Thursday, April 26, 2012

Hibiscus Tea and Poppy Seed Shortbread


Last week I bought a tin of hibiscus tea, and the moment I looked into my first freshly brewed cup, I knew it was destined to be a star ingredient in something sweet!


I recently read that infusing loose tea with butter creates a strong flavor for use in baked goods. So, my first order of business - make hibiscus tea butter. It was so easy and turned out beautifully! It's hard to explain, but there was something very special about preparing the tea butter. I immediately wanted to use as much of it as possible. My first thought - shortbread.

As I mixed the magenta-hued butter into sugar and flour, I witnessed a magical color transformation from bright pink-red to purple. This kind of surprise is the best kind of surprise.


Now, in theory this steeping method should work with just about any tea, but I can only vouch for Republic of Tea's Natural Hibiscus Superflower in bags. Since I didn't purchase the loose tea, I just opened the tea bags and poured the contents into a 1/4 cup measure. I can't wait to try this method with an Earl Grey and varieties of my new favorite brand of tea- Kusmi.


A couple of happenings:
  • I'm so excited to be featured in Country Woman's "Blog and Crafter Spotlight". For those Country Woman Magazine subscribers, look for one of my recipes in their June/July issue.
  • Amazon is shipping my book early! Holy wow. So many people already have their copy and I've been receiving so many kind messages about it. I'm very grateful to those supporting my fun and unconventional baking book.

I really love the raspberry-rhubarb scent that the tea butter gave the cookie, and the poppy seeds give it a subtle texture.

These are very nice with... tea!

Hibiscus Tea & Poppy Seed Shortbread
Yield: Twenty four 3-inch cut-out cookies                                                                    [click for printable version]

First, make the hibiscus tea butter. 
(I first read about this method on Stefani Pollack's awesome blog "Cupcake Project")

1 pound, 8 tablespoons unsalted butter cut into pieces
¼ cup Republic of Tea Hibiscus Superflower tea (about 20 bags)
  1. Place butter in a medium saucepan over low heat.  When butter begins to melt and pool in the bottom of the saucepan, pour in the loose tea. Stir occasionally.  When butter is completely melted and mixture is hot, remove from heat source.  Allow the tea to steep for several minutes until it is a bright, red-pink.
  2. Place a large sieve over a bowl and line the sieve with a tea towel (one that you don’t mind getting stained).  Pour melted tea butter through the towel-lined sieve and let stand for a few minutes.  Gather the towel together at the top and squeeze out as much of the melted butter as possible (you may want to use gloves, as this tea will stain hands). 
  3. Place bowl of melted butter in the refrigerator until partially firm, then stir until the butter is a consistent color.  Cover and keep refrigerated until ready for use.  The shortbread cookie recipe requires one pound of tea butter, be sure to measure it out before you begin making the cookies.  You will have a small amount of tea butter left over. 
Make the cookies:
(adapted from the SprinkleBakes book!)
1 pound prepared hibiscus tea butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for rolling
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup poppy seeds plus extra for sprinkling
2-4 tablespoons cold water
  1. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and granulated sugar until fluffy.
  2. Add the confectioners’ sugar and beat until incorporated.
  3. Add the vanilla extract and mix again.
  4. Add 2 cups of the flour and salt and mix on low speed until crumbly. Add the remaining 2 cups of flour and mix again on low speed.  Stir in the poppy seeds on the lowest mixer setting. Mixture will be crumbly.  Add cold water 1 tablespoon at a time until a stiff dough forms.  Dough should not be sticky.
  5. Gather the dough together with your hands and place on parchment paper. Divide into two pieces. Roll each piece of dough between sheets of parchment until flattened to about a 1-inch thickness.
  6. Wrap the dough in plastic film and place the pieces on a cookie sheet or jelly roll pan. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. This dough will firm up quickly because of the high butter content.
  7. Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  8. While it’s still cold, roll out the dough to a ¼-inch thickness. If the dough is difficult to roll, let it stand at room temperature for a few minutes until it is pliable. Use rolling-pin guide bands for evenly rolled shortbread.
  9. Cut the dough into desired shapes and place them on cookie sheets spaced 1 ½ inches apart.  Sprinkle cut-outs with extra poppy seeds. Transfer the pans of cut-outs to the freezer and chill until frozen solid.  This will help the cut-outs keep their shape while baking.  Remove pans from freezer and bake until fragrant:
• 7 to 10 minutes for small cookies
• 12 to 15 minutes for medium cookies
• 17 to 20 minutes for large cookies



76 comments:

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar said...

