This time of year always finds me craving spicy goodness in every form. From chai and spiced cider; to creamy pumpkin pie and orange pomanders dotted with cloves; the chill in the air just seems to beg for the aromas of cinnamon, clove, ginger, and cardamom. When Justina mentioned she also had chai on the brain, combined with the arrival of the holidays, it seemed a buttery shortbread was an ideal partner for all the lovely spices we usually enjoy in chai form.
3/4 pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 1/2 c flour
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground clove
1/8 tsp dried ginger
1/8 tsp ground cardamom
Sugar for sprinkling (I used sanding sugar)
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until combined. Add the vanilla.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, salt and spices. Add to the butter mixture. Mix until a dough starts to come together. Take care not to over mix- dough will have a slightly sandy texture. Turn dough out onto a surface dusted with flour and roll into a flat disc about 1/2 an inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes. While dough chills, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Once chilled, return dough to floured surface and reshape disc as needed. Cut out shapes with a cookie cutter (I used a 3 inch crescent moon shape). Place cookies on an un-greased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. If dough has gotten warm while you’ve been cutting your shapes out, chill the baking sheet with the cookies on it for about 10 minutes to ensure your shapes will have sharper edges.
Bake for 14-18 minutes, until edges just begin to turn a golden brown. Cool to room temperature.
Shortbread is one of the easiest cookies and the dough can even be made ahead of time and baked as needed. The slightest bite from the spices in these cookies make them a great pair with black tea or even a little eggnog.