One of the many pleasures of visiting my in-laws is having unlimited access to the endless supply of cookbooks and cooking magazines that my mother-in-law Loveta has collected. Over the Christmas break, I became slightly obsessed with her copies of Southern Living. I recently discovered that my mom’s buttermilk biscuit recipe came not from my grandmother’s family, as I had long thought, but from one of my grandmother’s Southern Living magazines. If Southern Living could provide a recipe that had my husband waxing rhapsodic about biscuits for days, then what else might I discover amongst its pages?
With the holidays in full force, I pored over the special “Best Holiday Desserts” edition of the magazine from a few years back. Loveta served the Caramel Italian Creme Cake from that edition with our Christmas feast, and it was a work of art in both taste and looks. I earmarked enough recipes from that magazine alone to last me through the next ten years of holiday baking.
After a week in Menard, John and I returned home stuffed beyond reason. Yet upon opening our refrigerator at home, I spied a bottle of eggnog and immediately made plans to make up a batch of the Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies that had caught my eye in “Best Holiday Desserts.” Despite it being January 1, my holiday baking apparently wasn’t over.
I initially planned to send the bulk of the cookies with John to work for his UIL kiddos. Inspired by Loveta, who regularly bakes for a group of Junior Gardeners in Menard, last fall I began to make up a weekly batch of treats for John’s academic UIL students that he coaches and mentors. Sadly, John and I were greedy and gobbled up the majority of the first batch of cookies. They were that good. 4.5 star good. The eggnog flavor was just enough to be noticeable but not so much as to be overwhelming. The chai tea leaves added warmth and spice, and the icing on top elevated the cookies up a notch into Wow territory (icing makes everything better, doesn’t it?).
After we inhaled the first batch of cookies, I had to make a second round for his students, which I did last week. This next time around, I made up 1½ batches of icing. I love icing, and I like to be generous with it when topping baked goods. I had to stretch the single batch to cover all of the cookies on the first go-round, so I found the 1½ amount to be just right.
Chai Tea Eggnog Cookies
1 chai tea bag (I used Tazo Chai Organic Black Tea)
1 (17.5-oz) package sugar cookie mix (I used Betty Crocker Sugar Cookie Mix)
½ cup melted butter
1 large egg
4 TB eggnog, divided (I used Promised Land Old-Fashioned Egg Nog)
1 cup powdered sugar
½ tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
2. Remove tea leaves from tea bag; discard bag. Stir together tea leaves, cookie mix, butter, egg, and 2 TB eggnog until well blended.
3. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls onto parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Flatten dough slightly with bottom of a glass dipped in cinnamon sugar.
4. Bake at 350°F for 8-10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack, and cool completely (about 10 minutes).
5. Whisk together powdered sugar, nutmeg, and remaining 2 TB eggnog until smooth. Spoon over cooled cookies.
Yield: about 2 dozen cookies