Monday, December 09, 2019

Short and Sweet: Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cutout Cookies

Every year, I like to make a lightly-spiced shortbread cookie, cut into seasonal shapes for holiday gifting—and eating! In previous years, I've used cinnamon, cardamom, or ground ginger for the main flavoring. This year, I decided to make a thoroughly warming, comforting, chai-spiced version. These cookies are rich, delicious, and will last several weeks stored in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. Sprinkling the tops of the cookies with a little granulated sugar before baking allows them to twinkle in the light, and provides a little burst of crunch and sweetness as well. These are perfect for the holidays, or any day when you need a special treat!

Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cutout Cookies

Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cutout Cookies

1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons chai spice mix (or see notes below)
2 Tablespoons (or so) granulated sugar, for sprinkling (optional)

In a small bowl, stir together flour, salt, and chai spice mix. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in vanilla, then blend in flour mixture until smooth. Divide dough in two and wrap each half tightly in plastic wrap, flattening into discs as you go. Chill dough for several hours, or overnight.

When ready to make cookies, remove one disc of dough from the fridge about 30 minutes beforehand, line baking sheets with foil or parchment paper, and preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Unwrap and roll dough out on a lightly floured surface with a rolling pin (lightly flour the rolling pin and the dough as well). Roll out evenly to about 1/8" thick, then cut using shapes of your choice with cookie cutters dipped in flour. Transfer cutouts onto prepared sheets an inch or so apart, and sprinkle lightly with granulated sugar, if using. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are lightly golden around the edges (cookies will puff up during baking, but settle back down when close to being done). Re-roll scraps, flouring as needed, and keep cutting shapes until the dough is completely used. Repeat with the other disc of dough.

Chai-Spiced Shortbread Cutout Cookies

Notes: This recipe will yield about 4 dozen cookies when using two-inch cutters. If you don't like chai spice, use whatever spice mix you enjoy, like pumpkin or apple pie spice. Before starting, I like to scoop out some plain flour into a small dish for my "bench" flour, sprinkling where needed and for dusting the cookie cutters. I don't have a pastry board or any other special equipment, so I simply roll my dough out on a piece of wax or parchment paper. This actually makes it very easy to rotate the dough when rolling to achieve an even thickness!


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