Monday, August 08, 2011

Tea for Two is Sweeter with Earl Grey Scented Shotbread Cookies {recipe}


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I love having girlfriends over to chat it up over a little something to nosh. And sometimes, when that little something is a little sweet, all the better! These earl grey shortbread cookies are light and crumbly with just a hint of the earl grey flavor and are ever-so-slightly sweet.

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Shortbread is one of my favorites. It’s a super basic, easy dough that is great all by itself but also serves as an awesome base for add-ins such as these earl grey tea leaves but also lavender buds, mini chocolate chips, crushed nuts or half dipped in chocolate (aka, Royal Shortbread). This particular recipe is lighter and more delicate than the classic 1-2-3 version (one part sugar-two parts butter-three parts flour) due to the addition of the cornstarch.

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I wrote about my attempts at perfecting my shortbread over at Tree.com for a post I did on lavender shortbread. Now with my basic dough figured out, I can experiment with various add-ins to my hearts content.

Ready? Let's bake!

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Cream powdered sugar and room temperature butter. Add vanilla.

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Is a separate bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch and a dash of salt.

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Add a third of the flour to the butter mixture.

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Carefully fold to combine. Repeat with the second third of flour.

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Earl grey is hands down my favorite tea. I've been out of loose leaf for a while and due to finances, found this alternative bagged tea from Fresh & Easy. Considering the difference in price from what I used to use, I was pleasantly surprised the first time I made it at how tasty it is. For my shortbread, I cut a bag of it open and it gave me just shy of 2 teaspoons.

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Add the last third of the flour to the dough bowl and the earl grey tea leaves. Carefully fold until all is combined.

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Turn out the dough onto a piece of plastic cling wrap. Form it into a ball then pat it down to about a 1/2" thick disk. Completely wrap the dough with the cling wrap. Pre-flattening the dough saves you from spending too much time rolling out the chilled dough. This ensures the dough has less time to come up to room temperature before baking. Place the disk into the fridge and allow it to chill for 30 minutes.

Pre-heat oven to 300˚F.

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Working with a quarter or half of the dough at a time, roll it out on a lightly floured board using just enough flour to keep it from sticking. Too much flour will toughen the dough so be a bit stingy here. I use a 3 inch scalloped edge biscuit cutter to cut out my dough after rolling it out to about 1/4" thick. Combine the scraps from each roll/cut stage, flatten it out, wrap it in the cling wrap and place it back in the fridge while this first batch is baking.

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Place the cut out cookies 1/4"or so apart onto a sheet pan lined either with parchment paper or a silicone cookie pad. Bake for 18-20 minutes just until the cookie is set and just starting to get lightly golden around the edges, but not browned. It's such a tragedy to over-bake shortbread so keep an eye on it and start checking at about 16 minutes. Allow to cool at least 10 minutes before serving.



Some tips for success:
  • Use the best unsweetened butter you can afford. The butter, is after all, the main flavor in shortbread.
  • Don’t add too much extra flour when forming ball or rolling. Use minimum needed to keep dough from sticking. Adding too much flour at this stage can result in a tough dough.
  • Work quickly to keep butter from warming up to room temperature.
  • To ensure that cookie won’t “spread” while baking, after cutting out cookies and placing on cookie sheet, put cookie sheet into refrigerator for 5 minutes to add back some chill.
  • Unless your cookie sheets can fit on one rack, bake only one sheet at a time to ensure cookies bake evenly.
Until next time!
Ani

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