Yesterday, if only for the sake of experiment, I ground up some citrus-y Earl Grey tea leaves in the food processor. Then I added the leaves and a splash of rose water to a standard butter-cookie dough. The result of this crazy adventure? Pure heaven!
A note about Earl Grey tea. This flavored black tea has been around since the 1820s. Its gorgeous citrus scent comes from the oil of the rind of the bergamot orange. The tea is available in most supermarkets. For the best taste and aroma, I always select the loose version, which comes in a can. Bagged teas, in my experience, are stale and weak.
In the bowl of a food processor, add 1 1/2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1 honking tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves. Pulse the machine 10 times or so just to break up the leaves.
No standing mixer for you?
Use a big bowl and a hand-held electric beater.
No hand-held electric beater for you?
Use a big bowl and a stout spoon, just as all bakers did prior to 1920.
Ah, the 1920s. The era of speakeasies. And prohibition.
It was a dreadful decade.
And, if you have it, 1/2 teaspoon rose water. Culinary-grade rose water is available at gourmet food shops, Indian markets, and from online sources. You can use it to perfume your cakes and custards. You can even use it to perfume yourself. Just dab it on your wrists, like I never do.
Meanwhile, place the oven rack at the lower-third position, and preheat the oven to 350°F.
And inhale deeply! The citrus-y scent will send you over the moon.
Folks, these cookies are heaven on earth. I hope you’ll try them some day.
As promised, here’s a printer-friendly copy-and-paste version of the above recipe. (Don’t know how to copy and paste? Watch this video.)
Fragrant Earl Grey Cookies
Kevin Lee Jacobs (www.kevinleejacobs.com)
Ingredients for about 2 dozen 2-inch-diameter biscuits
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon culinary-grade rose water (optional)
1 large egg
Special Equipment: A food processor; a standing mixer outfitted with the paddle attachment (or use hand-held electric beaters); a parchment-lined baking sheet; a 2-inch diameter biscuit cutter
Put the flour, baking powder, salt and tea leaves in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse 10 times just to break up the leaves.
In the bowl of a standing mixer (or in any large bowl, if you are using hand-held electric beaters), add the butter and sugar. Beat at medium speed until light and fluffy — about 4 minutes. With the machine running at low speed, beat in the vanilla and optional rose water, the egg, and the tea mixture. Increase speed to medium, and beat just until the dough comes together — 30 seconds to 1 minute. Enclose the dough in plastic wrap, and chill for 1 hour.
On a lightly-floured work surface, roll the dough 1/8-inch thick. Use the biscuit cutter to press out cookies, placing them as you go on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Chill for 10-15 minutes.
When you are ready to bake, set the oven rack at the lower-middle position; preheat the oven to 350°F.
Bake until the edges of the cookies feel dry — 12-15 minutes. The cookies will color only slightly during their sojourn in the oven. Let cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack for further cooling.
Serve with tea, lemonade, orange juice, or champagne.
Refrigerate or freeze leftover cookies.
Don’t miss anything at A Garden for the House…sign up for Kevin’s weekly email updates.