Chocolate Chip Chai Shortbread

Yield:2 1/2 dozen
These aromatic shortbread were adapted from one of my favorite cookie cookbooks, Vegan Cookies Invade your Cookie Jar by Moskowitz & Romero. Even though I'm not a vegetarian, this has become one of my favorite cookbooks and all the recipes have worked just fine with non-vegan ingredients. These Chocolate Chip Chai Shortbread are an often repeated recipe in my kitchen. They are very quick to put together into a slice-and-bake dough that is lightly flavored with spices, chai tea and mini chocolate chips. When I'm feeling extra-indulgent, I make sandwich cookies out of them, filling them with a rich chocolate ganache.

1/2 cup shortening
1/2 cup butter, slightly softened
3/4 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
generous pinch each of ground coriander and ground black pepper
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. chai tea leaf blend (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
1. Preaheat oven to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

2. Using electric beats in a large bowl, cream the butter and shortening together until smooth. Fold in the powdered sugar and vanilla. Cream again with the beaters until smooth and creamy.

3. In a separate bowl, sift together the all purpose flour, the whole wheat pastry flour, the spices , baking soda, salt and chai tea. Fold half of this mixture into the creamed mixture just to moisten. Fold in the remaining flour mixture to form a dense dough. Fold in the chocolate chips. Knead the dough by hand three or four times to completely incorporate the chocolate.

4. Divide the dough into two logs, approximately 8x3 inches and about 1/2 inch thick. With a thin sharp knife, cut logs into 1/2 inch thick slices. Transfer the slices to the baking sheets.

5. Bake shortbread for 12-14 minutes, until slightly puffed and the edges are just turning golden. Allow the cookies to cool for 5 minutes on the sheets and then transfer to a rack to cool completely.

* To make these cookies vegan, use a vegan margarine in place of the butter and make sure to use vegan chocolate and shortening.