Yum! This looks so fabulous!

Shannon said...

Oh wow! I lovee hibiscus tea, so I am sure this would be amazing

Tora said...

This is amazing, I feel like making butter with tea all over the place right now! Your images are so beautiful and decadent! Thank you for sharing. Incredible! (And that purple colour - a wonderful surprise!)

Cookbook Queen said...

This is beautiful! I love the way your mind works.

And Congratulations on the book, chickie!! I have no doubt it will be a huge success!!!

Velva said...

What a way to make butter talk to you....Its beautiful.

Velva

amanda @ fake ginger said...

So pretty! I love the color.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Those shortbreads are so original and pretty! A great chose of flavor. Hibiscus flowers have such a wonderful color.

Cheers,

Rosa

cookies and cups said...

I bought a similar tea a few weeks ago...why in the world didn't I think to bake with it?
You're pretty smart!

Heather said...

I LOVE using tea in sweets! This is such a great idea! Tea butter? I can't wait to try this!

Maria said...

Beautiful shortbread!

Laurie {Simply Scratch} said...

Ohhh I can only imagine how delicious these must be! Love!

Elizabeth said...

I've always loved making pink lemonade with hibiscus tea, but never thought to use it in baking! These look simply lovely. (As do all your creations, of course—I've been a long-time lurker.)

Dana said...

Do you really get a lot of the tea flavor in the cookies? This has boundless potential applications. Awesome!!!

The Devil's Food Advocate said...

What a beautiful cookie; and the potential for other variations should yield some equally fun results! Thank you, as always, for the inspiration.

Emma said...

I've played around with plenty of shortbread flavors, including tea, but have never thought to alter the cookie color as well. Clever - now I just have to start liking fruity teas enough to purchase some:)

Rebecca said...

You WOULD like Kusmi, the packaging is so beautiful! Do you know about Mariage Freres? You might like that too.

livingthesweetlifeblog said...

*yummm* buttery cookies and tea mesh so well together - - and now that you've combined the two I'm intrigued :) Not to mention the fact that the colour of these cookies alone are blowing me away.

Averie @ Averie Cooks said...

Hibiscus Tea is so delicious and I would have never thought to bake with it...you're so creative!

Blue Kitchen Bakes said...

Wow these look amazing. Thank you the inpsiring idea. I have some loose hibiscus tea and every time I have a cup I think there must be some way of using it in baking. I'm definitely going to give these a try especially as purple is my favourite colour :)

Heather (Heather's Dish) said...

these look and sound so elegant! i love the beautiful colors :)

vanillasugarblog said...

congrats on the article, i will go read later....
as for the shortbread, wow.
i love steeping, i mean its a lot of work but the flavor that comes later is worth it.
this is how i feel when i make batches of raspberry coulis in the summer--my favorite.

carine said...

J'essaye dés demain, tellement j'aime cette idée!

Eileen said...

Ok, these look thoroughly amazing! My first thought--a very weird one--was that I must make these for my friends' holiday cookie exchange in about eight months. What? They'll clearly knock everyone's socks off! Of course I must try them in the much nearer future as well. :)

Lora said...

These look so sweet. What a great tip about making tea butter. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

in one of your pictures it looks like you are squeezing someone's heart and it is dripping blod. whaaaat? just kidding heather your cookies look fantastic and friendly. i wonder what i read these days to get such gruesome thoughts in my mind... im sorry. :)

SprinkleBakes said...

