The fragrant oil of bergamot, a variety of orange grown in Italy and France, gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive aroma. That same flavor (and a generous amount of lemon zest) perfumes these delicate sugar cookies. To increase the citrus flavor, drizzle the cooled cookies with lemon glaze.
4 1/2 cups flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 individual bags Earl Grey tea (or 2 tablespoons loose leaf tea), ground
1 cup sugar
Finely grated zest of 2 lemons
1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup buttermilk, divided use
Powdered sugar, for rolling dough
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. Dough: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt and loose tea leaves until combined.
3. Combine the sugar and lemon zest in a standing mixer bowl fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix the sugar and zest on low speed until the mixture is very aromatic and resembles wet sand. Add the butter and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes or until light and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla and 1/4 cup buttermilk, and mix on low speed until combined.
4. Add 2 1/2 cups of the flour mixture to the bowl and mix slowly, until just combined. Stir in remaining buttermilk, then add the remaining flour mixture and process just until the dry ingredients are absorbed. The dough should be smooth and supple (if too sticky, add an additional 1/4 cup flour).
5. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days in advance (if you chill the dough for an extended time, remove it from the fridge 30 minutes before rolling out the cookies, to soften).
6. Dust a work surface with powdered sugar, then roll out the dough 1/4 inch thick. Cut the cookies into rounds (or any shape desired) and use a thin spatula to transfer them to the prepared baking sheet.
7. Bake the cookies 10–12 minutes, until the edges start to turn golden. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
8. Lemon glaze: Whisk together ingredients until the mixture is smooth. Use a spoon, fork or pastry bag with a small tip to glaze the cookies. Store in an airtight container up to 1 week.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies.
To grind the tea, place it in a sealable plastic bag and use a rolling pin to break down the leaves.