Earl grey is one of my favorite flavors to play around with. Not to mention, it goes well with so many flavor profiles, but especially with lemon! These earl grey shortbread cookies are buttery, lemony, and very aromatic. Because earl grey tea consists of bergamot, it pairs great with lemon! But if earl grey is not your cup of tea (haha, get it?), you can replace it with any tea of your choice.
The cookie base
Ever since developing the perfect shortbread cookie base that I used in my chocolate chunk shortbread cookie recipe, I just couldn’t wait to try it out with other flavor combinations. The cookie base varies from the typical shortbread cookie recipe in two ways: 1. I use salted butter, and 2. I combine white sugar and brown sugar.
Bakers typically avoid using salted butter in recipes because they like to control the amount of salt that goes into baked goods, and because different butter brands will have varying amounts of salt. I find that the salt level in most salted butters are fine with cookies, especially shortbread. Also, I think people tend to underestimate how much salt should be added in baked goods.
Some shortbread recipes would also call for either powdered sugar, or just plain white sugar. I prefer to combine white and brown sugars for cookies because it creates the perfect cookie texture, in my opinion. White sugar gives crispiness, while brown sugar adds a bit of tenderness.
Tools you’ll need
- 255 g (~1 cup) cold salted butter*, cut into little cubes
- 95 g (~1/2 cup) white sugar
- 60 g (~1/4 cup + 1 tbsp) brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 earl grey tea bags
- 320 g (~2 cups + 3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
- 1 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tbsp lemon juice
- zest from one lemon
- Beat the butter, sugars, and vanilla using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment on medium-high until light and floofy (at least 5 minutes).
- Take the earl grey tea out of the bags and add to the butter/sugar mixture and beat some more until it looks mixed enough.
- Scrape the side of the mixing bowl as needed. Put the mixer on low and slowly add the flour. Mix just until the flour is fully incorporated.
- Take the dough out and form into a log shape on top of a plastic wrap. Diameter should be about 2 - 2.5 inches.**
- Wrap it tight in the plastic! Put in the fridge to chill for 2 hours. (Yes, yes, I know.)
- About 10 minutes before the 2 hours are up, preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
- Take your dough out and slice into about 1/2-inch thick discs. If you have some that fall apart, just squish it back together.
- Place them on top of a parchment-lined baking sheet, about an inch apart. Bake for about 15 minutes or until the edges are golden brown.
- While the cookies are baking, mix the powdered sugar, lemon juice and zest until icing forms. If it's too thick and not drizzly enough, feel free to add a bit more juice until the desired consistency. Be careful with this though, you don't want to be too liquidy.
- Cool the cookies for at least 20 minutes before adding the drizzle.
*If you don't have salted butter on hand, you can use unsalted butter and just add 1/2 tsp of salt.
**If you want to be a little extra, or if you're a little OCD (like me) and want perfectly round discs that are all the same size, try rolling them out instead of using the log method. When you take your dough from the mixing bowl, instead of shaping it into a log, you can place it between two parchment papers and roll it until it's about 1/2-inch thick all throughout before chilling. Then once chilled, take a round cookie cutter (or a cup or glass or anything with a round opening about 2-2.5 inches in diameter) and cut out your discs that way.