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a low-entropy state

Recipe: earl grey tea cookies

We had a wonderful upslope that delivered nearly a foot of fresh powder on the local hill and a half foot at the house. All of this WITHOUT WIND. That’s quite a feat for our area as the wind is almost always an ever-present menace. However, it was cold. I am talking *ass cold*.

that’s probably off a few degrees

Jeremy and I spent the morning skiing and enjoying all of that wonderful powder as it continued to rain down on everything. After a while it did get mighty chilly seeing as it was 6°F in the parking lot (that’s -14°C for the metric world).

kaweah checkin’ out the snow

riding up the mountain

I don’t know about you, but come December, I feel as if I need to be up to my elbows in sugar, flour, butter, and eggs. We don’t celebrate Christmas, but I make a concerted effort each year to send homemade goodies to certain people: staff, grad students, services, my doctors… to let them know they are appreciated. That means I casually spend the entire year auditioning recipes for the big distribution. I try to get a good cross section of flavors and textures.

earl grey tea and orange peel

And really, there is nothing more perfectly suited for a thank you gift than homemade cookies (or candies – but candy making makes me cuss… a lot). My problem is that I don’t like to repeat cookies from the previous year. While I’m sure plenty of people would be perfectly happy with chocolate chip cookies every year, I’m always looking to mix it up. I want to expand *my* arsenal of recipes and *their* exposure to new cookies.

butter, confectioner’s sugar, and orange peel start the dough

orange and creamy

Recently, I made a batch of Earl Grey tea cookies from Martha’s Cookies book. When Jeremy isn’t pumping dark roast coffee or espresso into his veins, he likes to sit back with a cup of Earl Grey… hot. (Ah Picard, you are like no other.) What a great idea to put the tea in the cookie!

mixing earl grey tea into the dry ingredients

The orange peel is supposed to enhance the bergamot oil in the tea. I used Twinings Earl Grey tea bags for the recipe, although I know that’s slumming it. What I should do is get my grubby little hands on some good British whole leaf Earl Grey and grind it up for the dough.

make a log of the dough

In general, anytime I make an Earl Grey flavored pastry or confection, it is always so subtle… weak. This cookie was no exception. It tastes more like orange than Earl Grey. I realize that orange and bergamot are very similar, but they aren’t the same. Any thoughts on how to up the Earl Greyness of a pastry? Should I just go for bergamot oil?

slice the dough for baking

Despite the weak presence of the Earl Grey, the cookie is very nicely orange and delicate. Perfect with tea or coffee. It will go on the holiday cookie list this year. I think I owe it to Jeremy to try the recipe again with some serious Earl Grey tea though…

eat the tea

Earl Grey Tea Cookies
[print recipe]
from Martha Stewart’s Cookies

2 cups flour
2 tbsps finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves (from about 4 bags)
1/2 tsp coarse salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp orange zest, finely grated

Whisk together flour, tea, and salt in a bowl. Beat together butter, confectioners’ sugar, and orange zest on medium speed until pale and fluffy (about 3 minutes). Reduce speed to low and gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined. Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper and shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter. Freeze until firm (1 hour). Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut logs into 1/4 inch thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment (I skip the parchment). Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Cookies can be stored in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 5 days. Makes 8 dozen.

43 nibbles at “a low-entropy state”

  1. Wandering Chopsticks says:

    Ooooooh, I love Earl Grey tea. I’ll happily take a batch of these every year. :)

    Actually, this inspires me to make Earl Grey tea and orange madeleines.

  2. Mrs Ergül says:

    Jen, I have tried this freezing the dough until firm then slice method. However, the circles always break before I finish slicing them… How do I get them nicely sliced like yours?

    On another note, baking cookies for friends and family has been on my mind when I think of what I should do for them this festive season :)

    You take care!

  3. Nekkutyttoe says:

    It looks so beautiful over there! I’m jealous of all the snow – we only had a blizzard and it all melted away after a few days, now it’s just on the verge of whether the stuff coming down snow or rain. Damned global warming…

    I was thinking, you could probably add taste to your cookies by preparing an Earl Gray syrup (kickass strong tea, sugar twice the amount of liquid, reduce reduce reduce) and using it like you’d use molasses. The texture will be different, but might be worth a try. :)

  4. Rosa says:

    What gorgeous snow pictures! Really peaceful looking…

    Those cookies must taste delightfully good!



  5. Graeme says:

    I love Earl Grey too. It smells liek Froot Loops. :-)

  6. Graeme says:

    Got a bit excited with my typing fingers.

