A recipe for rich, olive oil shortbread cookies flavored with black tea and orange zest, rolled in sugar or with an orange glaze drizzled over the top.
I cleared and wiped down the counter for the seventh time since waking up that morning, rinsing the washcloth under the scalding water and wringing it out. The dishwasher hummed to life, and on the stovetop pans, knives, cutting boards, and bowls dripped dry over the grated burners. The end of the day had come.
Without missing a beat, I reached over them and turned the oven on, pressing hard on the dying touchpad to get it to take. The oven asking, “Are you certain we’re going again?”
I ripped a piece of parchment to fit my favorite cookie sheet, set out the cooling rack, and retrieve the dough from earlier in the day. The freezer door sucks shut as I turned to meet a small face staring up at me, grey eyes open wide.
“What are you making, Mommy?” quips his innocent voice.
His impossibly long lashes spread even wider across his cherub face. “For me?”
“You can have one before bed if you help me with them.” Immediately he gallops over to the table, dragging the bench over to assist in cookie preparation. His tiny hands roll edges in sugar and lay them out on the baking sheet. We sit together on the couch reading while they bake, and then he hovers while they cool, eagerly anticipating this rare before-bed treat.
Each year I send my friend Mandi from Life Your Way a box of cookies for Christmas. This year, however, she had a baby, and when she’s nursing she doesn’t eat dairy. This means no butter and, subsequently, no cookies.
Rather than be defeated, I came up with a plan. It only took me a few weeks to see it through. Now she only has to wait for me to mail them (if I don’t eat all of them first). I did warn Magnus that he was going to have to share with his girlfriends in West Virginia.
I’ve done tea-spiked glaze on shortbread in the past, so for these shortbread I went with crushed tea leaves added directly to the dough. I used a Kusmi Tea blend with ceylon black tea that has notes of bergamot and citrus and added orange zest for a few bright notes. Any black tea with citrus notes will do here.
The dough pulls together with olive oil, resulting in a smooth, supple dough. It stays soft even after it is cold, so the easiest way to make shaped cookies is to freeze it for an hour to help firm it up. It should still have give as long as you don’t forget it in there overnight. If cut cookies aren’t your thing, this also works well docked and scored in a pan or in shortbread molds, and it holds shape wonderful while cooking with very minimal spread to the cookie.
Orange and Black Tea Olive Oil Shortbread Cookies
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1¾ cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon black tea leaves, crushed
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 orange, zested and juiced (about 4T)
- 1 cup olive oil
- In a medium bowl or stand mixer, add the flour, 1¼ cups powdered sugar, tea leaves, salt, and the orange zest and two tablespoons juice. Stir to combine.
- Slowly pour in the olive oil while stirring. Continue to stir until the olive oil is incorporated and a soft dough forms.
- Split the dough into two equal parts and roll into 2" thick logs. Wrap each log in a piece of parchment or wax paper. Place in the freezer and refrigerate for at least one hour.
- Preheat the oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
- Unwrap the logs of dough and slice ½" thick discs. Place the discs 2" apart on the baking sheet.
- Bake for 18 minutes until the bottoms are just turning golden.
- Remove the cookies from the oven and place on a baking rack to cool completely.
- Once the cookies have cooled, mix together the remaining powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon of the orange juice. Add more orange juice until a thick and smooth consistency is reached.
- Using a pastry bag or a small sandwich bag with one corner snipped, drizzle the icing over the cooled cookies. Allow to set before packaging.
- Makes 5 dozen cookies.