chai spice shortbread

Having mentioned previously my adoration of chai and its thermal abilities on cold days, these cookies are the perfect antidote for a chilly afternoon.

Beautiful, pale, with a crisp, golden edge, dotted with flecks of spicy pepper; infused with the sweet aroma of cardamom, cinnamon, and cloves. These are the perfect late fall cookie, with the intense fragrance of fellow winter spices like ginger and nutmeg, but not at all overpowering the delicate butteriness of the shortbread. They’re a classic icebox cookie, rolled out into a log and chilled to firmness, then it’s as easy and slice and bake.

Well, that is everything that they should be. But I’m embarrassed to say for all my build-up of such a perfect cookie, I have a mortifying confession–I slightly over-baked my first batch, gone from nearly-there-thirty-more-seconds to two-minutes-later-and-as-close-to-burnt-yet-still-edible.   But even with some very, very crispy cookies, my friend who came over Saturday for dinner and a movie made me feel somewhat less of a failed baker, finding it in her heart to praise the cookies for their “enhanced flavor and texture.” You definitely know a good friend when you find one, someone who waves away your protestations of inadequacy and devours five cookies without a glance at their brown-bordering-burnt-umber edges. 

May you have all the blessings of a sufficient attention span to bestow on your perfectly golden cookies! Happy mid-November :)

Chai Spice Shortbread Cookies

1 1/2 Cups flour
1/8 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cardamom
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dash of ground nutmeg
3/4 Cup powdered sugar
10 Tbsp butter, softened
1 Tbsp ice water


Combine flour, salt and spices in a small bowl and stir with a whisk. In a medium mixing bowl, cream butter and powdered sugar with a spatula until light and fluffy. Gradually add in flour mixture to butter mixture, stirring after each addition until just combined. Sprinkle dough with 1 Tbsp ice water, toss with fork. With hands, gently form dough into a coherent ball, then divide in half and shape into two six-inch long logs. Wrap in plastic-wrap, stick inside a paper towel tube to hold shape, and place in the fridge to chill for 1 hour or overnight.


Preheat oven to 190˚ C/375˚ F. Cut logs into 18 slices each, and place two inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Bake for 9-10 minutes, with a careful eye, and cool on a wire rack. Makes three dozen.

6 thoughts on “chai spice shortbread

  1. You make me so hungry when I read your posts first thing in the morning! And the pictures are also outstanding – I like to know what I am striving for! Keep up the good work.

  2. I think you left a log of these in the freezer. .. . I’m tempted to do some slicing and baking! Or, maybe I’ll wait until you get home. :-)

  3. Just found your blog via Smitten Kitchen–I’m an English teacher living in Beijing! I’m loving the few posts I’ve perused. I can totally relate to the baking foibles in the toaster “oven,” and it’s fun to see some of the similarities in culture (like the bean pastries.) I’ve lived in China for a bit over a year and I’m really wanting to visit Japan. I will continue reading your blog for insights and inspiration for when I visit!

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