Although I have been a staunch coffee drinker for about 20 years, this winter and spring I have started drinking tea in the afternoons and evenings. Where coffee invigorates and heightens me, tea centers and soothes. Perhaps this has something to do with my grandmother, who has always been the greatest lover of tea I know, and who has invariably had the same calming effect on me that tea does. There is something about the rattle and whistle of a kettle, the hot water soaking the tea leaves, the way a hot ceramic mug feels when clutched between two hands, and the fragrant steam of a steeping cup that altogether sets the world aright again.
Lately, my go-to afternoon beverage of choice has been a London Fog -- a homemade cup of floral Earl Grey, a splash of mellowing vanilla and a copious glug of cream. There hasn't been a day so far this month that I haven't enjoyed one. Those daily pick-me-ups are the inspiration for these delightfully chewy, crackly vanilla bean sugar cookies scented with Earl Grey tea leaves. They are subtle, beautiful and comforting the way lingering long over a cup of tea should be.
Earl Grey sugar cookies
Yields 2-3 dozen cookies
2 1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup salted butter, softened
1 1/4 cup sugar
3 egg yolks
1 vanilla bean, scraped
2 Earl Grey tea bags (about 1 tablespoon of loose Earl Grey tea)
1/4 cup coarse sparkle sugar or turbinado sugar, for rolling
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, stir together the flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder. Set aside. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar. Add the egg yolks, vanilla and the contents of the two Earl Grey tea bags, beating until smooth and scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Incorporate the flour mixture, mixing until just combined, being careful not to overmix.
Using a medium cookie scoop, portion out the cookies, rolling the dough into balls with your palms and then rolling the balls in coarse sugar. Place the cookies on the cookie sheet, allowing room for the cookies to spread out some. Bake the cookies for 11-13 minutes for soft and chewy cookies (longer for firmer, crunchier cookies).
Maya Wilson lives in Kenai and blogs about food at alaskafromscratch.com. Have a food question or recipe request? Email firstname.lastname@example.org and your inquiry may appear in a future column.