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cardamom and tea ghraybeh

loosely adapted from Maureen Abood’s ghraybeh

Ingredients

To clarify the butter:

  • 227 grams (8 ounces / 2 sticks) unsalted butter*

To bake the cookies:

  • 180 grams clarified butter, at room temperature**
  • The contents of 2 bags of black tea (2 teaspoons of black tea)
  • 1/4 teaspoon cardamom
  • 125 grams powdered sugar (about 3/4 cup)
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon orange blossom water
  • 305 grams sifted all purpose flour (about 2 1/2 to 3 sifted cups) ***
  • Optional: 25 to 30 blanched almonds or pine nuts

Instructions

  1. Clarify the butter: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once the butter has completely melted, reduce the heat to medium-low and continue to simmer. Keep an eye on the temperature and adjust it as necessary, so that the butter solids don’t brown, and so that it doesn’t boil out of control. Within the first couple minutes, the white solids will separate from the yellow liquid (they will float to the top, and then some of them will sink to the bottom).
  2. Remove from heat as soon as the simmering has quieted down a bit, but before it goes silent—this should take about 7 minutes. Use a spoon to carefully skim off any curdled solids from the surface, and then slowly pour the liquid into a measuring cup, leaving behind any of the solids left at the bottom of the pot.
  3. Leave the butter at cool room temperature until it solidifies a bit (although it may still be runny), or refrigerate and then leave at room temperature to soften. You can also give it a head start by placing it in the refrigerator for about 30-45 minutes, and then at room temperature.
  4. To bake the cookies: In the bowl of a stand mixer (or with a hand mixer), beat the butter, tea, and cardamom with the paddle attachment for about 1 minute, until the butter becomes a little fluffier. Add the powdered sugar, salt, and orange blossom water and continue to beat for about 3 minutes, until it’s light and fluffy.
  5. Add the flour and mix together. Stop mixing once you can form it into a ball of dough.****
  6. Move the dough to a long sheet of wax paper, shape it roughly into a log, fold the wax paper over, and use an offset spatula or cutting board to apply pressure over the part where the two sheets of wax meet. Use this pressure to shape it into a round or rectangular log and place it in the refrigerator to solidify for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  7. Once the log is solid enough to hold its shape, slice off pieces that are between 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick, and place on parchment-lined baking sheets with some space between them (see above photo). (Optional): gently press one almond or pine nut onto the center of each cookie.
  8. Preheat the oven to 325° F, and let the sliced cookies come to room temperature while you wait on the oven to preheat (this prevents cracks).
  9. Bake for about 25 to 30 minutes, until the almonds are a little golden-brown (the cookies themselves shouldn’t change much in color).
  10. Cool on the parchment, and then serve with tea.

Notes

* I use European butter (because it’s most easily available where I live), which has less water. If you’re using American-style butter, use an additional 2 tablespoons, because yours might end up reducing more in volume.

** The melted clarified butter is 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons volumetrically, in case you don’t have a scale.

*** If you weigh all your ingredients, you shouldn’t have any issues, but measuring with cups is less exact, so you need to be a bit more cautious if you don’t have a scale. Be sure to sift the flour before measuring 2 1/2 cups (I sift directly into the measuring cup with a flexible cutting board underneath to catch the spillover), and be sure to measure level cups by sweeping the tops with a straight edge (not packing it in). Too much flour will make the dough unable to stick together.

**** A perfect ghraybeh dough will seem crumbly when you mix it together, but it will stick together into a ball when compressed in your hand. If you measure everything by weight, you won’t have an issue, but if you do have an issue, don’t sweat it: if the dough won’t stick together, simply add an additional tablespoon of softened butter and work everything together, adding another one if it really needs it.