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Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chai Shortbread

Shortbread is a perfect treat for the holiday season - quick to put together, but buttery and rich. It also stores and travels well for sending to out-of-town friends.

And what can't be improved with some cinnamon, nutmeg, cardamom, and ginger?

Chai Shortbread
Base recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma Cookies. Chai spices inspired by these Chocolate Covered Vanilla Chai Shortbread Cookies, but without, you know, the chocolate.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1/4 cup white sugar, plus more for sprinkling
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
a pinch of black pepper

1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Take out an ungreased 9-inch square baking pan.
2. Use a mixer to cream the butter until fluffy and pale yellow, or do it by hand with a whisk. Add the sugars and continue beating until the mixture is no longer gritty. Beat in the vanilla and spices.
3. In a separate bowl, mix the flour and salt together (or, if you're lazy like me, just measure it out into the bowl of butter and sugar). Gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture while mixing on low speed or by hand until just blended.
4. Press the dough evenly into the pan. Sprinkle with about a tablespoon of white sugar and some cinnamon.
5. Bake the shortbread until the edges are golden, about 50 minutes to an hour. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately use a thin, sharp knife to cut the shortbread into strips or squares (if you let it cool first, the shortbread will crumble when you try to cut it). Let the strips cool in the pan on a wire rack for about 30 minutes before moving them to the rack to cool completely.

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