Wednesday, December 12, 2012

chai tea sugar cookies + the great food blogger cookie swap 2012...

Welp, it's that time again! The 2nd Annual Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap is here!

Gotta be honest- a funny thing has started happening. Having done this last year as well...the Christmas season (to me) sort of officially kicks off with this swap! Kind of neat!

When thinking of a cookie to create, I decided pretty right off the bat that I would continue my subtle trend of recreating good 'ol fashioned cookies that we all grew up with! Last year I jazzed up the lovely Chocolate Chip and this year I figured I'd try to give some pizzaz to the Sugar Cookie! (Seriously already thinking of next year too! Oatmeal....Peanut Butter....Thumbprint.....Snickerdoodle...be still my heart)

Recreating and pumping up the volume of a classic cookie is becoming this sort of fun obsession now. My number one rule is to keep the cookie's true characteristics first and foremost. There's a reason we grew up with these cookies and they are still loved today- there are certain aspects we love and don't want to see removed. So I've made it my goal to top those basic classic cookie foundations with modern, creative, and even sometimes risky components! Lastly, I want to do all of this while creating a cookie that is fun and super yummy to eat. Maybe that last part should be my first goal....

Anyway...

Like stated earlier, last year I started with my favorite cookie- the Chocolate Chip, and perked it up with brown butter and sea salt

This year, I went with my second favorite- the good 'ol Sugar Cookie and gave it a good kick in the pants! I combined it with one of my other favorite things- Chai Tea. MmMmMmmmmm! It's winter time...Christmas is in the air....weather is cool...chai tea season for sure! Actually if I'm going to be really honest, I drink chai tea year round. I love it so freaking much! 

These cookies were so perfectly Chai-ie (?) and the end result is more of a cake-like cookie than a crispy flat one ;)
Here's the thing though, when making cookies for a Food Blogger Cookie Swap...one that starts with The Great no less, normal ingredients just won't do.

So I searched for what I thought were the best quality, best tasting, and yummiest ingredients I could possibly find. This included homemade vanilla bean sugar in place of regular granulated sugar, organic brown sugar, organic cage-free eggs, Tazo Chai Tea (I opted for decaffeinated in case someone was caffeine sensitive), and Kerrygold unsalted butter.

This butter! Oh this butter!!! If you haven't tasted it, please find some stat! I buy mine from Trader Joe's- it's kind of pricey- but oh so worth it. Sold in 8oz increments, it's a luxury butter for sure.

It's golden yellow, smells like creamy heaven, and is so silky smooth. It's softer than your normal butter (even when straight out of the fridge) because of its higher fat content. It is seriously the most yummy butter I've had yet.

I want to make everything out of it. I want to whip it a little and top cupcakes with it, straight! I want to smear pads of it on fresh baked bread, rolls, biscuits, scones, croissants and eat myself into oblivion.

Yeah. It's that good. Expensive, but good.
Ugh. Couldn't you just...just name your first born after this stuff? Sheesh.


Chai Tea Sugar Cookies
Makes approx 2 dozen if using a 1.5" scoop

For the cookies:
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup vanilla sugar + 2 tablespoons
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar, packed
  • 4 oz (1 stick) good quality unsalted butter, room temperature (I used Kerrygold brand)
  • 1 room temperature organic cage free egg
  • 2 tablespoons chai tea powder (made from about 6 good quality chai tea bags- I used Tazo decaffeinated)
    • How to make this powder, shown in directions

Vanilla Chai Sugar (for rolling cookies in):
  • 1/4 cup vanilla sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon chai tea powder
    • From the chai powder we'll make for the cookies. How-to in directions.


How to make the Chai Tea Powder (for usage in cookie dough AND Vanilla Chai Sugar):

  1. In a food processor or powerful blender, add contents of 6 chai tea bags. I just simply removed bags, snipped off the top with kitchen shears, and dumped each bag's tea into the processor.
  2. Process on high for about 30 seconds or until you have a fine powder. Careful removing lid- powerful, powdery air will come out and tickle your nose!
  3. Dump powder carefully into a bowl and set aside. 


