Thailand Takeover: Kaffir Lime Shortbread with Thai Tea Glaze

thai tea kaffir lime shortbread

Shortbread is one of my favorite things to make. I've kept the same base recipe for years and with it created endless variations. I actually tested two recipes for this post originally. The other was lemongrass and Thai chili with the same glaze. The lemongrass and chili shortbread were good but not particularly flavorful. I'm considering using the same flavor combination and glaze for a doughnut now instead but we'll see. This kaffir shortbread though, which was originally something I made sort of as an after thought, is a winner. It has all the buttery richness you crave in the middle of Winter with the bright, bold, Summery flavor of the kaffir leaves. Don't even get me started on this Thai tea glaze. How many things can I put it on? Is all the things too many things? Is it insane to just eat a spoonful? I honestly don't even know.


For the Shortbread:

  • 8 oz (2 sticks) Butter (cubed and COLD)
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Dark Brown Sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves* (Crumbled/chopped as fine as you can)

For the Glaze:

  • 1 cup Powdered Sugar
  • 1/3 cup Milk
  • 1 tablespoon Thai Tea*

The Cookie

  1. Put all the ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer of food processor (I think a food processor works best but I don't currently own one) and mix until they form a smooth dough. There shouldn't be any visible chunks of butter.
  2. Wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap and let chill for thirty minutes
  3. Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit
  4. Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface to about 3/8 inch thickness.
  5. Cut into your desired shape. I did both 1 by 2 inch rectangles and 2 inch rounds this go round but I also considered breaking out my dinosaur cookie cutters. You can combine and re-roll the scraps up to two times if your kitchen is pretty cool.
  6. Place evenly spaced on a greased cookie sheet (they'll spread a little but not much) and bake for a full hour, just until a light golden brown on the bottom.
  7. Remove cookies from the tray and cool completely on a rack

The Glaze

  1. In a small saucepan bring milk just to a boil. Remove from heat and add in tea. Cover and steep for ten minutes.
  2. Strain the milk through a fine mesh sieve and let cool.
  3. When milk has come back to room temperature whisk into powdered sugar a little bit at a time until you've reached the desired consistency for the glaze. I made mine thin enough to drizzle but still thick enough to spread without it running everywhere. In my experience, powdered sugar glazes turn out a little different every time you make them, so they're not an exact science.
  4. When the cookies are completely cool, use a fork to drizzle or an offset spatula to spread the glaze on top. Let set. Enjoy!

*I looked for both Thai Tea and Dried Kaffir Lime Leaves in some of my favorite online spice shops but couldn't find them. If you're not going to Thailand any time soon, your best bet for these ingredients is either an Asian market or Amazon.

Dried Kaffir Leaves Thai Tea

Great Grandpa Bob's Chocolate Chip Cookies

From the (currently invisible) archives. Originally published March 22, 2013

My great-grandfather made pies. Always the same ones, sticky sweet pecan and tart lemon meringue. It has taken a long time for me to come around to nuts being ok at all, then I'd begrudgingly eat the pecans because they were surrounded by the sugar, butter, vanilla goo and flaky flaky pie crust.

The lemon meringue was always piled high with a dry, foamy meringue that would be the reason I'd avoid anything with so much as the hint of meringue for years - until I went to culinary school, in fact. I'm sure it was the style to make that sort of meringue and it definitely looked impressive but it really has nothing on a silky smooth proper french meringue. I'd scrape it off and eagerly devour the smooth lemon filling.

His garage was always filled with jars of apricot jam and jalapeno jelly, made each Summer and sealed with a thick layer of paraffin. Visits at the end of Summer always guaranteed a batch of fresh apricot ice cream and trip to Marine World Africa USA.

But my favorite, my absolute favorite thing to make with him was chocolate chip cookies. I don't know how old I was when we made our first batch together, not very. I often say I've been perfecting my chocolate chip cookies for the past twenty-four years and I don't think it's an exaggeration.

It always started the same, two stick of Imperial margarine (he was nothing if not frugal) into the microwave to soften and then into the glass bowl of the Sunbeam stand mixer. Then three-quarters of a cup of white sugar, back and forth with the back of a butter knife, one, two, three times until perfectly level. Next came my favorite, three quarter cups of tightly packed brown sugar that came out in little mounds like sand castles into the mixing bowl. I stood on the avocado green step stool required to reach the counter and eagerly watched the beaters turn the "butter" and sugar into one light and fluffy mass. Next the mixer would be turned off (not by me, because I had to promise to keep my small hands away from those quickly spinning metal finger breakers) and I'd get to crack two eggs in the bowl and carefully measure a teaspoon of vanilla before it went back on. Dries were measured the same as the sugar - leveled with exactly as much precision as you would expect a Naval chemist to require. After the dries, I'd get to open and pour in the yellow bag of Nestle semi sweet chips.

Then it was time to remove and lick the beaters.

We'd use two spoons to carefully form and space out mounds on the cookie sheets that I was under no circumstance supposed to put in the oven. While the cookies were baking the kitchen table would be covered in a double layer of newspaper for the cookies to be carefully moved onto to cool. I don't think I even knew cooling racks were a thing until I was a teenager. And when they were cool enough to touch but still warm enough to be gooey, it was time to eat them.

In high school I made so many batches of chocolate chip cookies that we'd go through a handmixer every few months. I didn't even eat that many, it was just the process, the familiarity of the ritual of measuring and mixing that would calm and de-stress me. I'd come to class with giant bags of cookies and hand them out.

They're still the thing my friends and family request the most and made up most of the care package I sent to Lara when I found out her father was dying. I have slightly different recipes depending on who is requesting them. I know how to make them thin and crispy, like my great grandfather's, for my grandma (though she really just wants the dough, sans chocolate chips, anyways), I know how to make thicker, soft ones that are somewhere near the platonic ideal and I know the recipe for my own preference, the toffee studded ones that are most requested.

And each time I make them, I think of my great grandfather's neat preciseness, his three strand comb over and Ford belt buckle, the house in Vallejo, the pink bedroom and the apricot tree in the backyard. I think he probably didn't know that he was teaching me something that would comfort me for the rest of my life, that would become my career and I wish he were still around to tell.

I'm participating in The Scintilla Project, a fortnight of storytelling. This post was in response to the prompt "Many of our fondest memories are associated with food. Describe a memorable experience that took place while preparing or eating food."