Unbelievable Chai Shortbread Cookies


This recipe is out of this world. Don't let the long, arduous, manual kneading process discourage you. The reward is 100% worth it. Maybe even 200% worth it.

1 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened and cubed, divided into 3/4 cup portions
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3 tea bags, chai flavored (I like Stash Black Tea Chai Spice)
Place the first 3/4 cup of butter in a saucepan on medium heat to brown. Use the medium-low setting if you've never browned butter before, but know that it will take longer. (If this is your first time, I recommend looking up a tutorial). Let it melt and keep stirring continuously, scraping along the bottom. You’re looking for a dark caramel color and a nutty aroma. Once the desired color is reached, strain into a bowl through a fine wire strainer to get rid of the dark brown bits. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Cream the rest of the butter with the sugar in a large mixing bowl, then add and cream the cooled browned butter. Add your all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, and the contents of your tea bags. "Hand mix all the ingredients so that everything looks like small pebbles. It will be a motion close to rubbing your fingers against your thumb." (A great tip from the original author.) Begin kneading in the bowl, or turn out onto a flat surface, whichever you prefer. Knead with the heel of your hand, occasionally grabbing chunks and "folding" the dough. The suspicious quotes are to denote that the dough will just tear at first, but ignore that and keep kneading. Allow the dough to come together a bit,so that it doesn't completely crumble every time you fold it. This is going to take a pretty long time. Then keep going. Fold and knead, fold and knead, fold and knead. You're trying to get to a point where the dough has a very smooth surface and full of air. Trust me, you'll know when you get there. Roll out the dough to whatever thickness you wish. The thinner you roll them out, the crunchier they will be. The thicker they are, the softer they will be. When I roll out shortbread, I put the shortbread on a sheet of plastic wrap, flatten it out a little with my hands, and then put another sheet of plastic wrap on top of the shortbread. Then I use the rolling pin. This method makes sure that no extra flour gets worked into the surface of the shortbread. Cut them into any shape you want. I recommend a fairly small size. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet and bake for 15 minutes or until golden on the bottom. If it's been more than a couple of minutes more than that, and your cookies still don't have a golden brown bottom, pull them out. You don't want to overcook shortbread. Place on a cookie rack and cool. Store i


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