How to make cookies:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350*F and set two racks in oven to the middle. Line two sheet pans with parchment or better yet- silpats. Set aside.
  2. Make your vanilla chai sugar by mixing together 1/4 cup of vanilla sugar and 1/4 teaspoon of your chai tea powder into a dish or pie pan. Set aside.
  3. Add your room temperature butter, vanilla sugar and brown sugar into the bowl of a stand mixer. Mix on medium-high until light in color and fluffy (or creamed as we call it)- about 5 minutes.
  4. While the butter/sugar is creaming, sift together your flour, baking soda, and salt- set aside.
  5. Scrape down sides of mixer bowl, and add room temperature egg. Mix again until fully combined. Scrape down sides again.
  6. Next add your 2 tablespoons of chai tea powder. Mix well. 
  7. Lastly with mixer on low, add your sifted flour mix. Combine until JUST incorporated- you can definitely overmix here and create a tough cookie. No bueno. 
  8. With a 1.5" ice cream scoop, scoop out balls of dough. Roll in hands until smooth and round, then roll around in your vanilla chai sugar. Make sure all of the surface of each ball is covered!
  9. After the dough has been rolled in sugar, place onto your baking sheet, about 1 1/2-2" apart. I fit a dozen on each silpat lined sheet pan.
  10. Bake for about 15 minutes. Remove from oven as soon as your cookies have risen, cracked a little on top, and are just beginning to brown on the bottom. Do not let bottoms get darker than a light golden color- it will take away from the chai flavor, surprisingly.
  11. Allow to cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes and then enjoy!


For packaging, I kept it simple yet fun. On a trip to my local Michael's Craft Store, I found some adorable treat packages by Martha Stewart (Martha for the win again). These included cellophane bags, little boxes, ribbon and gift tags. Zing!

I embellished each box with my mixer logo using a handmade stamp I bought a few months back. Then I tied up (super securely and as air tight as humanly possible- these were all shipping across the country!) 6 cookies per bag and secured to it's box. I opted for a handwritten gift tag because I wanted to show that a real human being made these cookies, haha. Makes it a lot more personal, if you ask me. My handwriting for the win!

Each recipient received two boxes of cookies (6 per box), a recipe card that I printed off the computer and typed the recipe on, a business card and..wait for it...wait....the cutest tiny eensie weensie "Merry Christmas" clothespin that I ever did see. This was literally a spotted-with-the-corner-of-my-eye-as-I-was-rushing-through-Target-one-super-busy-day thing. Saw them, gasped, squealed with delight, made people stare, grabbed them, threw them into my cart, and rushed off. LOVE THESE PINS!

To see how I packaged up my cookies last year, click here.

My recipients included:

Lindsay from Love & Olive Oil (Co-creator of the cookie swap...GASP!)
Kristen from Dine and Dish :)
Maris from In Good Taste :)
I received cookies from:

Gerry from Foodness Gracious (Umm SO GOOD! His cookies and caramels were mouth watering!)
Jilly from Baking by Precious (Again, these were devoured way too quickly!)
Becky from Becky Cooks (These peanut butter yummies were gone in ONE day! Yes, ONE.)

Click here to print recipe!






PS- Cannot wait for next year!
PPS- Wanna see everyone else's recipes?!?! Click here and here to see the hundreds of others! Seriously, get your pinning hand ready- you'll want to save a LOT!

15 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Your cookies were absolutely amazing! Loved them so much! Thank you for them!!!

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  2. Have to tell you again how much we enjoyed your cookies. My husband would have eaten them all for breakfast if I hadn't stopped him. :) Thanks so much, once again!

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    1. I am just beyond thrilled to hear you guys enjoyed your cookies! Yay! Love doing this swap, Lindsay- thanks for having the heart to do it year after year (+ The Little Kitchen too!)

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  3. I love anything with the word cookies in it :) looks good!

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    1. Thanks Christina! They were certainly Chai-ie! Chai-ie and delicious!! ;) Hehe

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  4. Your cookies look amazing! Your packaging is to die for! And I can't wait to try this recipe!

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    Replies
    1. MY COOKIES?!? Girl, I pinned your recipe RIGHT away! Can't wait to make!

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  5. These look so amazing! And I've seen that butter at Whole Foods, I will have to buy some the next time I'm there. I'm all for splurging on the deliciousness of butter. Your packaging came out super cute too. I just love this whole cookie swap idea! Thanks for sharing with us!

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    Replies
    1. Hehehehe, I think it's a fine thing to do- splurge on butter. A fine thing indeed!!! Plus- this butter is AMAZING stuff- so why not?!

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  6. These were so delicious and your packaging was the cutest ever! Thanks so much for the wonderful gift!

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    Replies
    1. Aww thank you Kristen! To be honest- I was nervous sending to you AND Lindsay!!! I couldn't believe my luck of receiving names of two big bloggers I know! :) So glad to hear you enjoyed them! LOVING your cookie idea as well!

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  7. Oh my gosh Christina!! I die! These just look fantastic. I MUST try them!!

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    1. Aww Mackenzie! My FBCOOKIESWAP 2011 friend! The good ol days, hehehe. I was honestly sad to not have had your name or you/mine. BUT so glad to have an amazing friendship with ya through last years!

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    ReplyDelete

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