Lavender Chai Shortbread, a buttery, crumbly, melt-in-your-mouth wedge of goodness, all dressed up for the holiday season with icing and sprinkles, and with the lovely flavor of a lavender chai tea.
Song of the day: "Tomorrow" - Mavis Staples
Sometimes things just won't go your way
But don't you worry when the sky turns grey
Tomorrow is another day - [Tomorrow, a song by Mavis Staple]
Don't you ever feel like you have a song that is the theme of the moment you're living? The one I chose for today's post is a perfect example. Things were not going my way, definitely, and I was getting stressed, anxious and a bit depressed. But then I heard this song, and a smile came to my face: "...You'll get through it, come what may, Tomorrow is another day".
I am a planner. And although during the years life has taught me that things don't go necessarily as planned, I still like to believe that if I aim for organization, order, and discipline, life will get a little less messy. A calendar and an agenda are my best friends, paper ones, for that matters. I'm an old soul, nothing can replace the smell, sound, and feel when you flip through paper pages. Like reading a "real" book, still my favorite pastime.
Of course, for the month of December, I had so many things planned on my agenda: baking/cooking to do, Christmas shopping to tackle, outdoor activities since the weather was unusually warm and sunny, indoor/outdoor decorating, friends to see, quality time to spend with my husband before I leave for Rome and come back in 4, yes, you read that correctly, 4 months!
But life, disguised as the flu, decided that there wasn't really much I could do, other than laying sluggishly on the couch, feeling run over by a truck, coughing, blowing my nose, and leaving a trace of kleenexes in the house. Oh, and flipping through the pages of the calendar, canceling, re-planning, re-assigning, re-organizing for a better time.
Good for me, I had done a lot of the baking before I got sick, like this beautiful, delicious and perfect for the holidays: Lavender Chai Shortbread.
It is curious for somebody that is not the biggest fan of butter, to like shortbread pastry so much. I guess there are exceptions to the rule. I just love the crumbliness, the melt in your mouth texture, that soft, powdery look.
This buttery shortbread dough has white rice flour in addition to the all-purpose flour. I followed Dorie Greenspan's recipe for shortbread, and that made a huge difference. Plus, the lavender chai tea added the right amount of freshness, spice, and interest to the cookie. The cute tin box of Cochin Masala Lavender Chai was bought in Salt Spring Island at the Sacred Mountain Lavender Farm. It is a beautifully spiced tea, with notes of ginger, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, and pepper, blended with their organically-grown lavender. When we were there visiting the farm, last April, the lavender was still dormant, the season was a little behind they told us, but in the air you could still smell the unmistakable, peaceful, scent of lavender.
The dough comes together fast, then it's all a matter of pressing it down into the pan, forming the lines of the wedges by pricking the dough with a fork, and "crimping" the edges, again the fork the tool of choice.
I found it really helpful to use a cake pan with a removable bottom since the dough is very delicate and you want to handle it with care.
As for the decoration, I am not a fan of icing, so I left a quarter of the cookie simple. The other half is iced with a mix of icing sugar and milk and dusted with festive sprinkles. You let your creativity run free and decorate as much as your heart desires.
The first thing that you realize is how this shortbread crumbles into your mouth, melting and releasing that buttery, nutty, elegant flavor that shortbread is known for. To take it to even higher level the lavender chai ever so subtly graces the flavor of these wedges with an Indian spiced flair. For those who chose the iced wedges, the sweetness offers a nice diversity to the base flavors and as I watched closely I could see people's childlike nature come through in their smiles and the brightness of their eyes.
Christmas is always associated with shortbread cookies, change things up a little bit, this year, and serve your guests and family these wonderful Lavender Chai Shortbread wedges.
Happy Holidays! Buone Feste!
Song of the day: "Tomorrow" - Mavis StaplesPrint
- ¾ cup (102 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- ½ cup (85 g) white rice flour
- ⅓ cup (67 g) raw cane sugar
- 2 tsp lavender chai tea leaves
- 1 stick (8 Tbsp, 113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
For the icing (optional)
- ½ cup (60 g) icing sugar (confectioner's sugar), sifted
- 1 to 2 tablespoon milk
- Preheat the oven to 350° F (180° C) and center a rack in the oven. Butter an 8-inch round cake pan, possibly with a removable bottom, dust with flour and shake off any excess. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk both flours together.
- In a small bowl, toss the sugar and lavender chai tea leaves, rubbing them with your fingertips until fragrant.
- Toss the sugar/tea mixture in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the paddle attachment, add the butter at room temperature, the salt, and start beating on medium speed until smooth, about 2 minutes, then beat in the vanilla.
- Turn off the mixer, add the flour all at once, and mix on low speed for 3-4 minutes, or until you have a bowl of soft crumbs. Do not overmix.
- Turn the crumbs into the prepared cake pan and pat them down evenly. You can use the bottom of a glass, but do not press too hard.
- With the tins of a fork prick lines of holes in the dough to create about 10-12 wedges (according to how big or small you want to make them), making sure you press enough to reach the bottom of the pan. Then use your fork horizontally around the edges as you were crimping a pie crust.
- Bake the shortbread for about 25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through, or until the edges are golden brown and the top feels firm to the touch, but still pale in color.
- Transfer the pan to a rack and let cool for 5 minutes before unmolding.
- Place the shortbread on a cutting board, prick the holes with a fork again, then cut along the pricked lines with a long sturdy knife.
To make the icing:
- Sift the icing (confectioner's sugar) in a small bowl, add 1 tablespoon of milk and stir to blend. If too thick, add more milk, a little at a time.
- Spread the icing on each shortbread wedge, using a brush, a small icing spatula, or a teaspoon, leaving a border without icing.
- Dust with sprinkles, or any other decoration you like.
- Let the icing set, and serve.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: Cookies
- Method: Baking
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I love baking and kneading dough because it takes me to a happy place in my soul.