Before I fell hard and fast for Italy and discovered the joys of cappuccino, I was a confirmed tea drinker. Every single day for more years than I care to admit, I brewed up a cup or two of tea. At times I went the whole route and used loose tea and an infuser and maybe even a pretty porcelain teapot. More often than not it was just a teabag and a mug, and yet it was still a source of comfort and something I looked forward to.
For years I had a British penpal and when we finally met we talked for hours over endless cups of freshly brewed tea. I loved the way she offered tea at all times of day and have fond memories of sitting in her kitchen munching on a “biscuit” (cookie) and sipping hot tea.
Well, truth be told I have a great friend here in California who is probably more passionate about tea and the art of enjoying it than anyone I’ve ever met. She is my “go to” on everything concerning tea and what to serve with it. She has been working tirelessly on a book about tea and I’ve been lucky to test some recipes for her. I’ll let you know when her book is out, but for now I’ll give you a sneak peak of her classic shortbread recipe. Bet you can’t eat just one!
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar for srinkling on top
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
In a mixer using the paddle attachment, cream the butter until light. Add the confectioners’ sugar and cream along with the vanilla. Sift the flour and salt together, then gradually add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until blended.
Pour the dough onto a clean work surface and using your hands, pat to approximately 1/2″ thick. You can either bake this in a 9″ x 9″ pan or in mini muffin pans (which I did). Grease pan that you’re using and firmly press in dough. If using a muffin pan, use a 1 ounce scoop.
Firmly press dough into pan and prick surface with a fork. Sprinkle granulated sugar on top and bake for about 30 minutes, or until lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 10 minutes. Loosen the edges with a knife and invert onto a cooling rack. If using a pan (rather than muffin tin) place on cutting board and immediately cut shortbread into strips using a sharp, thin knife. If using muffin tin, gently remove from tin and let cool on rack. Yield: about 30 pieces
My thanks to L. for her tea wisdom and recipe and also to P., mother of my penpal who gave me this beautiful cup and saucer.