I know it’s almost Christmas but these tea bag biscuits are so lovely they’re now the main recipe! And the Christmas cookies are thrown in (delicately) because they’re made with the same dough but more butter. I’m not usually a biscuit person but recently batches have been regularly emerging from the oven into my sealed glass jars and I’m really enjoying having them around! The masala chai biscuits didn’t make it into a jar but straight to the stomach so they’re definitely worth sharing with you (virtually, sorry). Luckily I made them all with a combination of optional healthier alternatives: pure maple syrup and xylitol sugar substitute with glutenfree flour. So they’re quite handy for the ‘eat slightly better now because later I’m feasting’ run-up to Christmas. A little ground masala tea is added and after baking they’re dipped in milk or dark chocolate. The extra work shaping and decorating with labels is rather therapeutic especially if you enjoy crafts or doing something with your hands in front of your favourite Netflix series. So you’re invited to a cuppa for a pretty teatime with these masala tea bag biscuits dipped in chocolate! 🙂
Or if you prefer a simpler life and biscuit there are Christmas cookies made with the same dough, flavoured only with vanilla and cinammon. Also delicious.
Use good-quality tea and add it to taste. I opened up a tea bag and ground some with a pestle and mortar. If you’d like to know more about masala chai you can read about the history, health benefits and spices in this black tea on my Masala chai, raspberry and pistachio layer cake post. And now for the biscuits…!
These French butter shortbreads are based on Pfeiffer’s Christmas sablés in his book The Art of French Pastry. They’re a special regional Christmas treat in Alsace, Northern France where he’s from. He explains the ground almonds contribute a nutty flavour to the dough and the butter is what makes the biscuits so flaky. They can be hung on the Christmas tree. Before baking make a hole with the end of a chopstick then once baked thread a ribbon through the hole and hang up. The biscuits I originally made with the full amount of butter are difficult to roll out and break quite easily so be careful or use the lower quantity of butter I suggest. Sable is French for ‘sand’ by the way, to give you an idea of the friable crumbly nature of these yummy treats. I imagine the glutenfree flour also makes them delicate so you might find them less so with the plain all-purpose flour in the original recipe. You can also use caster (superfine) sugar to replace the maple syrup and xylitol.
The masala chai tea bag biscuits have only 75% of the butter in the original recipe. They’re still very buttery and yummy but easier to roll out, handle and less breakable. The milk chocolate adds that touch of creaminess found in chai lattes! Dark chocolate would also be delicious I’m sure. I noticed most tea bag biscuits online are paler. I’m quite attached to a golden biscuit that’s doubly-brushed with eggwash but you can omit the egg wash and have a pale shortbread if you prefer. You could also folllow your own favourite shortbread recipe instead or use Christmas spices to make Christmas tea biscuits!
Makes around 40 to 48 tea bags (4.5cm/1.75in wide x 5.8cm/2.3in high, with 2 top corners cut off)
Make the dough the night before baking (or at least 4 hours)
- 150g/3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons gluten-free self-raising flour (I use Doves Farm – self-raising because it has a better structure than the plain) or 150g/1 and 1/5 cups standard plain all-purpose flour
- 50g/6 tablespoons ground almonds (almond flour) – replace with 50g flour if you have a nut allergy
- 1g/1/4 to 1/2 tsp, to taste ground cinammon
- 1/4 tsp ground masala chai (extracted from a tea bag), to taste (or 1/4 tsp fine sea salt for typical Alsace Christmas cookies. Alternatively 1/4 tsp Christmas spices). Note: I found masala chai and salt seem to clash so use one or the other.
- 75g/1/3 cup good-quality unsalted butter (up to 100g for even more buttery Christmas cookies)
- 20g/ml beaten egg (1/3 of a medium-large egg)
- 5g/1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- 40g/2 tbsp pure maple syrup
- 30g/2 tbsp + 1 tsp ground xylitol (or unrefined caster sugar)
- about 400g/14oz milk or dark chocolate
Shaping and baking the biscuits
- tea bag template cut in thin cardboard
- egg wash: 50g beaten egg (1 small-medium egg) + 1 tsp (5g) cream or milk + small pinch of salt – whisk together then strain through a sieve (Alternative: use only beaten egg for a lighter but less even glaze, as for my Christmas cookies).
- chopstick or something to make a hole
- the dark or milk chocolate (probably about 400g/14oz), melted and tempered if possible (dark tempers and solidifies more easily). Check here for information in my basics section on tempering chocolate using the ice-water method or tempering chocolate – spreading method. Temper to store out of the fridge at room temperature where they’ll keep a shiny and stable chocolate coating. Or as a lot of online bakers do simply melt the chocolate but place the biscuits in the fridge to harden (spread out so they don’t touch each other) and store or eat them quickly!
- some thin string in a neutral beige, white or pale colour
- some thin white or coloured card
- glue (sellotape is useful too)
Eating and storing
Eat as soon as you like! Pfeiffer says his shortbread biscuits can be stored up to a month in an airtight tin – mine are in sealed glass jars. If they’re in the fridge you’d probably want to eat them within a few days.
What’s been going on
Well been down with a rough flu since last weekend so feeling a bit sorry for myself … snif snif! But now getting better… 🙂 Haven’t been able to make it to work but it’s national holidays now. Yeeha! Kind of missing the little kids I teach who make me laugh – we do enjoy our songs, games and colouring. Instead I’m here on the sofa eating soups, reading, watching Netflix and starting to plan more baking projects! Yay! And it’s nice to have this online connection to the outside world and you guys! Again, yay!!
It’s Christmas soon, which is very exciting so you can easily use this cookie dough to make les bredeles – traditional Xmas biscuits in Alsace, eaten plain just as they are. I contemplated decorating mine with pretty white icing designs but my taste buds won’t let me – they don’t want the extra sweetness and are probably quite right! (thank you taste buds). You could also make tea bag biscuits with Christmas spices! In the meantime please have a masala chai tea bag biscuit for a special teatime treat! 🙂
Thanks for dropping in! Wishing you a lovely remainder of the week, weekend and run-up to Christmas! With some very merry test baking and eating! 🙂 Lili x