Sunday, January 9, 2011

Earl Grey Tea Cookies (aka The Cutest Cookies in the World!)

I am quite possibly obsessed with tea.  Whether it's hot or iced, it rocks my world.  Last summer, I hosted a "Tea Week" and contest on Mission: Food, sharing lots of fun information on tea all week long and inviting others to join in the fun :)  The contest entailed readers using tea in their cooking, and the dishes ranged from savory to sweet, with a great variety of recipes!  I had made these Earl Grey tea cookies in the past, and had simply made round cookies like the recipe originally specified.  Last summer I purchased an adorable 3 1/2-inch teapot-shaped cookie cutter from Sur La Table.  I thought it would be perfect for adapting the original recipe into a roll-out-and-cut-out type of cookie, instead of freezing logs of dough and cutting rounds.  I also thought it would be perfect to serve these cookies at a tea party!  These will definitely be on the menu for any tea party I eventually have :)  They really are the cutest cookies in the world!  You can have your tea and eat it too!

And not only are they so much fun to look at, but they are delicious to eat!  They are crumbly and buttery like a shortbread cookie should be, with a lovely orange-infused flavor both from the Bergamot orange flavor in the Earl Grey tea and the additional orange zest.  I used the Extra Bergamot English Earl Grey loose tea leaves from Upton Teas, and used a spice grinder to grind it.  I think it works better than a small food processor would, but if your small food processor is very powerful and has a sharp enough blade it would probably work too.  You could also use Earl Grey tea from 4 tea bags, which would already be a finer powder than loose tea leaves, but won't be as flavorful as the good stuff which retains its flavor better and is generally fresher than bagged tea :)

Earl Grey Tea Cookies
Makes about 4 dozen
(Adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies)

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling dough
2 T. finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (a spice grinder works best)
1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 T. finely grated orange zest

Whisk together flour, tea, and salt in a bowl.

Put butter, confectioners' 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 the speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and flatten it so the dough chills evenly. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours until the dough is firm and easy to roll out.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly flour a cutting board and rolling pin and carefully roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thick (use as much flour as needed so the dough does not stick to the rolling pin or board). If the dough becomes warmer, it will get soft and be difficult to roll (it will tear easily), so be careful and make sure it is well-chilled when you roll it. Use a small teapot-shaped cookie cutter (or another favorite cookie cutter) to cut out shapes in the dough. Place the cookie cutouts on parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps, chill them if they are soft, and then roll out the remaining dough and cut out more cookies until all of the dough is utilized.

Bake the cookies, rotating sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until the 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.


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