Growing up in Germany, my main impressions of life in the US came from TV shows and movies – though knowing how accurate media representation can be (Surprise! We don’t all skip around in Lederhosen, a beer in the left and a sausage in the right over here), I’ve always been quite sceptical about the amount of realism depicted in the O.C., Bring It On or Buffy. (Other than, you know, the whole vampire slaying thing.) As someone who’s seen a lot more castles than football games in her life, the whole yellow-school-bus-cheerleader-try-outs-hall-pass lifestyle seemed just a tad out there.
So when I moved to the US for university, I got super excited every time I discovered an overly cliché thing that actually exists. When you’ve spent your whole school life without prom, football teams, spring break or lockers, the fact that chinese take-out actually comes in white and red cardboard containers can seem a whole lot more glamorous than you think. (One of my favourite thing about college parties was the fact that people actually use those red cups. Amazing!) Also, if you’ve always thought of tornadoes as things that only happen in movies, the midwest can be a bit of a scary place.
Anyway, Snickerdoodles were right up there – cookies that people in Veronica Mars make (or more recently, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries), not real life. Fortunately though, people do actually make them. And they’re really tasty. And if you haven’t seen the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you should.
I’ve seen a few recipes for Chai Snickerdoodles, but I wanted to try to actually incorporate tea, not just the spices. I’ve recently stumbled across the idea of tea-infused butter, so I thought I’d give it a try for this. I used Harney & Son’s Indian Spice, but anything in the general chai direction would work.
I scaled this recipe down quite a bit because there’s no way I (even with the help of my flatmate) can eat the amount of cookies the original recipe makes. (More on this recurring problem in the next recipe post btw!) So if you want more cookies, refer to the Smitten Kitchen recipe and just switch out the butter and spices. (I also always forget to count how many cookies I get out of a recipe, but my educated guess for this one would be around ten to twelve.)
110g (1 cup minus 2 tbsp) flour
2/3 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
75g (1/3 cup) chai-infused butter (see recipe below)
112g + 20g (1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp) sugar
1 small egg
Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves
1. Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a second bowl, beat butter and 112g (1/2 cup) sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined.
2. Add the dry ingredients to the second bowl and mix until combined. Chill the dough for an hour.
3. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Mix 20g (1 1/2 tbsp) sugar with the spices.
4. With the help of a teaspoon, form balls out of the dough, roll them in the sugar-spice-mix and place them on a baking tray with parchment paper – leaving enough space between them to expand. Bake for ten minutes.
Chai-infused Butter (based on this method from Cupcake Project)
90g (1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (approximately)*
12 g (around 9 tsp) loose-leaf chai
1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add your tea leaves and leave the pan over low heat for five minutes.
2. Remove the pan from heat and let it stand for another five minutes.
3. Pour mixture through a sieve. (Pressing the leaves down with a spoon helps.) Let the whole thing cool down.
*You will lose some butter in the process, so we’re starting out with slightly more butter than the cookie recipe calls for. If – depending on your tea leaves squeezing abilities – you should end up with less butter than the 1/3 cup, just replace the rest with regular unsalted butter.