  7. Margie says:

    Pretty nifty idea you have in your hands…..I’ve seen matcha cookies, but the Earl Grey adds a fun twist. Now my mind conjures up other notes of flavors galore.

    Bergamot? Jenzie, the only concern I would have is whether or not it might ‘trigger’ a migraine in an unsuspecting recipient. (Just a little note I learned back in my BAD headache days).

    Kisses to Miss K. I like her little snowy nose. Glad to hear you are sliding up and down on your beloved slopes. It’s windy as heck here and Miss H. and I are windblown severly after our daily jaunts.

  8. Bridget says:

    I’m drinking Earl Grey tea right now. The Republic of Tea is the best I’ve tried so far, but I’m not exactly a conniosseur.

  9. Ellie from Kitchen Caravan says:

    This recipe reminds me of a Black Pepper Lemon cookie I made a while back. I loved the spicy quality of the pepper, which paired perfectly with a hot cup of tea or coffee. I have a good friend coming into town soon who loves Earl Grey. I think I’ll have these ready for his arrival and maybe make a batch of the pepper lemon too.

    Thanks for sharing your beautiful snowy pictures. Here in California its still in the 60s, so I have a small pot of mulling spices on the stove to make it smell a little more wintery around here :)

  10. Whitney says:

    I bet those cookies smell amazing. It is also “ass-cold” here in Chicago. I don’t even want to go outside at all today. Good thing I have a law school take home final to keep me company ….

  11. Linda says:

    You could try mixing the tea into the butter mixture instead of the dry ingredients. The fat in the butter should help the bergamot flavour come out more since most of the flavour comes from the essential oils.

    I also read somewhere that in Indian cooking, cooks will “bloom” the spices by putting it into the fat mixture and refrigerating it overnight to help the flavours deepen. It would probably also work with the tea leaves. Whether or not the difference is worth waiting an extra evening is the question.

  12. jennywenny says:

    Its twinings all the way, and I was going to suggest some sort of infusion rather than the tea leaves themselves. Not sure whether you’d want to mix hot butter with them to infuse those as there isnt any other liquid in there.

  13. KKLL says:

    Real “Tea” cookies. This is a great idea. My friend markets custom tea blends out of her shop, Red Pineapple, in Honolulu, Hawaii. She gave me a sample of “Aunty Nalani’s Tahitian Tangerine Tea” which has Tahitian vanilla and tangerine (duh!!) in it. I made several batches of truffles with the tea infused in the cream. WOW, they turned out spectacular. Think I’ll give the cookies a try…TnT T-Cookies – Tahitian Vanilla & Tangering Tea Cookies. Will try to post results after I make them.

  14. Christina says:

    Orange and creamy, lol. Sorry, it reminded me of a Weird Al Yankovich song, white and nerdy… I know, I don’t know.

    These cookies look so pretty! I don’t have any earl grey, but I’m sure jasmine would work.

  15. peabody says:

    Woo Hoo look at that snow. I am jealous.
    Great idea for a cookie, perfect with tea indeed.

  16. Tartelette says:

    This cookie is going on my list! We love Earl Grey and this is all I have been drinking today with this stupid cold I have!

  17. Stephanie says:

    Love the Picard reference! I am making cookies this weekend, these are added to the list! Woohoo!

  18. Nate says:

    Jean Luc Picard single-handedly increased consumption of Earl Grey tea by 800%.

  19. marcie says:

    ooohhhh i can wait to try this with my earl grey tea! i get really good stuff from here and its super cheap!

  20. Mollie says:

    I am sooooooo behind on the baking front. In fact, it may be a very non-cookie holiday this year. However, these look fantastic. I LOVE earl gray tea. Been drinking it every morning!

  21. Tony says:

    now that I live in dc I miss the snow from ny bc at least I got to snowboard on it… here I just freeze.
    ps. have you try the chocolate espresso cookies from the fine cooking, cookie edition? those are on my to-bake list. I’m adding these cookies too, and I’ll also try to get my hands on some whole leaf earl grey. thanks for the heads up :)

  22. Manggy says:

    Have I ever told you how awesome it is that when I multi-click my Google Reader for a round of commenting, your blog is always the first to completely load? ;) I’m sure you’ll be very glad to hear that!
    Anyway, the cookies look lovely and the flavors, very mature :) I don’t cook with tea very much so I’m not sure what would work. Hopefully not more tea, it looks pretty studded as it is. A quick toss in a dry pan before adding to the butter? That should help to a) release the oils and b) disperse the oils in a good medium. Beat away until the butter is sufficiently tea-ized. Actually I dunno if it’s the oils that make tea tea. I suppose it would be, right? ;)

