Chai is a seasonal flavor we begin to crave as the air cools and the leaves begin to turn.
Associated with warmth and seasonal goodness, we most often think of chai as a favorite tea served at familiar coffee or tea houses.
Yet the flavor we associate with “chai” is actually something quite different.
“Chai” actually means any and all kinds of tea in India.
Chai tea, the delicious blend of spices combined with warm milk and tea we all love, is actually known as Masala Chai in its native India.
Masala Chai is sold at India’s street markets by chai wallahs, whose recipes are their own unique blend.
And while the recipes vary from region to region, vendor to vendor, some heady spices remain constant. Green cardamom, one of the most expensive spices next to saffron, is a common spice in masala blends as well as ginger, cinnamon, star anise, fennel seeds, peppercorn, nutmeg, and cloves.
But you don’t have to travel to India to enjoy this addictive flavor, and it isn’t confined only to tea.
These sliced icebox cookies embody the seasonal spicy flavor we love, and are easy to make and store.
In fact, make a double batch and freeze the dough. And when the mood strikes or unexpected company shows up at your door, they’re easy to pop in the oven.
Perfect to make ahead and freeze for the holidays. They can be kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months (thaw before slicing and baking).
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature
3/4 cup sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cardamom
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
Dash -1/8 teaspoon of ground cloves
Dash of finely ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Using an electric miser, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla. With mixer on low, add flour and spices through black pepper; mix just until combined. Wrap in wax paper; chill until firm, about 1 hour.
Unwrap chilled log, and place on a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, slice into 1/4-inch-thick rounds.
Place rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets, 1 inch apart. Bake until pale golden, 13 to 15 minutes.