Shortbread has always been one of my favourite kind of cookies. My grandma's shortbread that we all fight over, to be specific. I think I was probably initimidated by making shortbread for this reason. How could I possibly make shortbread good enough to compare?
A couple of Christmases ago, I tried this earl grey cookie recipe for the first time, not realizing it was basically a shortbread cookie (good thing!) It was such a perfect little cookie that I knew I'd be making it again, though it did take me a year and a half. My coworker was leaving, and I had always talked about these earl grey cookies, so I had to make her some before she was gone. I decided to split the batter in two and do half a batch of earl grey orange cookies and the other half matcha. Not too long ago I attempted another matcha shortbread recipe but wasn't happy with the results, so I was hoping to have more luck here. They did taste okay but weren't as good as the earl grey cookies, and the matcha dough was extremely crumbly. So crumbly that I had trouble cutting off pieces from the log to bake them (and I didn't have this problem with the earl grey portion). You can see on the matcha cookies the pieces that broke off as I was slicing the dough. It's possible I just don't like matcha shortbread, but I don't want to believe that so I'll keep trying!
Anyway, the earl grey cookies were just as good as I had remembered. Strong earl grey (bergamot) flavour, hint of orange (using orange zest), and a wonderfully delicate shortbread texture. The only problem I have with these cookies is rolling the dough into two logs. I seem to find it impossible to make the roll cylindrical and instead it's some lopsided mishapen thing that resembles something between a circle and a square. But that gives the cookies more character, right?
Earl Grey Tea Cookies
(Adapted from the special issue Martha Stewart Holiday Cookies 2005)
makes about 8 dozen supposedly, but I found it to make a few dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)*
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest
1. In a small bowl, whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl.
2. Put butter, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.
3. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Freeze until firm, about an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.
5. Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through,until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature up to 5 days.
*You can grind the tea leaves in a small food processor, spice grinder, blender, or do as I did and use a magic bullet!
**Or just lay them carefully in your freezer on something long and flat.
Note: To make matcha shortbread, substitute matcha powder for Earl Grey tea and omit orange zest.