  23. Maja says:

    -14 degrees o_O … though i could cope with that if only it would snow here, two days of snow is just enough to make you say it’s not enough. :) I have become suspicious of snow, i don’t trust it anymore, it would always make me so happy to see the snow has covered everything and knowing we will be living in this quiet beauty for months to come, but in the last years all it did was melt right away, making me feel dissapointed … so when just yesterday we were driving through Germany and Austria back to Slovenia, where i’m from, and half of Germany and all of Austria that we passed was covered with snow, i looked at it with suspicion, saying to myself, don’t trust it, it won’t be here tomorrow … so i’ll take those ridiculously low temperatures and send some snow my way, too. :) That being said, i don’t know how i’d enhance the taste, i would try doing the earl grey syrup that somebody mentioned and use even more bags of tea for the dough. Then i wouldn’t know which did the trick, which would mean replicating the cookie, and i would go crazy doing my own butter, but washing it with cold earl grey tea instead of water and then putting some crunched tea leaves in and i’d put bags of tea in sugar and leave them there for a while, hoping i’d get earl grey scented sugar the way you get vanilla sugar, and then i’d use my earl grey sugar to make earl grey syrup, and use earl grey butter and more bags of earl grey and if that doesn’t work, nothing will and i’d give up. ;)

  24. jenyu says:

    WC – you know, folks either LOVE Earl Grey or they don’t. It’s really interesting :)

    Mrs E – I think having a thin and really sharp knife helps, but you also might want to let the dough thaw a few minutes so it isn’t as brittle?

    Nekkutyttoe – Thanks for the tip. Definitely worth experimenting with.

    Rosa – they’re quite nice and orange-y :)

    Graeme – hee hee, I guess that’s true, although I never thought of it like that!

    Margie – hmmm, Jeremy used to suffer migraines a lot as a kid. He drinks tons of Earl Grey now with no issues. It’s windy here too (as in 85 mph gusts at times), but it’s worth it to live near the mountains!

    Bridget – thanks, I’ll give those a try!

    Ellie – mmm, black pepper lemon sounds so awesome. I hope your friend enjoys the cookies and that you get more “seasonal” weather for the holidays :)

    Whitney – oh wow, you must hate the cold because I’d rather be out in the freezing cold than taking an exam!

    Linda – that is a brilliant idea. I may have to try that. Thanks!!

    Jennywenny – thanks, Linda suggested as much and I think that sounds like a good plan. Yes, Jeremy enjoys Twinings for his everyday drinking, although his mom once gave him a tin of Earl Grey from England which was *heavenly*

    KKLL – good luck with those.

    Christina – I still can’t tell if I could taste Earl Grey or just orange peel.

    Peabody – :)

    Tartelette – oh sweetie, I hope you are better now. Yes, when you try the recipe, let me know if you have some method for upping the Earl Greyness?

    Stephanie – Picard is awesome!

    Nate – ah ha ha! I just love to hear him say it.

    Marcie – oh, maybe I should try ordering some from them. Jeremy is the picky one, but I’m always searching for a better Earl Grey.

    Mollie – so many Earl Grey drinkers in our midst ;) Shall I send you some (cookies)?

    Tony – I didn’t get their cookie edition, but if you make them, do post on your blog! I’d love to see how they turn out.

    Mark – hee hee, call me quick draw! ;) I think I probably need to use better tea. They say tea bag tea is like floor sweepings and whole leaf tea is a completely different animal. Yes, I think the oils make the tea. I will mess around with the butter.

    Maja – I think infusing the butter might be the first thing I’ll try. Adding a syrup will change the texture. Thanks ;)

  25. HArry says:

    am wondering what butter is useed for when making cookie

  26. jenyu says:

    Harry – I use unsalted butter for all of my baking :)

  27. Tookie says:

    Hi Jen! I have stalked your site for the last year now so i figure it’s time i said it’s AWESOME and inspies me to get off my lazy ass after work and cook! I just made a double batch of the lime meltaways and there were a huge hit. As a matter of fact batch one mysteriously dissapeared…my boyfriend claims he was uninvolved but i am suspicious. Anyhow, my boyfriend and I both adore earl grey so i’m giving this recipe a go tonight :). Thanks for sharing your recipes, photos, and stories with all of us. Take care!!

