It's funny... as much as I like baked goods, I don't know that I've ever baked as much as I have over the past couple of months. A lot of it has to do with being unemployed, I'm sure; I mean, there are only so many British period dramas one can watch before one's eyes begin to cross and one begins seriously considering wearing bonnets when running errands. Baking gives me the ability to stretch staples like flour and sugar by creating individual, bite sized treats that I can enjoy for days on end, and it makes me break out of my savory cooking comfort zone. I've mentioned time and again that I'm not the best baker out there because it requires so much precision. However, like my knife technique, it's something I knew I needed to practice, so I've tried to make the most of this scary, income-less time by flexing my baking muscles.
But tea without something to nibble on can get a bit boring after awhile, so I thought it would be fun to take some of that tea and put it in a cookie. I've been obsessed with the idea of baking with tea since I had that Earl Grey Lavender cupcake from Esther's Cupcakes here in Sac (seriously the greatest cupcake on Earth), and decided that chamomile, combined with some of the apples I still had hanging out in Big Bowl, would make a fantastic cookie.
I wasn't sure exactly what to expect, but they turned out beautifully, in my opinion. Since I prefer softer cookies to harder ones, I made sure to keep things moist so I'd have a chewy end result. They actually ended up in between chewy and cake-y, which I found to be a perfect accompaniment to my steaming cup of Good Earth tea; had they been more chewy and flat, they would have probably been better for dunking in milk. The flavors of the tart apple and sweet, aromatic chamomile couldn't have come together more beautifully, and the slight addition of honey in the dough rounded out the "cup of tea"-like experience to perfection. These are perfect for any time of year, but will definitely make a wonderful new addition to your holiday baking repertoire. And now for the recipe!
Chewy Apple-Chamomile Cookies (makes about 3 dozen cookies; total cost per dozen: $1.05 )
1/2 c butter
1 1/3 brown sugar
1 T honey
1 t vanilla
1/2 c milk
2 c flour
1/2 t salt
1/2 c chamomile flowers (or 8-10 chamomile tea bags, opened, chamomile removed), finely chopped
1 1/2 c finely chopped apple (Granny Smith or another tart variety works best)
1/2 t cinnamon
1 T sugar
Preheat oven to 350°. Combine the apples, cinnamon and tablespoon of sugar in a bowl and mix together well. Set aside. In a separate bowl, combine the salt & flour and stir to combine. Cream together the butter, brown sugar and honey in a third, larger bowl. Whisk in the egg, milk and vanilla until creamy and smooth. Add the flour to the butter mixture in small batches, stirring together to combine completely in between batches. Next, add the chamomile flowers and apples, and fold into the mixture to incorporate.
Drop by scant teaspoonfuls onto a cookie sheet that has been lightly greased or lined with a Silpat. Bake 13-15 minutes, or until a light golden brown. Cool on a cookie rack for a few minutes, serve with your favorite tea, and enjoy!