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Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies

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These Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies are speckled with aromatic ground masala chai tea. The spices will instantly warm you, so they are gonna be a perfect treat for a cold day.

masala chai shortbread cookies

The weather has gotten colder now and drinking masala chai has been my new routine. There is just something special about delicious warm chai spices like cinnamon, cardamom, and ginger. It is a bit sweet, savory, and spicy with a little essence of aromatic chai combined with spices. It is literally the ultimate drink to warm your body.

So, when brainstorming for the new cookie recipe, I naturally turned to my current favorite beverage masala chai. Shortbread cookies are the perfect base since they are made with just a few simple ingredients only. The base tastes neutral, so the tea flavor can taste strong here. To incorporate the masala chai with the cookies, the tea is grounded and added to the flour mixture so that you can taste the tea flavor in every bite.

Masala chai may be an unusual recipe flavor, but you will be impressed with the outcome. These crisp, tender and buttery Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies will instantly warm you, especially when you pair them with a cup of masala chai drink. Of course, they go equally well with coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. I hope your guys enjoy this Indian twist to the classic shortbread and give it a try this season. 

What Is Masala Chai?

Masala means a mixture of spices in Hindi. Meanwhile, chai comes from the Chinese word chá meaning tea. Therefore, masala chai means spiced tea. Masala chai is a beverage from India made by boiling black tea in milk and water with a mixture of aromatic herbs and spices. In America, masala chai also refers to chai latte or chai tea latte. However, to say chai tea literally means tea-tea. 

masala chai loose leaf tea

Spices in Masala Chai

The base for masala chai is a strong black tea such as Assam tea. Then, it is spiced with different proportions of warming spices. One thing is for certain that every single person in India probably has their own unique combination of spices they prefer in their masala chai and there is no one right way. It can be very subjective.

These are the five spices that are essential to make masala chai:

  • Green Cardamom. This is one of the dominant flavors in masala chai. It’s intensely fragrant with sharp vegetal notes of green spice and pepper, with a warming bite that is smoky and earthy. This is the one spice you cannot skip when making chai at home.
  • Cloves. Some might consider cloves optional, but they work so well with the other spices here, playing up the sweetness of cinnamon and the spice of the black pepper while perfuming the whole pot of tea.
  • CinnamonCinnamon is one of the sweeter spices used for flavoring chai.
  • Ginger. This will flavor the tea with a fresher spice note.
  • Black Peppercorns. This everyday spice cannot be skipped when making chai; it gives the brew the heat that blooms on the back of our throats and balances the chai’s sweetness.

Other spices also include star anise, fennel seeds, nutmeg, honey, and other spices. In the Western world, it is also common to replace or complement the cinnamon and clove with allspice powder.

The Best Tea for Making Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies

To make these cookies, I usually prefer using masala chai loose leaf tea. The loose leaf tea tastes much more flavorful and smells more aromatic. I usually don’t bother with making them by myself because the spices can be pretty expensive when you buy them separately, especially if they are sold in bulk. 

If you are not planning to buy or make the loose leaf tea, you can alternatively make your own blend with ground spices. They are usually sold in small bottles, which are pretty convenient to use as you will need just a little for each spice. 

masala chai shortbread cookies
masala chai shortbread cookies

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masala chai shortbread cookies
4.5 from 2 votes

Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies

These Masala Chai Shortbread Cookies are speckled with aromatic ground masala chai tea. The spices will instantly warm you, so they are gonna be a perfect treat for a cold day.
Author: Jaja Bakes
Course: Dessert, Snack
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 35 cookies
Tap or hover to scale!
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time35 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup (150 gr) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (60 gr) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (180 gr) cake flour/all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp masala chai loose leaf tea

If making your own masala chai mix

Instructions

  • In a food processor, pulse together the flour, masala chai loose leaf tea or masala chai mix, and salt until the tea is spotted throughout the flour. Set aside.
  • Using a hand mixer or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, confectioners sugar, and vanilla extract until incorporated.
  • Scrape the bowl down and sift in the dry ingredients. Mix with a spatula until the dough starts to come together. It will look crumbly at first, but the dough will come together as you continue mixing.
  • Shape the dough into a cylinder, about 1.5-inch/4 cm in diameter.
  • Wrap in parchment paper or plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator until firm, at least 2 hours.
  • Preheat oven to 350F/180°C and line two baking pans with parchment papers.
  • Slice the log into a 1/8 to 1/4-inch or about 3-5mm thick with a sharp knife. Arrange the slices on the baking pan, spacing 1-inch apart.
  • Bake for 13-15 minutes or until the bottom edges of the cookies are golden brown in color. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through for even baking.
  • Transfer to a wire sheet to cool completely.

Notes

I recommend using masala chai loose leaf tea for flavorful and aromatic cookies. If you don't have it, you can make your own mix with ground spices.
Use cake flour for light, crisp, and tender cookies. Use all-purpose flour for softer and chewier cookies.
You can chill the cookie log, covered, for up to 3 days in the refrigerator.
If you plan to freeze, roll and slice the dough. Place the slices on a parchment paper-lined baking pan and freeze for 1-2 hours. Store the frozen slices in a plastic ziplock and freeze for up to 3 months. Make sure to bake a few minutes longer for frozen cookies.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cookie | Calories: 59kcal | Carbohydrates: 6g | Protein: 1g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 9mg | Sodium: 34mg | Potassium: 8mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 0.01mg | Calcium: 3mg | Iron: 0.3mg
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