Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Vanilla-Chai Icebox Shortbread Cookies...

Wednesday has become our day of choice for Treat Day, but this week we had to shift it around a bit, moving it up to today as Jeff is going to be working from home tomorrow. However, this meant I had to get into gear yesterday to make sure I had enough time to get these Vanilla-Chai Icebox Shortbread Cookies baked! That's also why I didn't get our dinner posted yesterday... too busy with cookies!

The dough begins with butter and granulated sugar, which would be expected, but we also poured a touch of golden honey into the mix for a kiss of extra sweetness and warmth. To get a full-bodied range of flavors packed in, these intensely-spiced cookies are peppered with pumpkin pie spice, ginger and allspice, along with an exotic note from a small spoonful of cardamom. You can use prepared pumpkin pie spice if you already have a jar, but you don't need to run out to buy some if you have a stocked spice pantry - I usually just blend together cinnamon, fresh grated nutmeg, ginger and clove. As far as how much of each, the ratio that I've fallen for most is using half as much ginger as cinnamon, then a quarter as much of the nutmeg and clove.

As if that wasn't enough, a full vanilla bean was ravaged, taking its thousands of aromatic seeds and adding them in for an almost audible floral background that lingered on the tongue. When the dough is completely combined, it should be on the softer side, but should not be very sticky - if you touch the dough, your finger should come away clean. Split in two, the dough is then shaped, wrapped and stashed into the refrigerator to firm it up enough to slice into tidy rectangles.

You don't have to make the cookies rectangles by the way; roll the dough up into a log for round buttons or shape the log into a square for a boxy treat. If you do go for the round route, here's a tip we've given out before to help the dough keep its cylindrical shape - when you have the dough wrapped up, cut a slit down the middle of a paper towel tube and slip the dough inside. The sturdiness of the tube will give the dough just enough structure to stay round and not flatten out.

Because they are on the smaller side, I was able to fit 20 cookies comfortably on a regular half sheet pan to bake, making the time it took to bake them not nearly as long as I thought. They do spread a tad as they bake, but as long as you give them roughly 1/2" between, the cookies will be fine. Baked until each vanilla-studded cookie was lightly golden around their edges, we made sure they had time enough to cool before we added one final touch.

While the cookies stand on their own taste wise, they do look a little plain and ordinary - to give them a leg up in the looks department, a snazzy drizzle made from confectioners' sugar, vanilla and a splash of milk was lazily drawn over each. And for just another bit of extravagance, I did scrape a half of another vanilla bean and whisked the seeds in. Jeff and I both loved the texture of the cookies - crisp, yet tender, with a slight crumbliness that had us reaching for cookie after cookie (and thankfully it made plenty to go around!).


  1. Oh no, can't you see I'm on a diet?! These look amazing!

  2. OH my I'm on a diet as well and ahhhhh these look so yummy!!!

  3. The lazy drizzle made the cookies so perfect, I can only imagine how good they tasted! Hope you guys are enjoying NC!

  4. The flavor of these sounds wonderful!

    BTW, a friend asked me for a good pizza crust recipe today, and I passed yours along to her--it is great!


  5. SSS and Maggie - Maybe the diet could take a break for one afternoon? ;-)

    Ana - So far so good!

    Courtney - Awesome! Thank you!

  6. Ah my mouth is watering!! :) SO much vanilla :)