...maybe I'm hiding a gruesome act in plain sight.

I kid, I kid. :)

Paula said...

Congratulations on the feature! How lovely that the pink turned into this lovely shade of purple, almost a dark lavender! The shortbread cookies look beautiful.

Laura in DC said...

These look great! Would love to pair them with some other shortbreads (green tea, earl grey, chocolate and regular). In DC there is a place called Teaism that sells a trio of shortbreads (green tea, choc, earl).

And a shout out for the new book. It's fabulous!!! Congratulations and thanks for writing it (and taking such great photos)!

Leah said...

These look so pretty, i really love hibiscus tea!

Julia @The Roasted Root said...

Oh no way, I've never seen anything like this! Now that I have read your helpful tip about infusing butter with tea, I'm definitely going to try it. I drink hot tea literally every day (even in the summer months) and have never tried hibiscus, so your post has given me all sorts of inspiration to try new things. The shortbread looks awesome; looking forward to trying it!

Yadsia @ShopCookMake said...

How pretty!

Sara {HomeIsWhereTheCookiesAre.com} said...

Wow! I love this! I was trying to think of a way to incorporate my mom's favorite tea into a sweet treat for Mother's day - and I have been craving shortbread too - why couldn't I bring these two together?? Thanks so so much! Adorable cookies, and lovely idea!

Javelin Warrior said...

These are so beautiful and I love how the hibiscus turns the cookies such a lovely shade of purple. I had no idea hibiscus could do this, so very impressed. I am featuring this post in today's Friday Food Fetish roundup (with a link-back and attribution), but please let me know if you have any objections. As always, it's a pleasure to be following your creations…

hat methi said...

Oh wow! I lovee hibiscus tea, so I am sure this would be amazing

thelittleloaf said...

I absolutely love the idea of infusing butter with tea and the colour of these biscuits is incredible.

Pan Cuisine said...

Heather, this is awesome...can anything be more vibrant? I drool...:)

Catalina @ Cake with Love said...

OMG these are so cute, I love, Love the color!!

Stef said...

Beautiful as always! I can't wait to see what else you do with tea. It has so many possibilities. Thanks for the sweet shout out, glad I could help in some small way.

Ashley said...

OMG I recently found a place by me that sells dried hibiscus flowers, and I had been trying to think of something to make with them. You read my mind :) Thanks!

Eat Breathe Live Color said...

This looks so beautiful! I love your use of color - and the photography is gorgeous! LOVE!

Mijú said...

Que fotos tan llamativas.
Un saludito

Laura @ Family Spice said...

My favorite tea is my Persian black tea with cardamom. I need to try some of these lovely floral teas!

Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} said...

I am all kinds of in love with this post. xoxo

Cupcake and Talk said...

Beautiful! The shortbread cookies look amazing and color came out perfect. Thank you for the recipe.

Asmita said...

BEAUTIFUL!

Anonymous said...

My church has had a Lavender Ladies' Luncheon fo at least 55 years for the ladies seventy and over in our community.I will have to try these and hopefully share them with the women that plan it.I hope the poppy seed is optional because many of the women cannot have them-including my dear mother- in-law who remembers working at these luncheons as a young matron and now attends them.
Mary Cay at marycmartin@hotmail.com

Deb said...

Adore the vibrant lavender color, great little cookies! Thanks for sharing the technique for infusing the butter with the tea. It is new to me and I am looking forward to trying it.

betchacanteatjustone said...

These are so beautiful and I can only imagine how delightful they must taste! I've made an earl grey shortbread before that actually used the tea leaves, but I love the idea of flavouring the butter. I look forward to giving this a try very soon!

Nina said...

Just like boiled cabbage, hibiscus functions as a pH indicator. If you've ever added lemon juice to hibiscus tea you would of seen it in action.

Jen @ Jens Favorite Cookies said...

Wow, I don't even know what to say. These are gorgeous! I've never heard of flavoring butter with tea, but I now MUST try it. I bet it would give a wonderful subtle flavor to the baked goods. Definitely pinning this one!

