Originally posted April 5, 2011. Updated 12/11/2020
Chai is one of my favourite flavour profiles... as you may have guessed, if you've had the chance to wander through this site a bit.
Back in my caking days, I was well known for my Chai Cake - it even landed me in Rachel Ray's magazine!
Remember back when I used to offer non-caffeinated baking mixes? This Chai Shortbread recipe was the basis for the Chai Shortbread cookie mixes! Absolutely delicious, and super easy to make.
How to Make Chai Shortbread
A note about shortbread: The secret to great shortbread is to NOT develop the gluten.
This is the reason for the cornstarch in the recipe - a "secret" ingredient for many families of shortbread makers. Cornstarch does not develop gluten.
Additionally, this is why you should be very careful not to over beat the mixture once the dry ingredients have been incorporated!
Much like how kneading bread dough is to develop the gluten - giving bread structure - over beating the mixture will do the same to these cookies.
In this case, you don't want developed protein, and strong structure - you want tender, flaky, melt-in-your-mouth shortbread - so Mix JUST until combined!
The fact that there isn't a lot of developed gluten is also why these cookies are incredibly delicate when warm, so be GENTLE handling them!
Holiday Cookie Recipes
Well, with the holidays coming up, it’s probably a good time to not only update this particular recipe, but to direct your attention to some other amazing holiday cookie recipes, as well.
After all, as great as these cookies are... a proper holiday tray should have a great selection of cookies. I love including a variety of flavours, colours, and textures.
This is both for visual appeal, and to try to make sure that there is something there for everyone.
Additionally, I like to recommend a few gluten-free cookies, as well.
Just be sure to keep your gluten-free offerings separated from the gluten cookies at all times - cross contamination can happen at any time, from raw ingredients all the way through to presentation!
So, before I get to this recipe, a few suggestions to accompany it:
Sweet Ecstasy Cookies - This recipe is ingredients-intensive and makes a TON ... so I usually only make it around the holidays. There’s a bit of everything in these, and they’re *wildly* popular whenever I make them!
Boozy Chocolate Haystack Cookies - This is a slightly more adult version of a childhood favourite. Use certified gluten-free oats to make these gluten-free!
Noelles - My version of a childhood favourite. Chocolate, coconut, and maraschino cherries make these a pretty - and tasty - holiday staple in our house!
Pecan Pie Cookies - Another one of the recipes that was SUPER popular back when I catered holiday trays. These unique cookies are not only full of flavour and texture, they’re gorgeous!
Spiced Oatmeal Raisin Cookies - A kicked up version of an old childhood favourite. I love what warm spices do with a traditional chewy oatmeal cookie.
Peppermint Swirl Meringue Cookies - These are actually inherently gluten-free, but I included them here because they’re also a mainstream favourite. A little effort to make, but super satisfying and festive!
Fruitcake Cookies - I may not be a fan of glaceed fruit, but those who are go WILD over these cookies. They’re laced with Jack Daniel’s, so that may have something to do with it, LOL!
Chewy Black Forest Cookies - a simple, elegant cookie with great flavour.
Share the Love!
Also, be sure to subscribe to my free monthly email newsletter, so you never miss out on any of my nonsense.
Well, the published nonsense, anyway!
- 1 cup room temperature butter unsalted
- ½ cup dark brown sugar packed
- 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 ¾ cups flour
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoon instant tea unflavored*
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon cloves
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- Cream butter, brown sugar, and vanilla together until well combined, smooth and fluffy. In a separate bowl, combine remaining ingredients.
- Gently add dry ingredients to creamed butter mixture, stirring until just combined. DO NOT overbeat! .
- Gather the dough together into a disk shape and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for about an hour
- Line cookie sheets with parchment paper, dust your work surface with a bit of flour, preheat oven to 350°.
- Roll chilled dough out to about ¼″ thick, cut into desired shapes. Carefully transfer cookie cut outs to baking pans, chill for another 10 minutes.
- Bake cookies for 8-12 minutes, or until lightly brown.
- Allow cookies to cool before transferring from cookie sheet – they are much more delicate when hot!