I say that we baked, but that's not exactly how it went. Mostly we sat around talking and drinking tea...okay, they sat at the bar drinking tea while I baked sausage rolls--a favorite of my husband's that are tricky to get outside of the UK--and cookies. This is not a complaint, I just really like to feed people. So we talked and drank tea and it was just like a cooking a show starring yours truly, except that I was wearing pajamas and my hair is a mess. Nigella, I am not. Still, the sausage rolls came out great and I managed to modify the classic gingerbread cookie recipe to something even better: Chai Spice Gingerbread.
These cookies were amazing. We had a few with hot apple cider and forgot that it was raining outside. I'm pretty sure this was the most comforting comfort food I've ever had. The calming effects were immediate and dramatic--even though the tea adds a little caffeine to these cookies, we were all ready for naps. Better than NyQuil!
These cookies are just the thing to spice up a dreary autumn afternoon, and would work well as Christmas cookies, too. Adjust the spices to your taste and enjoy!
1 cup all-purpose white flour
2 cups all-purpose whole wheat flour
1 1⁄2 teaspoons baking powder
3⁄4 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon ground ginger
1 3⁄4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1⁄4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 Chai tea bag (I use Twining's Ultra Spice)
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
3⁄4 cup brown sugar
1⁄2 cup molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla
1. In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and tea.
2. In a large bowl, beat butter, brown sugar, and egg. Add molasses and vanilla and continue to mix until blended.
3. Gradually stir in dry ingredients until well-mixed and smooth. I used a spoon for this and ended up having to do a lot of it with my hands. The mixture is fairly dry and too thick for a hand mixer!
4. Cover dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
5. After dough has been refrigerated for an hour, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Put half the dough on a clean, floured surface and roll out with a lightly floured rolling pin to desired thickness. Thin cookies will be crispier, while thicker cookies will be soft.
7. Use cookie cutters to cut out shapes. I used fall leaves and acorns here, but you can use any. I also love making bats. Smoosh together scraps of dough into a ball, add more of the reserved dough, roll out and cut out more shapes, and repeat until all of the dough has been used up.
8. Decoration: for these here, I used a sharp knife to draw grooves into the unbaked cookies and this turned out really nice. I sprinkled a little golden sugar (you can also use raw sugar, standard granulated sugar, or even just sprinkles) on top before baking.
8. Bake for about ten minutes. The longer you leave them in there, the crispier they will be.
9. Remove from oven and try to let them cool a bit before you eat them! Serve with your favorite hot beverage!
For the hot apple cider, I just bought a jug of fresh apple cider from the grocery store and boiled a few mugs' worth in my electric kettle. I put cinnamon sticks into the mugs and poured the cider over them. Yes, it made a mess of the kettle, but kettles can be cleaned, and oh my God, was it worth it. These cookies are gorgeous dipped into hot apple cider. Give it a try!
I hope the weather is better where you are! Stay warm!