Masala Chai Sable Cookies

I don't bake as many cookies throughout the year as I should. It's curious given how religiously I have my afternoon tea since the beginning of the time of the dinosaurs. And tea has to go with a cookie (I dig me Laura Numeroff's children books with the enchantingly whimsical illustrations by Felicia Bond).
My cookie baking reluctance is due to the fact that instead of taking the easy route of drop cookies or slice and bake logs, I wish to go all fancy and make cut out cookies. After all, we are talking high-tea, even if only in my humble abode here. A girl can pretend can't she?! (wink! wink!) While rolling out, the dough breaks, cracks and I find the entire process super frustrating. A royal pain in the bum.
Mid-way through rolling out the dough, I thought to myself what if I roll it out while it is still in the saran wrap?! Guess what?! Even if others before me have done so for eternity, in my kitchen, at that moment, it felt like I invented the wheel. Please don't burst my bubble. haha. In fact, please do. If you use the same method, I would like to know. This technique also ensures no added dusting of flour is needed while rolling. The added flour, or excess of it to be precise, can change the consistency and texture of the cookie. I suspect from now on I will bake cookies year-round, though the holidays do put me in an extra special cookie baking festive mood.
If you like pumpkin spice chai latte everything chances are you would love, love these masala chai sable (sand) cookies. I went bold and used the upper end of my suggested spice measurements this time. You can use less spices for a more delicately spice-laced cookies. Either way these cookies will brighten and warm up your holidays.
I used decaffeinated Earl Grey tea, as it is my favorite, even if traditionally chai is made with darker more robust tea leaves. I also didn't wish to have caffeinated cookies. My imagination runs wild at the idea of hyper caffeinated cookies. It makes me smile. The tea leaves in the tea bags were very fine so I didn't to have to further grind them. You can make the cookies thicker (3/8 inch, 1/3 inch?!), more shortbread-y-like. Make sure to adjust baking time if you do so.

Confession: While I usually sift the confectioners sugar, this time I forgot. I didn't notice any difference in the end result.

Masala Chai Sable Cookies
approx 50-60 2 inch cookies (depending on thickness)

2 sticks (8 oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
Tea leaves from 6 decaffeinated Earl Grey teabags
A couple of pinches - 1/8 teaspoon salt
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cardamon
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
Few pinches of ground star anise

Add the butter into a Kitchen Aid mixer bowl and beat on a medium speed with a paddle attachment until smooth. Turn to low speed and add the sugars and continue beating for about a minute longer. Throughout the process, scrape the edges of the mixer bowl once in a while. Add the egg yolks and beat until blended.

Add the flour, tea leaves, salt, cardamon, ginger, cloves and star anise into a separate medium bowl and mix.

Add the flour mix into the creamed butter in three to four batches and keep beating on low for 30 seconds to 1 minute. Use a rubber spatula to mix further if flour is not entirely incorporated. Process the dough as little as possible.

For an easy slice and bake method, you can shape the dough into logs as instructed here or...

Divide the dough into 4 parts and form each into a round disc. Wrap each disc tightly with a generous piece of saran wrap and keep refrigerated for at least 1 hour or until the butter in the dough somewhat re-solidifies but the dough isn't too hard. You can keep this dough refrigerated for up to two days. If you do, let it thaw for a few minutes before rolling out.

Roll out each disc into an 1/8 or 2/8 inch thick disc while still wrapped in the saran wrap. If the dough cracks or breaks at first, re-form it into a disc while applying pressure with your hands while it is still in the saran wrap. Proceed to roll out with the rolling pin again. If it's too tight and the dough needs space to expand while rolling, loosen up the Saran wrap as you roll. Turn the dough to roll it on the flipped side to achieve a smooth consistency on both sides. This technique is super easy and the dough will roll out beautifully as you see in the photo below.
Unwrap the top of the rolled out cookie dough from the saran wrap and form the cookies with a desired cookie cutter shape. Peel off the cookies gently from the plastic wrap and place one inch apart on parchment paper lined cookie sheets. Refrigerate for an hour or longer before baking. Make more cookies from the dough scraps. If scraps get too soft refrigerate wrapped in saran wrap before rolling.

Preheat oven to 350F*. Bake the 1/8 inch cookies for 8-10 minutes and the 2/8 inch ones for 12-14 minutes or until the cookies are just slightly golden around the edges. Let cookies cool down and come to room temperature. The cookies will firm up as they cool down. Do not attempt to remove cookies from the cookie sheet while they are still hot out of the oven. They will be too soft when hot.

Store in an air tight container and keep in a cool corner on the counter for at least five days.

The masala chai sable cookies can be pre-baked and frozen in a Tupperware. Separate each layer of cookies with parchment paper. They can be kept frozen up to a month. Let the cookies thaw for a few minutes on the counter before serving.

*Oven temperatures may vary.

Wishing you all delicious holidays!

Other Holiday Cookies:
Meyer Lemon Butter Cookie Sandwiches with Jam
Lemon Poppy Seed Sable Cookies
Polenta Citrus Sable Cookie Snaps
Nankhatai - An Indian Butter Cookie
Flourless Fudgy Chocolate Coconut Cookies
Rich Chocolate Brownie Cookies