Monday, January 31, 2011

Take One Cup of Flour ...

 ... and you have the basis of a very versatile biscuit!

I've been in a baking mood for a while. I had perfected my gingerbread biscuits (the hottest and most flavoursome according to those who tried them) and tackled espresso biscuits sandwiched with chocolate ganache. I was feeling adventurous and wanted to come up with an original recipe. Because the espresso biscuits had used real coffee grounds, I reasoned that real tea leaves might work in a buttery biscuit and loving the way mixed peel crystallises when baked, I decided Earl Grey might be a good match so I did a google search and lo and behold, I discovered that someone had got there before me. (Actually, several people had but this recipe was the first one I looked at and it sounded really simple so I chose to try it.)

As with all my baking, I couldn't just follow the recipe, I had to add my own touches, experimenting until I came up with a biscuit that is so fragrant that it is undeniably more-ish. One of the special ingredients is Herbie's Fragrant Sweet Spices. A blend of coriander, cassia, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, ginger, poppy seeds, cloves, cardomom and rose petals and available from specialty stores, it's the perfect addition to most baked goods. I've resorted to ordering it in bulk direct from the online store - where you can learn all about culinary and spice expert Ian Hemphill and the story of this supplier of all spices.
Linda's Earl Grey Tea Biscuits

1 cup of plain flour
1 heaped tablespoon of Earl Grey tea leaves
1/4 cup of caster sugar
1/4 cup of pure icing sugar
1 heaped teaspoon of Herbie's Sweet Spices
3 heaped teaspoons of very finely minced mixed peel
1/4 teaspoon of salt (optional)

100 gm unsalted butter (melted)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon orange blossom water

Pre-heat the oven to 160 degrees celcius
Process the tea leaves in a 4 cup food processor until finely minced.

Add the dry ingredients and process again until well mixed.
Melt the butter in a microwave safe jug, mix in the vanilla and orange blossom water.
Pour into the dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse until the mixture comes together into a dough. (Add a little more water if too dry.)

Remove the blade (or transfer the mixture to another bowl) and knead the dough until it becomes pliable.

At this point, lay baking paper on a similar sized piece of foil and roll the dough into a log, wrapping until it's secure.
Put the log into the refrigerator for about half an hour to chill.
At this point you can freeze the dough (for months as the original recipe suggests) or refrigerate it overnight.
If you do, I recommend that you remove it from the freezer or refrigerator a good hour before you want to bake it as the dough will be hard to work with until it comes back to room temperature.
If you're happy with circular cookies, you can slice them straight from the refrigerator, transfer them to a tray lined with baking paper and bake for 10-15 minutes or until the edges start to brown.

If like me, you like a little finesse, pull a small lump of dough from the main portion and knead it until it is again pliable, then roll till thin (the thinner the dough prior to baking, the crispier the result and the better they will taste) and cut out with cookie cutters, then transfer to a tray and bake as above.

Personally, I find that these cookies taste best once they've cooled and are better the day after they are baked. Here's a nice big close up you can almost smell!

If you have any left over, store in an airtight container, but I doubt that you will!

I have already started experimenting with a different variation, a Chai Latte version which substitutes the Earl Grey tea leaves with a Chai Latte leaf and the orange blossom water for a tablespoon of reconstituted instant coffee. I also left the mixed peel and Fragrant Sweet Spices out of this one as the spices in the Chai tea leaves are very subtle and are easily overwhelmed.

Can't wait to try other combinations!


  1. I admire you for baking cookies in this heat! I've given up on that long time ago ;-) They look great thought!

  2. Thanks Maria, it helps to have air conditioning! Give them a go once it cools down, you won't be sorry. They're so simple and their fragrance drives people mad with desire! :D

  3. So good to eat, they get all crispy when they cool down and you can really taste the melange of flavours!

  4. Yaya just pointed out that I don't have a shot of the final product - we ate them too quickly but I will update this blog once I make another batch! :D

  5. I love Earl grey cookies! Such a delicious tea too :) And the heart shapes are just perfect!

  6. Can't wait to see your chai latte version of these cookies!!

  7. Interesting to see that the tea leaves go into the batter. Does the flavour infuse in the rest of the batter/cookie and do you feel the tea leaves when taking a bite?

  8. Hi Three-Cookies! You can really smell the tea from the moment you pour the hot melted butter into the flour mixture and again when they're in the oven. Whether you feel the tea leaves when you bite into them depends on how finely you blend them pre-mixing. I have had the odd longish piece remain and it didn't feel strange to chew and swallow. It's no different to say a fennel or caraway seed. As for the taste, you'll have to try that for yourself! Thanks for reading! :D