I read an interesting article a few weeks ago about food addiction. Extensive studies have been conducted with those little squeakers who threaten to take over the world – lab rats. After being fed a high-sugar diet, they were put on a sugar-free diet and the poor little rodents displayed withdrawal symptoms: shaking, sweating, possibly having little ratty hallucinations. The whole point of the exercise was to illustrate that there is a possibility that certain foodstuffs could be as addictive as, say, nicotine.
Now I would never compare my friends to rats, but I know someone who is without a doubt a raging addict – addicted to cardamom tea. If one vending machine has run out, she can be spotted sprinting from machine to machine feverishly pressing buttons, looking guilty as sin. As P.G. Wodehouse would describe it: “ “She spun round with a sort of guilty bound, like an adagio dancer while watering the cat’s milk”.
When Gillbean sent me this picture, I knew exactly what I would be contributing to the next episode of teatime in the office…
(This recipe is adapted from Sweet Beet and Green Bean – how cutesy is the blog name? Makes me sick).
For lots of teabags. Possibly 25-30. Requiring an equivalent number of cups of hot tea, in my opinion.
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of sugar
1/4 cup strong brewed black tea
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
Lots and lots of pre-prepared teabag tags (lots of free printables online – I chose a vintage vibe) double-sided-taped with some cotton – about 10cm per tag. Don’t use staples or glue that isn’t food-safe. Duh.
Mix together the sugar and butter – it will look like damp beach sand, with a few tiny globs in it. It’s all good. Oh, and don’t forget to preheat the oven to 180 degrees Celsius. Those cookies aren’t going to be baking themselves.
Mix the dry ingredients together in a separate bowl. Add the tea to the beach sand and attempt to beat the two together (it’s not going to mix – basic chemistry right there. But let me not get started on emulsifiers *pushes oversized glasses back up nose*). Add the dry goods bit by bit, while stirring, to form a nice firm roll-able dough; park it in the fridge for 15 minutes.
During the 15 minute intermission, find something rectangle-shaped, roughly the size of a teabag. Of course if you are quite posh and your name is Nigella, you will have a teabag-shaped cookie cutter at the ready. Whatevs. I repurposed a “bakkie” which contained edible cupcake decorations in it’s past incarnation. Which meant, of course, that I had to fiddle with a knife and cut two corners off of each rectangle to make teabags, but never mind that. Pinterest would be proud. If only I had figured out how to involve a “mason jar” in this.
Roll the dough out quite thin, about 3mm. Cut into teabag shapes, using whatever method best suits. Then (ooh it’s getting to the crafty bit!) poke a whole near the top of each teabag with a skewer or, in my case, a knitting needle. The 3.75mm needle worked quite well (*rubs liniment onto arthritic joints and adjusts hearing aid*). It’s very important that the hole is very clearly defined. You will see why later.
Bake for about 8 minutes; I’d say twos more rolls of the dough is OK but after that you’re going to be heading for tooth-cracking territory. Remove from the oven and inspect the holes – if any appear to have started closing, carefully give them another poke with the needle.
Once the cookies have cooled, thread the free end of your teabag tag through the hole and tie – not too tight or you’ll break the cookie. NEATLY stack them once you’ve assembled – do not just fling them into a pile, or you will be untangling those knots for several hours. I looped the thread round each cookie so that the tag sat flush against it. Possibly I should have done the chocolate-dipping thing but I’m no copycat. Plus I wasn’t sure that the cardamom had a loud enough presence for chocolate. Plus I had no chocolate.
VERY IMPORTANT: WARN YOUR COOKIE-MONSTERS THAT THEY CANNOT EAT THE TEABAG TAG!! Few things ruin a tea party faster than an asphyxiating person with a teabag tag protruding from their oesophagus.
Enjoy with a hot strong cuppa spicy chai :-).
Happy (belated) Birthday “Flasher”!