The first Michigan snowfall this season, plus some tea shortbread cookies

It's gently snowing at the moment and quite lovely.  We had our first real snowfall over the weekend, about 3 inches or so - really not much, but seeing that first snowy ground cover is always kind of exciting.  What might this winter bring, we ask?

still a few leaves on the burning bushes

looking north

For some time now I've been using a tea shortbread recipe that I received some years ago at a Women Chefs and Restauranteurs conference in Washington DC.  The presenter of one of the seminars on uses of tea in baking and cooking was Chef Laurie Bell of Great Falls Tea Garden.  She had cookie samples to share with us, having chosen a fennel chai tea as that day's particular flavor.  So yummy.

I just checked out their website and the business is still going strong.  Great stuff for you tea lovers.

my much used recipe copy

As you can see the recipe uses ground tea and ground almonds - use any tea your little heart desires and substitute any nut of choice - lots of versatility in this one folks!

Here in Grand Rapids Michigan Schuil Coffee Company ( sells all manner of flavored coffees and teas.  I popped in there the other day for the express purpose of purchasing their Earl Grey with jasmine bulk tea, and, in the process, opted for a Mayan chocolate tea as well. "It's peppery!" was the side note from the staff.  Perfect for these shortbread cookies, I say.

les ingredients

In the bowl above I have 57 gm almond flour (you can grind your own toasted, sliced or slivered almonds easily enough), 130 gm all purpose flour, 1/2 tsp baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt and 75 gm sugar. In the forefront is my 10 gm of ground Earl Grey jasmine tea which will go in with the dry ingredients.  Then I simply dice my butter, sand it into the dry mix until it comes together.  Wrap and chill.

For the Mayan tea I opted to make two batches - one using the above recipe, obviously replacing the Earl Grey with the Mayan chocolate tea, and one substituting pistachios for almonds and adding cocoa powder to the mix. After all, when I hear "Mayan chocolate", I see a chocolate cookie in my mind's eye.  Among other things, the Mayan tea contains cardamom pods, cocoa and ginger pieces and black pepper - all good with chocolate if you ask me.

Oh! FYI - for the pistachio chocolate version I cut the flour back to 110 gm and added 24 gm of cocoa powder to the dry ingredients.

Once the doughs were completed, wrapped and chilled, I prepared for baking.

I love the many different cutter shapes available, and I chose three different ones to help me keep track of which cookie was which.

ready for the oven

These bake at 325 convection for about 20-25 minutes - remember to pay attention to what's going on in that oven of yours!

just out of the oven

Et voila!

getting into the holiday spirit

Bien sûr Steve and I had to do a little taste testing.   

The Earl Grey jasmine was delightful with a subtle floral hint to the more classic Earl Grey flavor. And I'm normally not much of a floral flavor fan (how's that for alliteration?)

While the straight Mayan chocolate tea version was smooth and tasty with a nice peppery aftertaste, the pistachio cocoa version was a tad dry, most likely due to the added cocoa powder (but delicious nonetheless).  Next go around I'll back down the cocoa powder a bit to 15 gm and up the flour to 120 gm.  And I'm considering a skosh more butter for that version as well.  The choice of pistachios is great for this flavor profile.

As I anticipate the upcoming December holidays and preparing gift boxes of shortbread,  I'm working on a special tea assortment.  I have a couple more flavor ideas bopping around in my head and hope to have the final assortment chosen soon.  Can't wait!

And Happy Thanksgiving to all from snowy Michigan.