Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies

Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies

by SUSAN SPUNGEN

In case you’re wondering about the name of this cakey, chewy-edged cookie, which nearly explodes through its sugary crust, it’s a nod to a coffee bar creation in which a shot of espresso tops off a cup of masala chai, the Indian spiced tea. It’s right at home on a traditional holiday cookie plate, thanks to its festive cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. Feel free to add a little freshly grated nutmeg, if you’re so inclined. A strong coffee flavor adds nuance; black pepper lends a spicy kick; and malted milk powder, browned butter and brown sugar all contribute toasty warm notes to this craveable treat.

  • YIELD 2 dozen cookies
  • TIME 45 minutes, plus chilling

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon finely ground espresso (not instant espresso) or finely ground coffee
  • ½ cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2 cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons malted milk powder, such as Carnation brand
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • ¾ cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
  • ¼ cup/50 grams granulated sugar, for rolling
  • ½ cup/50 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for rolling

METHOD

  1. Put espresso or coffee in a small metal bowl. Put butter in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, swirling and stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until nutty brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl with the espresso and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the cookie.
  2. Combine the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.
  3. Combine eggs and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and slightly paler, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.
  4. Add the vanilla and the butter mixture, then mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture, then mix again on low until combined. Transfer dough to a resealable glass or plastic container, and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.
  5. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar into two separate bowls. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough into heaping tablespoons (about 25 grams each). Roll into smooth balls and drop a few at a time into the bowl of granulated sugar, rolling to coat. Transfer to the bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Roll gently, coating well, then transfer to a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Place in freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.
  6. Bake until cookies are golden underneath but still quite tender (they will firm up as they cool), 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.

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