Masala chai (mixed spice tea) is a popular Indian beverage made by boiling black tea in milk and water with a mixture of herbs and spices. The typical spices involved include a base of cardamom and ginger, with some combination of peppercorn, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, fennel, star anise, and allspice.
I used the contents of two chai tea bags, but you can also make your own chai mix. If the spices in your tea bag aren’t ground, you can grind them in a mortar and pestle, or a cleaned coffee grinder.
Are these technically shortbread or sugar cookies?
They’re kind of both. It’s fine to call these either “decorated sugar cookies” or “decorated shortbread cookies.” But I’m going to refer to any of my cookie recipes that can used as a base for cookie decorating as “shortbread sugar cookies.”
- 2 parts flour to 1 part fat
- No eggs
- No leavening agent
- Dense and crispy
- 3 parts flour to 2 parts fat
- Contains eggs
- Contains a leavening agent
- Light and Chewy
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes don’t rise or spread, can be used for cookie decorating, have egg, but no leavening agent, and have a 2 ¼ parts flour to 1 part fat. Which makes them fall somewhere between a shortbread and a sugar cookie. They’re both shortbread and sugar cookies, and neither shortbread or sugar cookies, at the same time. They’re Shrodinger’s cookies!
All of my shortbread sugar cookie recipes can be used for slice-and-bake cookies as well!
If you would like more info on my preferred ingredient brands, tips and tricks, FAQs, and a little cookie science, I cover all of that in my No-Spread Lemon Shortbread Sugar Cookie Recipe.
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Masala Chai Shortbread Sugar Cookies
- measuring spoons and cups
- mixing bowls
- cling wrap
- cookie cutters
- large knife
- 1 cup unsalted butter room temperature
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup powdered sugar
- 1 large egg room temperature
- ½ teaspoon vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
- 2 bags masala chai tea about 1 tablespoon or 1 tablespoon chai mix (recipe below)
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
Masala Chai Mix
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
- ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon black tea
- ⅛ ground star anise or fennel optional
- Empty contents of two bags of chai tea and set aside. If spices aren’t ground, grind with mortar and pestle or spice grinder. Or make your own chai mix.
- Whisk flour and cornstarch together and set aside.
- Cream butter and sugars with paddle attachment, on medium-low speed, until fluffy and pale in color (about 5 minutes).
- Add egg, vanilla extract, and chai spice, and mix on low speed until thoroughly combined. Scrape down the paddle with a spatula, and then continue to mix on low speed for another 30 seconds to ensure everything is fully incorporated.
- Add dry ingredients, all at once, and mix on low speed just until dough starts to come together and no dry bits remain. Do not overmix.
- Turn dough out onto cling wrap, tightly wrap, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 4 hours).
- Knead, roll, cut out cookies, and return to fridge or freezer until firm. Leave a couple inches between cookies.
- Bake at 350°F for 15 minutes, rotate pan, and bake for another 1-5 minutes until edges are starting to turn golden brown.
- Remove cookies from oven and allow to cool on cookie sheet before handling.
- The reason for adding 1-2 tablespoons of cornstarch to your dough is to prevent your cookies from shrinking or spreading during baking.
- If making slice-and-bake cookies, split dough in half, roll into logs, wrap tightly in cling wrap or parchment paper, and refrigerate before slicing and baking.
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