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9 April 2011


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)

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


  1. preheat oven to 350.
  2. line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
  3. in a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt; set aside.
  4. in a large bowl, add 1 1/2 cups sugar, cream cheese, cinnamon, cardamon, cloves and pepper.
  5. pour warm butter over ingredients, and whisk to combine (some small lumps of cream cheese will remain).
  6. whisk in oil until incorporated.
  7. add egg, milk and vanilla; continue to whisk until smooth.
  8. add flour mixture, then mix all ingredients with a rubber spatula until a soft, homogenous dough forms.
  9. place the remaining 1/3 cup sugar on a plate.
  10. form the dough into 24 equal pieces, about 2 tablespoons each.
  11. with your hands, roll each piece into a ball (should be about the size of a mutant/large walnut).
  12. roll each ball in the plated sugar, then evenly space on the baking sheets.
  13. 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.
  14. sprinkle tops evenly with sugar.
  15. bake, one sheet at a time, for 11 to 13 minutes, rotating after the first 7 minutes.
  16. edges should be set and just beginning to brown. (i actually take them out before the browning phase.)
  17. cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes.
  18. transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Post a comment
  1. Elizabeth Erskine #
    April 10, 2011

    I think I know what I’m doing this afternoon! I am going to make these, and if I can, I’ll share them with my mother-in-law. She’s always making interesting flavored short bread and sugar cookies (rosemary, lemon, etc.)

    Mmmmm, mmmmm, mmmmm!

    • April 10, 2011

      looking forward to hearing how your Sunday afternoon baking turned out, e!

      • Elizabeth Erskine #
        April 14, 2011

        Hey there, dj. Second batch is out of the oven. I measured the flour, first using the King Arthur Flour recommended 4.25 oz/cup. Dough still looked too greasy, so I upped it to 5oz flour/cup. They’re delicious, but they don’t look at all like the picture. Can you weigh how much flour you used and let me know? (And you can just weigh the flour, you don’t actually have to make another batch. 😉 )

      • April 14, 2011

        well, dear, my scale batteries are about to die. but the 2 1/4 cups seem to convert to 9 oz. i’ve checked the recipe on the blog, and it maps to the recipe in my hard copy of Cook’s Illustrated. perhaps an adjustment for high altitude? i’m accustomed to Colorado baking at 9,300 feet, so somewhat at a loss. let m

        *endnote: corrected oil to 1/3 cup.

  2. Your ever loving sister!! #
    April 11, 2011

    Love this blog! My sister is back!!

  3. September 15, 2011

    These Chai-spice cookies are (were) amazing! My taste in desserts usually doesn’t allow for the overly-sweet, so the balance of the subtle spicy richness of the chai and the decadence of a sugar cookie is a winning combination, to my palette. They lasted all of 2-3 hours, at most!

    Keep the lovely recipes coming, Deb, I look forward to your next culinary update. Best to all!


    • dj #
      September 15, 2011

      thanks, TJ! it’s definitely a challenge to keep these cookies around. but that’s not a bad thing. more recipes on the way!

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