This recipe appeared in a story in our 2016 Holiday Baking section: “Not the Usual Treats to Bake and Share,” by Durham food writer Matt Lardie. He wrote: A good shortbread cookie is a baker’s secret weapon – chock full of butter and sugar, and so easy to make, they are devoured by old and young alike. The dough comes together in seconds and keeps well in the freezer, making for an easy do-ahead holiday treat. The addition of chai tea adds a little Eastern earthiness to the cookies that will leave your guests wondering what your secret is as they grab second or third helpings.
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated white sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 bags Chai Spice tea, such as Stash brand
Maldon sea salt flakes
In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl, using a hand-held mixer) cream together the butter, sugar and vanilla until light and fluffy.
Working in two batches, mix in the flour until fully incorporated. Cut open the two bags of tea, add the tea to the dough, and mix until just incorporated.
Dump the dough onto parchment paper, divide in half and roll each half into a log about 1-1/2 inches in diameter. Dust with flour if needed. Wrap in parchment paper and freeze for 30 minutes.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
After 30 minutes, remove one of the dough logs, unwrap and place on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut the the log into rounds about 1/3- inch thick. Place the rounds on an ungreased cookie sheet and lightly sprinkle each round with some of the salt.
Bake the cookies for 15 to 17 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, until the edges are barely golden. Remove the cookies and let them cool slightly on the pan before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with remaining dough logs. Serve cookies immediately, keep in an airtight container for up to one week, or package for gifts.
For gift giving, these cookies are best given as gifts in a tin or box. They’ll ship well if wrapped in parchment and secured inside a box or tin, with a little extra crumpled parchment for padding.
Yield: about 48 cookies