cooled cookies.
Eat them or give them away! Enjoy!