Confession: sugar cookies aren’t my favorite cookie. Probably not even in the top 10. Why? Most of the time sugar cookies don’t taste like anything and then they are loaded up with sickly sweet icing. Most of the time it’s a “no” from me. But if you add in a bunch of spices and make the best royal icing in the history of royal icing recipes, then I can start to see the value of a sugar cookie.
What I love about this time of year (in a normal pre-pandemic world) are the holiday cookie exchanges. You gather a bunch of people and everyone brings their favorite cookie. I’d literally go to these things and taste every single thing and fall in love. The most notable holiday cookie exchange MVP is the Double Biscoff Cookie. The Chai Sugar Cookie is also a cookie exchange MVP. I don’t remember exactly when it happened, all I know is that one of my husband’s coworkers made Chai Sugar Cookies for an office party and I fell in love. So much so that years later, she made them again for my baby shower.
This Chai Sugar Cookie recipe is not that recipe, because these Chai Sugar Cookies are softer and thicker, whereas those were thin and chewy. I need to send her a note, so I can compare notes, though.
I made a handful of cookie boxes for friends this year (nowhere near my usual output) and the unanimous feedback is that the Chai Sugar Cookies are the 2020 Cookie Box MVP. Someone called them the “Love Trees” and I haven’t laughed that hard in ages.
A word about chai
The recipe calls for chai spices, not a chai drink mix. Chai drink mixes often include other things, like sugar and/or dairy (or dairy alternatives), which will change the consistency of the cookie. Click here for the chai spice blend that I use.
Notes from the recipe:
- Buy the best butter you can afford. I put this here because I don’t always do that.
- Yes, this recipe requires chilling time. Yes, it’s worth it. Patience people! Chill for at least an hour. BUT I’ve noticed with the added spices, the longer the dough rests the deeper the flavor profile. The other benefit of chilling the dough is that your cookie will hold its shape when cut out.
- If you prefer thin crispy sugar cookies, roll the dough to ¼ inch thickness. If you like your sugar cookies thick, roll them to ½ inch thickness. If the cookies are thicker you will need to increase the baking time.
- Try to pick cookie cutters that are roughly the same size-- so that the cookies bake evenly .
About the Royal Icing:
I make the Stella Parks Royal Icing recipe, because it’s honestly the best royal icing I’ve ever had. That said, it’s more work than anything that involves meringue powder. It involves egg whites, silver rum, cream of tartar, cooking over a water bath and a mini upper body workout. My only adjustment is to use whatever powdered sugar I have in the pantry, which is almost never organic. Completely worth it.Print
Chai Sugar Cookies
If a Chai Latte were a cookie, it would be this one. A sugar cookie spiced with chai spices for a warm and cozy addition to a cookie plate.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 10 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ baking powder
- 1 tbsp chai spice mix
- 2 sticks (8oz) butter, softened
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- In a medium bowl combine the all purpose flour, salt, baking powder and chai spice mix. Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment mix the butter and sugar together until creamy.
- Add in the eggs and vanilla extract and mix on medium speed until blended completely.
- Turn the mixer off and pour in the flour mixture. Stir on low speed until the dough forms.
- Divide the dough in half , forming a disk on two pieces of plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour, up to 4 days.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line two large cookie sheets with parchment paper
- Dust your workspace with flour and roll the cookie dough to desired thickness (see notes below). Cut out the cookies using your favorite cutters. Try to use cutter that are the same size for even baking.
- Bake until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges. (9-12 minutes) Rotate the cookie sheet halfway through baking.
- Cool on cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire cooling rack.
- Once the cookies are cooled, decorate using royal icing, melted chocolate, candy melts and/or sprinkles.
- Chill the dough for at least an hour. Patience is a virtue!
- Choose cookie cutters that are similar size to ensure even baking (smaller cookies may need to less time than large ones).
- Decide on preferred thickness of the cookies:
- thin cookies roll to 1/4 inch and bake for a shorter period of time
- thick cookies roll to 1/2 inch (or more) and bake a little longer