Blog Earl Grey Tea Cookies
This week's recipe is a tea cookie in the truest sense. As long as people have been drinking tea, they have also put it in food. Chefs use brewed tea as a braising liquid or to boil food (rice and hard-cooked eggs, for example) and dry tea leaves as a spice (for rubbing on meat). On the sweet end of the spectrum, tea finds its way into everything from ice creams and custards to cakes and cookies. The best showcase for the subtle flavor of tea is a simple dessert, such as a shortbread cookie, and though there are dozens of varieties of tea available to try when baking, Earl Grey is one of the most popular, perhaps because of its appealing citrus notes. Earl Grey tea is simply ordinary black (fermented) tea flavored with bergamot, a type of bitter orange. It has been in existence since the early 1800s and was named for Charles, the second Earl Grey, who was the British Prime Minister in the 1830s.
There are many recipes for Earl Grey tea cookies, and they are all quite similar. My version includes vanilla along with some orange zest to emphasize the bergamot flavor. Grinding the zest and the tea leaves with the sugar in a food processor helps distribute their flavor evenly throughout the dough, although you could make these cookies with an electric mixer. The tea gives the cookies a pretty speckled surface, which it would be a pity to hide under a blanket of icing. Instead, you could do as I did and make a small amount of orange-scented icing to use for some simple decorations. I don't think I need to tell you what to drink with these. Try some milk, honey, and a pinch of cardamom in the tea—delicious.