Sometime in the past few days I decided that I was going to try Earl Grey Shortbread cookies. So Saturday I looked up all sorts of recipes and went for it. I made a half batch that night and another half batch on Sunday.
The first batch was a classic shortbread cookie recipe with a ground up bag of earl grey tea, ground up lavender, and some fresh lemon zest. The lemon was too strong a flavor against the tea, so I knew it had to be omitted. I chose to use cake flour instead of regular all purpose flour because some of the recipes I looked at used flour and cornstarch. Since cake flour substitutes are flour and cornstarch I figured it would work. The cookies had a very fine texture and melted in your mouth instead of having a crumbly texture. Plus, one ground up bag of tea was not enough to give the cookies a good flavor. They did however smell wonderful.
Second time around I knew I needed more ways to infuse the earl grey tea. The first way I did this was by steeping the butter. The recipe uses softened butter, but for this recipe I melted it, put a tea bag in it and let it steep before taking the tea bag out. I wasn’t really sure if this step would make a difference until I saw dark grey butter come from the tea bag. That grey swirl is earl grey goodness oozing into the butter. At least I think so.
The next way I infused the flavor into the cookies was by making an earl grey reduction. I took our smallest saucepan and made the smallest, strongest amount of tea I have ever seen. Then I boiled it until there was hardly enough to cover the the bottom of the pan.
I do not really know which of these two additions of earl grey actually made a taste difference in the second batch. Maybe I will make these cookies again to figure out.
Ideally the tea and and lavender would be ground up in a coffee grinder or mortar and pistil. But since I have neither, I opted for much more difficult ways. The first time I used the side of a knife, which worked but not as well as grinding them between my fingers and using a spoon and cutting board.
The butter is creamed with powdered sugar and reduction, and then the is tea added. The flour, sugar, and salt are then added.
I mixed with a hand held mixer as much as I could, and it was a crumbly bowl of deliciousness.
I poured the dough out onto a floured countertop and kneaded it into a single mass.
Rolled it out and cut my circles.
Since I decided to make button cookies, I made an impression on the circles with a smaller cookies cutter and cut the holes of the buttons with a straw. I also wanted to finally try making cookies in the shape of a tea bag. I figured a cookie that is supposed to taste like a tea would be the perfect time to finally go for it!
Voila! Buttery, crumbly earl grey cookies. If you make some, let me know.
Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Makes 40 small cookies.
1 cup butter
5 earl grey tea bags
2 tablespoons boiling water
Pinch of lavender
2 cups flour (plus extra for kneading)*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
*For a fine shortbread that melts in your mouth use 2 1/3 cups cake flour
Preheat oven to 350° and line 2 baking sheets with parchment.
1. Melt butter and put 2 tea bags in it. When butter starts to cool remove tea bags and squeeze out any excess butter they have absorbed. Put butter in fridge to finish cooling, mixing occasionally. Remove from fridge when butter is soft.
2. In smallest saucepan you have, steep tea bag in water. After 5 minutes, remove tea bag and boil tea over low heat for a few minutes until reduced to about 2 teaspoons.
3. Grind up contents of remaining tea bag and lavender with spice/coffee grinder, mortar and pistil, or by crushing the leaves with a spoon on a cutting board.
4. Cream butter with powdered sugar and add 1/2 teaspoon of tea reduction and ground tea. Add flours, sugar, and salt and mix until crumbly.
5. Turn out dough onto lightly floured surface and knead into one mass of dough. Roll 1/4″-3/16″ thick and cut out desired shape.
6. Bake for 8-11 minutes until all edges are about to be slightly browned.
These are best cooled.