i used to walk among the fragrant flowering plum trees that gracefully line my driveway, savoring their aroma and admiring delicate blossoms.
i used to wait with anticipation for the breathtaking tulip fields to set the northwest Washington countryside ablaze with color. i used to welcome spring by grilling fresh, thin asparagus and wild King Salmon, chased by a dense shortcake topped with the season’s first juicy strawberries.
i used to be a person of moderation, content—even happy—to consume small bites.
now there’s nothing. nothing but the intoxicating scent. the buttery, spicy flavor. the chewy, rich, dense texture. i can’t sleep. i can’t stay out of the kitchen, where they’re neatly tucked in an airtight container. i’m addicted. addicted to the most insanely incredible cookies i’ve ever eaten. my ordinarily disciplined existence? completely gone. forever. immense pleasure permeates my entire being. move over Lay’s potato chips: chewy chai-spice sugar cookies give new meaning to no one can eat just one. bake at your own risk.
Chewy Chai-Spice Sugar Cookies
a slight variation on a recipe from Cook’s Illustrated
makes 24 cookies (that’s 1/hour, if you exercise restraint)
INGREDIENTS i use all organic ingredients in these babies
2 1/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 heaping teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 1/3 cup for rolling
1/4 heaping teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamon
1/4 heaping teaspoon ground cloves
2 grinds (a generous pinch) black pepper
2 ounces cream cheese, cut into 8 pieces
6 tablespoons butter, melted and still warm
1/3 cup vegetable oil (i use sunflower oil)
1 large egg
1 tablespoon milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
preheat oven to 350.
line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
in a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
in a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and pepper.
pour warm butter over ingredients, and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain).
whisk in oil until incorporated.
add egg, milk and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth.
add flour mixture, then mix all ingredients with a rubber spatula until a soft, homogenous dough forms.
place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar on a plate.
form the dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each.
with your hands, roll each piece into a ball (should be about the size of a mutant/large walnut).
roll each ball in the plated sugar, then evenly space on the baking sheets.
using the bottom of a drinking glass (or in my case, my hand), flatten the dough balls until they’re each 2 inches in diameter.
sprinkle tops evenly with sugar.
bake, one sheet at a time, for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating after the first 7 minutes.
edges should be set and just beginning to brown. (i actually take them out before the browning phase.)
cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes.
transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.