  28. jenyu says:

    Tookie – well thanks! I’m glad you popped out to say hi! Hope you liked the recipe. Keep on baking! :)

  29. Lori says:

    Hello Jen, Twinings has a loose leaf, Lady Grey tea which is lovely for cookies .. like Earl Grey it is infused with bergamot but also has orange and lemon peel pieces and a lovely mix of pretty blue cornflower petals.. subtly attractive in the finished cookies! Enjoy! … just came across your site today- love how you show the prep process.. thanks for sharing

  30. jenyu says:

    Lori – what a lovely tip, thank you! :)

  31. KittyT says:

    Hello Jen. Thank you for all the ideas. I have made the cookies, with Twinnings, and I think the taste of bergamot is there, and the recipe is lovely.

    However if you’d like to still use teabags and get a stronger bergamot flavour, I suggest using Lipton’s Earl Grey (the one that comes in an individually wrapped bags box). The bergamot flavour is almost too overpowering to recommend it for infusing, but I have used it with the Twinnings (1/1 ratio) and it works well for the cookies. The bergamot taste pops up a little more with it.

  32. Mrs. R says:

    Your cookies look fabulous! I did go through the comments and hope I am not duplicating an idea… :)

    For upping the bergamot flavor, try using the double bergamot tea (Twinings??), and then I was also going to suggest blending it into the butter and letting it infuse… I use this same principle when making many of my handcrafted soaps!

    As to a *heavenly* English style Earl Gray tea… try Apparently we Americans like our flavors much stronger. The English do not use nearly as much bergamot flavoring as we do. Hmmm, I might even like THAT version of this tea. I do plan on ordering some for my husband who really like this tea and is intrigued by the Upton Tea description!
    ~Mrs. R

  33. Adelina says:

    Not sure if you need any additional tip for the Earl Grey tea but I once made Earl Grey madeleine cookies and the recipe asked to melt the butter on low heat then add the tea leaves to it and simmer for a minute. Then let the butter and the tea leaves infuse for about 10-15 minutes and strain the leaves. For the cookie, I guess you could allow this butter to become solidify again before using it to mix with other ingredients. This is just my idea for you to think about!

  34. pam says:

    what flour is used? is it self raising or plain flour?

  35. jenyu says:

    pam – it’s all purpose flour

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  37. Juanita says:

    I have made these cookies before, so speaking from experience, the reason why the tea flavor in your cookies was not as strong as you would have liked may have to do with the grade of tea that you used. As with all products involving tea you must always use a good grade of loose leaf tea or in a pinch bagged tea, otherwise the tea flavor will be very weak any may even have a bit of a bitter aftertaste. As for bagged tea Numi make a pretty good earl grey,although loose leaf tea is much more preferable. You can find a pretty nice one from which is where I get mine. The best one though is from this place located in my hometown called The Satori Tea Company (their website is of the same name). They’re a little more pricey than the other website but their tea is absolutely fantastic, although I’m not sure if they ship out of state.

  38. Cindy says:

    This is AWESOME ! Thanks so much for sharing :) I am a recently new Earl Grey lover… I just may substitute the orange zest with vanilla extract and see if I can get that true Earl Grey Tea flavor to come through… will let you know how it turns out ! AWESOME Pics !

  39. Cindy says:

    How many cookies did you say each batch makes ? I just might use this for my Cookie Exchange party ! :)

  40. jenyu says:

    Cindy – It makes about 8 dozen (according to the cookbook recipe).

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  43. Rebecca says:

    Try this recipe, I believe you will like it better.

    Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies

    Total Time: 57 min Prep: 15 min Inactive: 30 min Cook: 12 min Yield:2 doz Level:Easy

    2 cups all-purpose flour
    2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
    1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
    1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

    In a food processor, pulse together the flour, tea, and salt, until the tea is just spotted throughout the flour. Add the confectioners’ sugar, vanilla, and butter. Pulse together just until a dough is formed. Place dough on a sheet of plastic wrap, and roll into a log, about 2 1/2-inches in diameter. Tightly twist each end of wrap, and chill in refrigerator for 30 minutes.

    Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

    Slice the log into 1/3-inch thick disks. Place on parchment or silpat lined baking sheets, 2 inches apart (2 probably needed depending on size of sheets). Bake until the edges are just brown, about 12 minutes. Let cool on sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks and cool to room temperature.

    Recipe courtesy Claire Robinson

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