Sue said...

These are gorgeous and I can only imagine the taste!?! Heather, Everything you touch transforms into beauty:) Congrats on your exceptional book and your magazine feature! I can't wait to post some of your recipes:)

Eileen said...

Naturally purple cookies?!!! Awesome.

Anonymous said...

How strange! Getting my weekly sprinkle bakes fix, saw this awesome post, and i was surprised;
I was in Bali, Indonesia this week, and i attended a Balinese cooking class where we made traditional hibiscus tea - and it was so good! :D It was just a couple of red/pink hibiscus flowers (stamens and stems removed) stirred into a cup of hot water, which turned the liquid a blackish/purple colour (interestingly!). Then we added a spoonful of lime juice (lemon is fine also) and it immediately changed into a bright pink colour. Add some palm sugar/honey if you like, and thats it! Way easy, but FRIGGN' TASTY!!! :) sweet as post! will definitely try the butter! ;)

Sandra said...

Amazing!!! The cookies look so beautiful and sound real tasty. I am going ot have to try this as soon as I get the chance. Wow. And congrats on the early book shipment. Can't wait to check it out.

Cathleen said...

I love shortbread, but this looks fantastic! Love the color!

Georgia | The Comfort of Cooking said...

What a beautiful shortbread! This looks so wonderful and your photos are breathtaking.

Lissa (The Wedding Bistro at Bellenza) said...

How fabulous these would look served at a bridal shower tea party!

oni said...

there are no words. every step of this was so beautiful!

LetMeEatCake Eat With Me! said...

these are gorgeous and the flavor combo sounds incredible!

Baker Street said...

Your shortbread looks incredible! Lovely combination of flavors.

Jennifer (Delicieux) said...

Wow Heather, your shortbread looks so adorable. It's amazing how the beautiful pink butter turned purple when baked. So pretty!!!

Congratulations on your book shipping early too! How exciting. I can't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Athena said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dorothy said...

Could you use coffee filters instead of a tea towel for the straining process?

marinaacuario81 said...

oh my good.... i just can say... aggggg (like homer simpson). I love your blog.... great job!!! here is mine, take a look if you like... and sorry for my english!! kisses
http://losmundosdenina.blogspot.com.es/

Anonymous said...

I just love some of the names from fellow bloggers.

Keep on :)

Jenn Kendall said...

i love hibiscus tea! and what a lovely pairing with that poppy seed shortbread cookies!

Julie said...

These are beautiful! I just heard about your new book - congrats!

ye-mek.net said...

This recipe is hard to make but good to watch :) This photos are awsome...

that (Asian) American Girl said...

I've tried your recipe several times, and it is absolutely delicious! The only difference I had was in the tea I used - I mixed Organic Fairtrade Rosehip Hibiscus Tea as well as a few bags of Starbucks/Tazo Passion Tea. My cookies did not turn out purple, unfortunately - more of a fishy gray color with golden edges...but they were sweet and tart and delicious.

Rachel said...

I've made these this evening, but with earl grey tea instead. They're lovely, though I wish I'd rolled them thicker and into bars, because that's how I like my shortbread (better for dipping!)

Michelle said...

omg this is so cool. ive always felt that my tea flavoured goodies (esp earl grey) is not pronounced enough. i'll be sure to test this out for my future recipes. :)

Lili said...

How you ended up with that color is just so amazing! They're so pretty with the poppy seeds, I just love shortbread cookies. xo ~Lili

Erika said...

Hi! Has anyone else actually made them and tried them? are they as delicious as they look??

Marina Bancheva said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Marina Bancheva said...

Thank you so much for your recipes! They are really inspiring!
I would like to ask you if it is possible for you to write the ingredients also in grams. I live in Italy and i'm not really able to convert in european measurements!
Thanks again for your beautifull site!

Anonymous said...

Your cookies look amazing. I am really curious how does the butter work? After squeezing out the liquid, which part forms the newly form butter? Does it really cool back into a butter?

I really want to try this out!! :)

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