I always make a few batches of seasonal treats well before the serious Christmas cooking gets under way. Having cookies or other sweet morsels around is especially handy for less formal catch-ups over tea or coffee, and once wrapped in cellophane and tied with some festive ribbon they make a delicious handmade gift. These simple butter cookies are elevated by the fragrant tea and warm spices, and can be left plain or decorated as elaborately as you like with nuts, glace fruit and even gold leaf.
500g plain flour
7g bicarbonate of soda
5g baking powder
1½ tsp ground cardamom
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp ground ginger
2 earl grey teabags
520g castor sugar
240g cold unsalted butter
2 x 70g eggs
70g golden syrup
1 tsp bitter almond extract
pistachios, to garnish
blanched almonds, to garnish
silver or gold leaf, to garnish (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 180C fan-forced or 200C conventional. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
2. Sift the flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and spices into a bowl.
3. Tip the contents of the tea bags into a small bowl with one tablespoon of boiling water and stand for one minute.
4. Add the hydrated tea leaves, sugar, butter and salt to the bowl of a stand mixer and cream with the paddle attachment on high speed until pale and creamy. Reduce the speed to low and mix in the eggs, golden syrup and almond extract until combined. Add the flour and spice mix and mix until a dough is formed.
5. Roll the dough into walnut-sized balls (about 20g each) and place on the prepared trays about 10 centimetres apart – you may need to bake these in two batches, or you can refrigerate or freeze any leftover dough. Garnish the biscuits with pistachios, almonds and silver or gold leaf (if using), flattening them slightly as you do. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden. Set aside to cool on the trays.
1. Omitting the tea and spice will yield a delicious plain butter cookie.
2. You could dip these in milk chocolate for a more decadent treat.
3. Roll the portioned balls of dough in cocoa before cooking, which will give the cookies a pretty, cracked effect once baked.
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