Chai Cookies

It can be hard to find a good cup of chai — the stuff you buy at the coffee shop on the corner just isn’t the real thing.

Not that I’m saying a chai latte can’t be sweet and good and satisfying on a cold day, but sometimes I want strong chai, spicy chai, chai that punches my sinuses with spice and burns the back of my throat a little!

Lucky for me, there’s a great Indian food place down the street that sells the kind of chai I love. Unlucky for me, it’s a little over $4 for a tiny cup… Oh, well — can’t win ’em all.

Anyways, these cute cookies are mildly spiced and crumbly, without being overly sweet. No sinus punching or throat burning going on here, I promise.

But a chai cookie addiction? I can’t promise you won’t develop that.

chaibickies01

Turns out that there’s actually no one “true” recipe for chai. It’s kind of like how everyone has their own way of making chocolate chip cookies, only this applies to tea. Masala chai has a couple common ingredients: cinnamon, cardamom, clove, milk, water, etc., but the rest is however you’d like it.

This is why when searched online for a recipe for chai cookies or biscuits, I pretty much came up with nothing.

Instead, I just sipped on chai and studied a couple tea recipes that seemed like they’d be palate-pleasing before making my own spice mix.

The result: addictive little cookies that taste like chai!

Chai Cookies

*original recipe by Christine

Ingredients

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 & 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground all spice
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground fennel
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • pinch of salt

Directions

Note: The key to this recipe is having all your spices very finely crushed or ground. It’s easy to buy most of these spices pre-ground, but you’ll probably have to crush your own fennel seed. First I used a mortar and pestle to crush the seed, then used a fine metal strainer to separate the larger chunks of fennel from the smaller ones, and used the smallest ground fennel for these cookies.

If you’re like me and you love chai, then feel free to double the amount of spice in this recipe — that’s what I’m going to do next time!

In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Beat in egg and extract.

Sift your flour, salt, and spices together. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, mixing until just incorporated.

Roll the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

After an hour preheat your oven to 350ยฐF (or 175ยฐC).

On a generously floured surface, roll out the chilled chai dough to half a centimeter thick — I think that’s about 1/4th of an inch. Use a cookie cutter to press shapes out of the dough. Re-roll the scraps as needed.

Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 10 ~ 12 minutes, or until the bottom edges of the cookies start to go brown.

I made tiny star-shaped chai cookies, packaged them in clear plastic baggies, and gave them out to friends. They made awesome little gifts!

Enjoy the ones that you don’t share with a mug of warm milk or herbal tea! Yum!

UPDATE: Legal drinking age? Need more chai?

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15 thoughts on “Chai Cookies

  1. Brandon says:

    This is truly nuanced culinary art! So I have a question. Can I make a gluten-free version of this? The reason I ask is that my mother has a gluten allergy, but she loves a hot, refreshing cup of tea as well as tea-based things. Gluten is the gooey crap in most processed American food that lines your intestinal tract and coats the cilia which are supposed to absorb nutrients from things like vegetables.

    • Christine says:

      Hmmm… There are a lot of different flours out there, many of which do not contain any wheat or gluten. For this recipe I’d recommend chickpea flour, since I’m told it’s “beany” taste disappears with baking (although I don’t know if that’s true or not). Even if the beany taste doesn’t disappear completely, chickpeas, as an addition to lots of Indian foods, have a flavour that would probably go pretty well with chai spices.

  2. Alicia Juillet says:

    Try Trader Joe’s Spiced Rooibo’s Ruby Red Chai Tea, it’s really great ๐Ÿ™‚

    Also, I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  3. Nyteflame says:

    I would love to try this…Once I manage to have a working oven again I definitely am going to give it a try. Meanwhile, as foot-notes to your recipe: If you are cooking/baking with spices regularly, it is worth while to buy a coffee grinder to grind your own spices. They don’t cost much…no more then $15, and they let you choose between a super fine (espresso grind) to a fairly course grinds as your recipe demands.
    The only spice that i can think of that you can’t grind on your own is nutmeg, and you can still use it by grating it with a microplaner (freshly grated tastes so much better)

  4. Tabitha says:

    Could you make these cookies with tea leaves?

    • Christine says:

      I think you could!

      I think that the best way would be to chop or grind the tea leaves up very finely, then to beat them into the softened butter. I’d let the butter and tea leaves stand for an hour, beating again every so often, then follow the recipe as usual. ๐Ÿ™‚

  5. Molly says:

    Made ’em.
    Didn’t have a cardamom or fennel, but I supplemented with three ripped open teabags of ground chai.
    Oh, and practically tripled all the spices. ๐Ÿ™‚

    So delicious! I bake often, but I’m more of a savory person, so I love how they weren’t overly sweet.

    • Christine says:

      Ooh, glad you liked ’em, Molly. ๐Ÿ˜€

      I think that a lot of people get put off sweet baked goods, like cookies and cakes and pies, because usually they’re store-bought and waaay too sweet. Mass-produced baked goods are usually loaded with sugar to make them last longer, since they’re designed to sit on a shelf for days or weeks!

  6. Sandy says:

    This looks awesome! Ever since Celestial Seasonings stopped making their Chocolate Caramel Enchantment Chai, I’ve been trying to search for another chai tea to replace it but haven’t found a good replica yet. The ingredients you listed for the chai cookies are very similar to what was in my favorite chai so I will have to try these when it gets colder (I don’t bake in the summer due to an inefficient oven and not so great ventilation in the old Victorian house I live in).

    • Christine says:

      Ooh… chocolate and chai! I used to work at a coffee house in California that served a chocolate-chai frappuccino-type drink, but I wonder how these cookies would taste with a little cocoa in em?

      Also, I feel your problem! In the summer, if I don’t keep my window wide open while I bake, then I turn my whole tiny shoebox apartment into an oven. >_<

  7. These cookies look good. but I read the recipe twice looking for the black tea, a major part of chai (which means “tea”). I saw the post about crushed tea leaves, but I think the way to go is to infuse the butter with tea leaves and strain them out, or possibly to add a tablespoon of tea with the egg — I’ll get back to you on what works. They look like a perfect fall and winter cookie. — Sharyn

  8. Rach says:

    I love Chai everything but I’ve never even heard of chai cookies. Super excited to try them out soon.

    You should try make your own chai tea sometime, its super delicious, and wont be as expensive! i wrote a blog post about making home made chai tea ๐Ÿ™‚

    Check it out: http://hellotherecapetown.blogspot.com/2012/06/thursday-thirst-day.html

    ๐Ÿ™‚ xxx

  9. Hi Christine,

    Thank you for spreading the chai love! ๐Ÿ™‚

    We just wanted to point out that our Drink Me Chai powder is perfect for baking cookies, muffins, breads etc. and it means you can just add the authentic-tasting chai powder, rather than putting in individual spices.

    It makes your recipe simpler and quicker!!

    Drink Me Chai is gluten free, Vegetarian Society approved, Halal certified, and is also 99% caffeine free. So good for you too as well as being a delicious taste!

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