“Oh, how you shine…with your heart full of moonlight, and your soul full of stars.” – unknown
A thickly iced chocolate cake, a warm slice of banana bread, a stack of gooey brownies, a crisp but chewy cookie. Nothing makes me happier than a well-baked treat. Any of these treats in the middle of my table, accompanied by a big pot of milky tea and hands diving in from every angle is what I love best.
I haven’t met anyone who doesn’t like these Vanilla and Earl Grey Tea Cookies. They are a cookie crowd pleaser, loved by the old and young, both men and women. These cookies are one of my favourite in my baking repertoire, to both eat and prepare. They are the recipe I turn to if I’m craving an afternoon treat or bringing a plate of something to share with friends.
It’s a simple cookie, but the flavours are addicting enough to keep you wanting more. The cookie base is a good blend of all the things I love. Earl Grey. Vanilla. Cinnamon. Your favourite black tea could work equally as well here too; I’ve tried rooibos, darjeeling and even chai. Though, as Earl Grey is my personal favourite tea (I like to drink a cup a day) – it’s perfect. The slightly floral and smoky Earl Grey notes pair perfectly against the rich and buttery cookie base.
The cookies are made by processing tea leaves together with a whole vanilla bean pod and sugar. The overall flavour permeates so much more than simply infusing or steeping tea leaves into a liquid and then incorporating it into dough.
Make sure to use the freshest, plumpest and juicy vanilla bean you can find too – the quality really does make all the difference. The result is a flavour filled buttery cookie that’s riddled with texture. A cookie that’s crisp and crumbly on the outside, slightly soft in the center and has just that little bit extra warmth – not found in your average tea cookie.
They are simple enough to create, but still unique enough to leave quite the impression. I adore these cookies for both their unique texture and flavour characteristics. They work well any time of day, though I like them served in a big bowl, centered in the middle of my dining table – to be consumed and shared by all for afternoon tea.
- 2 tbsp. earl grey tea leaves, or preferred black tea
- ¼ cup caster sugar
- 1 whole vanilla bean, chopped into quarters and ends trimmed
- ½ tsp. ground cinnamon
- ¼ cup icing sugar
- 1 ¼ cup plain flour
- Pinch of sea salt
- 2 tsp. heavy cream
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- ½ cup butter, chopped and slightly softened
- Demerara or raw sugar for sprinkling
- Place the tea leaves in a small stainless steel fry-pan set over medium heat, shaking the pan to distribute the tea leaves into an even layer. Watch the leaves and stir them carefully as they can darken easily - toast them for about two minutes until the tea is fragrant. Place the toasted leaves in the bowl of a food processor to cool.
- Add the caster sugar and vanilla bean segments to the food processor bowl with the tea leaves and pulse to combine into a fine powder. Add the cinnamon, icing sugar, flour and sea salt and pulse to just combine. Finally add the cream, vanilla extract and butter and pulse to form a rough dough.
- Turn the dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap scattered with a handful of demerara sugar and roll it gently to coat the outside and form a log shape roughly 1 ½ inches / 3 ½ cm thick. Sprinkle the log with extra demerara or raw sugar to cover it entirely, and transfer it to a freezer for at least thirty minutes to chill.
- When ready to bake, pre-heat an oven to 170 C / 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Remove the log from the freezer and cut ⅓ inch / 1 cm slices off the log, rotating as you go to ensure the cookie shape remains round. Transfer the cookies to the prepared trays, leaving a couple of inches / centimetres between each – the cookies won’t spread that much but they do need their space to crisp. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until the edges are beginning to brown.
- Let the cookies cool on their sheets for 5 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for several days and the log can be kept in the freezer for a few months.