Sometimes I make a recipe and like it enough to post it, but then, when I go to make it again, I am disappointed. I feel that way about a few recipes on this site and will be posting better alternatives as we move into 2017.
One that I am out to fix? My Whipped Shortbread Snowballs. They are super buttery and delicious as written, but they are also incredibly fragile. So fragile that coating them in confectioner’s sugar is near impossible. Forget about stacking them in a container or putting them on a cookie tray–they’ll all break. There’s nothing wrong with delicate cookies (I love these Apple Cider Snaps), but I don’t want to make cookies that fall apart the second I go to eat one.
So, how am I going to fix that recipe? Like I do most cookies: I’ll add cornstarch. I love cornstarch. It keeps chewy cookies soft, gives my cakes a tender crumb, and it makes my Chocolate Cream Pie nice and sliceable. Here, it adds just enough structure to these cookies to keep them from crumbling without fundamentally altering the crispy, melty texture. Cornstarch is magic, I tell you. If you want to make a better, sturdier version of my Whipped Shortbread Snowballs, add 1/4 cup of cornstarch when you add the confectioner’s sugar, then follow the recipe as written. Voilà! They’ll still melt in your mouth, but they won’t crumble all over your floors.
I could leave it at that, basically posting the same recipe twice in a year, but that’s not really my style. Today’s shortbread take that classic recipe and turn it up a bit with the addition of chai. Black tea leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and black pepper (yes, black pepper!) are blitzed into the flour before its mixed with the whipped butter, confectioner’s sugar, and cornstarch. The resulting cookies have all the flavors of your favorite chai tea latte. Coat them in more confectioner’s sugar for that signature holiday cookie look and watch them disappear at your next holiday party!
Chai Shortbread Snowballs
makes about 2 dozen cookies
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon black tea leaves (I use PG Tips)
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teaspoons ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
Preheat oven to 275F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.
In a food processor, combine flour, tea leaves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, black pepper, and salt. Process about 15-20 seconds, until tea leaves are broken down. Set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer for 1 minute, until light and fluffy. Add confectioner’s sugar and cornstarch, and mix for 1 minute. Turn mixer to high and beat for 6 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Mix in vanilla. Beat in flour mixture in two installments.
Scoop dough in 2 tablespoon increments and place them at least 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake 14 minutes before rotating pans from top to bottom racks. Bake an additional 12-14 minutes.
Let cookies cool on pans for 5 minutes. Place confectioner’s sugar in a small-medium mixing bowl. Gently coat each cookie in confectioner’s sugar before placing it on a rack to cool completely.
Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.