Chai Monsters, Siren Calls and other Spice Lore

I live with a bunch of Chai Monsters.  My mother is a Chai Monster, my father is a Chai Monster and even one of my best friends, Ryan, is a Chai Monster…and I suppose that’s it.  So, it’s really only three people, but their love is strong and I do my best to cater to their chai needs and desires.

I am currently back home (I hail from Cleveland) and satisfying all chai cravings while reunited with my Midwestern brethren (and also have access to my parents’ beautiful kitchen + ingredients).    So, a couple days ago I hit the experimental kitchen and made two different batches of Chai Tea Cookies.

The first was a simple shortbread-like cookie in which the original recipe called for Earl Grey, but I swapped-out the Earl Grey for Chai.   It is a trusted recipe that I’ve made before and a favorite of the chai crowd.    The dough is a quick mixture (of mostly butter), which is rolled into logs, frozen and then sliced into cookie rounds.  This batch of chai-satisfying treats came out flavorful, rich, pleasantly soft and sandy, as a shortbread cookie should be, and was overall very successful (if I do say so myself).  Not so much can be said for the second recipe…

For recipe number deux, I reinvented a Black and White Cookie base, supplementing any citrus or vanilla flavorings for various chai spices.  Although texturally and visually these cookies turned out beautifully, I went a tad astray with my seasoning.

Did you know that if you overindulge your dough with cardamom it will end up tasting like soap?  Had I first consulted my Food Lover’s Companion, I would have been reminded, “Be frugal with cardamom- A little goes a long way.”  But no, instead the spice titillated my nose with its infatuating and flirtatious aroma, beckoning me to add just a teaspoon more.  The temptation was far too alluring for my rookie impulses and just like a sailor with a siren I jumped in the sea.

On top of the Cardamom I added other chai spices including cinnamon, clove, ginger, nutmeg and a pinch of white pepper.  Still, the only prevalent flavor was l’essence de soap.   Even my last attempt to frost the cookies couldn’t save them.

So, with one successful cookie attempt and another failure, I fed my happy Chai Monsters with the shortbread cookies and discarded the others before any evidence could be found.   Throughout the process, I have learned a thing or two about seasoning (and impulse control) and feel ready reenter the kitchen armed with both my dash of cardamom and learning experiences at my side.

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