Something Different – More Thoughts on Tea-flavoured Shortbread

Posted: 19/05/2013 in Cooking Break!
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So, a little while ago I posted my recipe for earl grey and lavender shortbread.  I’d been looking for ways to incorporate tea flavour into my baking for a while – infusing tea into milk worked fine for cakes, but resulted in either too little tea flavour or too moist a dough for biscuits.  Melting butter, steeping teabags in it, then cooling the butter before use was messy, often scorched the tea and greatly increased the time needed to create the biscuits, since butter sometimes takes what seems an unreasonably long amount of time to set.  I considered infusing tea into rich milk and cream, and then churning my own butter, as a way to combine the benefits of infused milk with the drier dough of infused butter, but that would take even longer than the melting method, although I will try that at some point.

It was quite a lot of googling and plotting and experimenting before it occurred to me to just dump the contents of the teabag into the mixing bowl with everything else.  Of course, it works best with teabags that contain well-ground tea, and it’s worth giving the contents a quick whiz in the blender just in case.  I’ve since wondered – lavender sugar is easy to make by simply crumbling lavender flowers into a jar of sugar and letting the flavour infuse.  Violet sugar works the same way.  Could the same be done with tea?  Could I make an earl grey sugar to add to baking, thereby avoiding the need to ever worry about infused butters and milks ever again?

My experimental jar won’t be ready to test for another couple of weeks, but watch this space!

In the meantime, the revelation regarding emptying the teabags into the mix has made me wonder – is there any reason I can’t do that with other teas?  Today I made a simple, plain vanilla shortbread dough, but enhanced it by emptying the contents of four rosehip and hibiscus herbal teabags into it.  The resulting biscuits have the sharp tartness of the rosehips, and the fruity edge of hibuscus.  I think I need to adjust the amounts, and I definitely need to add more sugar to counteract the sourness, but the result is pretty good!  Some shortbread additions to try next:

  • fennel tea
  • liquorice tea
  • ginger tea
  • chamomile tea

What’re your favourite herbal teas?  Got any that’d make a good addition to shortbread?  Let me know in the comments!

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