These sophisticated little shortbread bites are flavored with earl grey tea and orange zest and then drizzled with a mandarin orange glaze. I liked them on the first day that I made them but I loved them once they had a chance to sit overnight. They are the kind of cookie that just gets better with age.
I had recently picked up Martha Stewart's cookie book and was dying to try a recipe. Actually, more like dying to try 25, 30, 40 of the recipes. The more that I went between the pages trying to narrow it down, the more recipes I ended up adding to my list. In the end I handed the book over to my friend Noelle and told her to pick one of the recipes from the dog-eared pages for me.Left to my own devices I'm happy to just make lists upon lists of things to bake and do without ever getting around to the actual doing part of things.
Considering that Noelle's visits always involve tea (always) this recipe is very fitting. Plus it was a snap to put together. In fact, it was so easy (and delicious) that I made the cookies two days in a row.
The first step is to grind up earl grey tea leaves into a fine powder. This tea is already ground very fine but I gave it a whirl in a spice grinder anyways. For the second batch I skipped that step and there was no noticeable difference.
The next step is to zest an orange. I used a regular orange for the cookies but a mandarin orange for the glaze. I find that once zest is baked into a cookie there isn't too much difference between regular and mandarin but when it's raw (like in the glaze) you can really tell which one is which.
To make the dough the tea gets stirred in with the flour and set aside. Then soft butter gets creamed with the zest and icing sugar and the flour is stirred in until it's all combined. The trick to having workable dough is making sure that your butter is soft so that it coats the flour properly. If the butter is not quite at room temperature then the dough will be a bit crumbly and stubborn. And nobody like stubborn dough.
The dough only takes a few minutes to put together and the cookies only take around 10- 13 minutes to bake. The dough does need to chill before you can roll it out or slice it if you've made it into a log but this gives you time to clean up the kitchen (and make a cup of tea!).
Where have you been all my life shortbread? So quick and so tasty.
The cookies are only slightly sweet which means that they lend themselves perfectly to being drizzled with a sweet and citrus-y glaze. I mixed up some orange juice with mandarin zest and icing sugar and topped off the cookies with it. You can still taste the hint of tea and each cookie is buttery and has at least a few grains of salt in it that make them a little bit addictive.
I think I'm going to make all my shortbread cookies this tiny from now on for a whole variety of reasons. First (and most importantly) they look adorable like this. My irrational love for miniature things definitely applies to baked goods. Secondly, these cookies are the perfect size for when you want something to go along with your tea or coffee but probably shouldn't be eating an entire regular-sized cookie (although there is no guarantee that you won't just eat more of the little ones). Plus the recipe makes a lot of tiny cookies so you'll have some to share!
Earl Grey Shortbread with Orange Glaze
(slightly adapted from Martha Stewart's Cookies)
2 cups flour minus one tablespoon
1 TBSP corn starch
2 TBSP finely ground earl grey tea (about four tea bags)
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup unsalted butter soften/room temperature
1/2 icing sugar (powdered sugar)
1 TBSP orange zest
Preheat oven to 375
1. Stir together the flour, salt, and tea
2. In the bowl of a mixer cream the icing sugar, butter, and zest together until light and fluffy
3. With the mixer speed on low stir in the flour mixture until combined
4. If rolling out the dough to cut out shapes: Squeeze the dough into a ball, wrap in plastic and chill until firm enough to roll out. Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness and cut out 1 1/4 inch shapes and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Place cookie sheets in freezer to firm up before baking.
If shaping the dough into a log for slices: Divide the dough in half. Shape each half into a log 1 1/4 inches in diameter and wrap in parchment. Place in freezer until firm enough to slice. Slice each cookie 1/4 inch thick and place on parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
5. Bake the cookies at 375 for 10-13 minutes until the edges of the cookies are slightly brown. Move to a wire rack to cool completely before serving.
1 - 2 TBSP orange juice
zest from one mandarin orange
Icing sugar/ powdered sugar
1. Combine one tablespoon of orange juice with the orange zest. Gradually whisk in icing sugar until the glaze is of drizzling consistency. If your glaze gets too thick add a few drops of orange juice at a time until it thins out. Drizzle over the cookies and let set before serving.