How do you turn a normal, traditional recipe into something a little more interesting? You infuse it with tea! And these tea-infused shortbread are an easy and delicious example of this in action.
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Taste: Much-needed 100% mom fuel – coffee and chocolate
Ease: Even with distractions and “helpers”
Pros: They’re not for the kids
Cons: Trying to decide whether it is worth freezing any really
Again: We’re in the middle of a pandemic. Of course! Regularly!
I probably shouldn’t be sharing this recipe
We have a family shortbread recipe.
Most of my Mum’s side of the family were originally from Scotland, mostly from a place called Jedburgh near the English border. This shortbread recipe comes from that branch of our family tree.
It was passed on to me by my Grandma, who got it from my great, great aunt, Aunty Margaret, who got it from relatives in Scotland. This is the good shortbread, which was only made for special occasions.
I possibly shouldn’t be sharing it here on the blog. My Grandma always half-joked that this was the secret family recipe and I shouldn’t just give it out for threat of punishment. But she was always only half-joking, at least while Aunty Margaret was alive.
Now they have both passed.
I decided it was the perfect recipe to showcase another way to use tea in a recipe. Thus, this tea-infused shortbread.
How to use tea in a recipe
This tea-infused shortbread recipe showcases another way to use tea in a recipe.
The use of tea in a recipe will depends on the type of tea, but it’s actually very versatile.
We’ve used it so far to flavour sugar syrup in sorbet and caramel and as a glaze in cake. We have used it as a mixer in drinks – albeit warm ones. We used it as a marinade for meat. We’ve also infused milk and cream and used it in cupcakes and desserts.
We are still planning to use it as a stock, a spice, for poaching, and even to smoke some chicken.
But today, we’re using it to infuse butter.
You can do this with almost any recipe, though we would recommend one that is fairly plain, so that the tea taste shines through.
We used Twinings berry Infusion (which has a hibiscus base) for our tea-infused shortbread, but you could use any fruit tea. Any of Fortnum & Mason’s tea infusions would be wonderful. Earl Grey tea is great with shortbread too. Mint tea-infused butter could be great with chocolate chips for a mint choc-chip cookie. Rooibos tea could help ensure that a caramel cookie is not sickeningly sweet: it worked for our caramel sauce. Black tea (e.g. Assam or Darjeerling) or chai with the right spices would make a wonderful chai cookie.
As an added bonus, our choice of tea meant that our house was also infused with the smell of ripe berries for more than a day.
Tips for the perfect tea-infused shortbread
There are very few tips for this recipe.
My Grandma was a slap-dash cook and baker. She is the only person I know who managed to make rock scones of our featherlight scones. Yet her shortbread were always perfect.
How much tea you will need depends on how strong you want the tea taste to be and the strength of the tea. I wanted a subtle taste and the tea was fairly strong. Five teabags was perfect.
I would recommend trying a hot cup of the tea you intend to use before you decide how much tea you need for the infused butter.
I would not recommend using cold-brew tea for this recipe.
It does not matter if it is loose tea or tea bags. If using tea bags, cut the bags open (discarding the bags), so that you can ensure that the tea is infused more evenly into the butter. If you are planning to leave the tea in the bags (which will become quite slimy), use a couple more than you first intended.
We had some reusable fine-net produce bags from our supermarket that were perfect for straining the tea-infused butter. If you don’t have something similar, use a tea towel. Just make sure it is an old one as the tea will stain.
Squeeze all the butter out of the bag. Depending on the tea you are using, you might want to wear gloves while you squeeze as it might stain your hands.
You can use any cookie cutter you like. Miss M chose hearts because the dough was a pale pink colour (which you can still just see). Valentine’s Day is around the corner too…
Storing these tea-infused shortbread
My Grandma didn’t do anything special to store her shortbread. She made them so infrequently that they were always gone very quickly.
I don’t know whether there is any scientific reason to store biscuits this way, but I have always trusted the methods of the prolific baker in this respect, including for these tea-infused shortbread.
- Fine mesh bag
- small bowl
- hand mixer
- baking paper
- 250 g butter
- 5 tea bags
- 125 g caster sugar
- 125 g rice flour
- 250 g plain flour
- 50 g white chocolate to decorate (optional)
- To make the tea infused butter: Put the butter in the saucepan on medium-high heat. When the butter starts to melt, add the tea leaves. Stir. When the butter is hot and has all melted, remove from the heat and allow the tea to steep for about 10 minutes.
- Open the fine-mesh bag over a small bowl and pour the butter through the bag into the bowl to strain. Carefully squeeze the rest of the tea-infused butter out of the bag. Put the bowl aside to cool completely, then refrigerate the butter overnight or until it "hardens" to normal butter consistency.
- Remove the butter from the oven to soften a little. Preheat the oven to 180°c. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
- Pour the butter and sugar in a mixing bowl and beat with a hand-held mixer on medium speed until the butter and sugar have formed a creamy pale mixture. Add the flours and mix well until well combined.
- Flour your work surface and rolling pin and roll out the dough until it is an even height. Cut out the shortbreads using your favourite cookie cutter and place on the trays.
- Bake for 10-12 minutes or until your shortbread are just starting to turn golden on the edges. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
- (Optional) Melt the white chocolate using our favourite method and drizzle a little over each shortbread.
Make your recipe something special with a simple tea infusion
This tea-infused shortbread is an easy and delicious example of how to use your favourite tea in a recipe. You can adapt it depending on the tea you wish to use and employ the technique in other recipes too.