For the last couple of years, I have had the pleasure of getting together with my foodie friends, Josh, Pina and Clarissa, to collaborate on a cookie box for the holidays. Unfortunately we weren’t able to collaborate this year because of Covid. It has been such a challenging year for me that I have had very little free time to post recipes on my blog, but I really wanted to make the time to do something fun and creative for the holidays. In order to keep things simple, I decided to use just one cookie dough recipe (with minor adaptations) to create this beautiful cookie box.
For this Christmas cookie box, I decided to go with a chai shortbread cookie recipe. It’s a lightly spiced shortbread cookie that is absolutely divine. You are going to love it. The dough is so versatile and super easy to work with. It’s the perfect cookie recipe for a one-dough cookie box. You can make make so many different cookies with this dough and they’re all unique and delicious.
The raspberry linzer cookie is probably my favorite cookie in the cookie box and one of my all time favorites. Jam and shortbread go so well together and the cookies are so pretty. They’re also a great excuse to eat two cookies at one time. 🙂 I also really like birds nest cookies. I chose not to roll the birds nest cookies in walnuts this time because I really wanted to try the embossed rolling pin that my sister-in-law, Pam, gave me, but I love walnuts in butter cookies.
This dough is also great for rolling. I made some Chai Cranberry Snowballs. It’s really easy to candy cranberries. Just put a dozen fresh cranberries in a non-stick pan on low heat. Then add a quarter cup of granulated sugar to the pan and roll the cranberries around until the sugar sticks to them – it’s so easy. They’re a bit tart, but they’re kind of fun. Just wrap some cookie dough around the candied cranberries and then roll them in icing sugar while they’re still a little warm after they come out of the oven.
You can also fill the dough with maraschino cherries. I didn’t have any on hand, so I used cocktail cherries instead. The cherry stems look elegant. I topped them with some crimson red glaze for a festive look. I’m really happy with how they turned out. To keep the balls consistent in size, you can use a tablespoon measure or a small ice cream scoop to portion the dough.
For the chocolate chai cookie variation, just add 3 tablespoons of unsweetened cocoa powder to the dry ingredients. You would be surprised how such a small amount of cocoa changes the flavor profile of the cookie dough. The texture doesn’t change too much. The chocolate flavor works really well with the spices. These chocolate chai balls are filled with a few mini chocolate chips and walnut pieces and then dipped in melted chocolate. To melt the chocolate, just microwave some chocolate chips for 3o seconds at a time and stir in between until the chocolate is smooth.
There are so many options with this cookie dough. You can dip the cookies in dark or white chocolate. You can cover them with glaze and add some sprinkles. You can fill them with jam, cherries or even cranberry sauce. You can roll them in icing sugar or walnut pieces. There are so many options.
Here’s the recipe. Have fun with it. Please let me know if you give this recipe a try by tagging me on Instagram or leave a comment here on the blog. I would love to see your creations. Happy holidays!
Lightly spiced shortbread cookies
- 1 cup softened unsalted butter
- 3/4 cup icing sugar
- 2 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 2 cups flour
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ground cardamom (see notes)
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp dry ginger powder
- 3/4 tsp loose chai tea (see notes)
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/8 tsp ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a large bowl or in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter, salt, icing sugar, sugar and vanilla until creamy.
In another bowl, combine the flour and the spices. Stir until incorporated. Then add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together.
Shape into a ball. Then divide the dough in two.
Roll out half of the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 1/3 of an inch thickness. To prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin, use plastic wrap to cover the dough before rolling.
Use a cookie cutter of your choice to shape the cookies.
You can reroll the cookie scraps.
Check the cookies at 15 minutes. They will take up to 18 minutes to cook depending on the size of the cookies and your oven. The bottoms of the cookies should be a light golden brown when they are ready.
Allow the cookies to cool. Once they've cooled, you can drizzle them with glaze if you like. Either way, they are going to taste great!
- You don’t need to purchase loose chai tea to make this recipe. You can just open up a quality chai tea bag and use the contents. If the tea leaves are especially long, you will want to mince them so that they can be evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough.
- If you don’t have all of the spices on hand, go ahead and make these cookies anyway. They will still taste great; they will just be a little less spicy. In fact, you can skip the chai spices all together and make the best shortbread cookie recipe out there.
- 1 tbsp lemon juice, milk or water
- 1/2 cup icing sugar
Whisk until smooth.
- For a thicker glaze, add more icing sugar one tablespoon at a time until you achieve your desired thickness.
- If you want to colour the glaze, add one or two drops of food colouring at a time until you achieve your desired colour.