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Orange Chai Spice Cookies

Orange Chai Spice Cookies

Inspirations can come from strange places, and this one is a hybrid, from two different sources. One, a recipe for chai spice shortbread cookies that I’ve adapted from a Lever House recipe. It doesn’t use the tea, but just the spices in chai. Being extremely caffeine-sensitive but chai-loving (don’t get me started about how hard it is to find house-brewed chai here even in NYC), these provide the fix sans the shakes.

Two, a Leonard Cohen song lyric. This one’s on loop a lot in my head. I know I’m not crazy because Hamilton Leithauser from the band The Walkmen had a side-project called “Tea and Oranges” covering LC songs. And at the risk of sounding too cornball, have you ever had tea and an orange together? It tastes perfect, like you’re not missing anything. Not even cake.

So this cookie was an organic (orangic?) marriage of the zest of an orange with the idea and flavor of tea. Perfect for a cool, cloudy afternoon when you’re feeling sullen and want a little brightness and spice.

zested orange

Ingredients:

Zest of 1 orange [Use a super light touch with your Microplane. A chef told us in school that zested citrus should “look and feel like suede” when finished with no pith showing. That somewhat poetic description stuck with me.]

2 sticks of room-temperature butter

1 egg yolk

2 cups of flour

1 cup of confectioners sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp cardamom

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

To make:

In a mixing bowl, combine the zest and butter and let it sit for awhile (you can do this step first, and then measure out all the other ingredients). Add egg yolk and paddle until the mixture is light and fluffy.

orange zest + butter

In a separate bowl, mix together the sugar, flour, all the spices, and salt. Add the dry mixture to the butter mixture in three batches, and mix until just incorporated.

Roll into logs about 1 to 1-1/2 inches wide, roll in plastic wrap, and chill in the freezer for a half hour (you can keep the dough frozen for a week or two if you don’t want to bake right away). While they freeze, preheat oven to 350. When ready, cut into 1/4 inch-thick slices and bake on parchment paper for 7-10 minutes or until slightly shy of golden around the edges.

Yield: About two dozen cookies.

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