Black-bottom Chai-Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Okay, so I’ve been on a chai kick lately, obviously (2nd chai post in two days).  Well,  tis’ the season!  I created this recipe one day in my head and had to try it out.  I was impressed with the results, as were those that were lucky enough to be gifted some! (The actual cookie base was adapted from the Joy of Cooking’s Classic Oatmeal Cookie).

Black-Bottom Chai-Spiced Oatmeal Cookies

Steep:

3-4 high quality chai tea bags in 1/4 cup boiled water for 10 minutes, covered.  Remove tea bags and let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile wisk:

1 1/2 cups all-purpose baking flour
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
3/4 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp nutmeg
3/4 tsp cinnamon
4-6 grinds of fresh black pepper

In a separate bowl, blend:

2 sticks of butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups dark brown sugar
1/4 cup sugar
2 eggs, room temperature
1 tsp vanilla

Add chai tea concentrate to butter mixture.  Gradually add flour mixture until smooth.

Stir in:

3 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Place dough in refrigerator to stand overnight or 12 hours, covered (this step is important for flavor, do not skip this step).

Preheat oven to 350 degrees, with the rack in upper third of oven.  Grease cookie sheets.  Drop dough by heaping tablespoons, 3-inches apart on greased cookie sheets.  Gently press cookie downward to create a semi-flattened disk.

Cook for 8-10 minutes.  Let stand 2 minutes on tray before removing from cookie sheet.

Meanwhile, in a double boiler, melt and cool to tepid:

12-14 ounces of high-quality semi-sweet or dark chocolate, chopped

Once the cookies are completely cooled, spread the bottom of each cookie with sufficient chocolate to coat.  Place face down on wax paper or tin foil and place in a cool area to harden.  Do not remove cookies from wax paper until completely hardened, otherwise you will lose the chocolate from the cookie.  Store in a cool location for up to one week.

And of course, enjoy!

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Chai-Infused Applesauce

For me, the holidays are a time when I put aside my green and herbal teas and turn to more hearty drinks such as chai, hot apple cider and homemade hot chocolate.  Recently, as I was making applesauce with apples right from my family’s apple orchard, I got the idea to throw in a few bags of chai tea…which I was drinking simultaneously.  What a delicious fall treat it turned out to be!

Chai-Infused Applesauce

4 lbs of apples (MacIntosh work well, or any other cooking apple), cored, cut into small cubes, and peeled if preferred
1-1 1/2 cups of apple juice/cider/nectar (more if necessary)
honey to one’s likeness (1/4-1/2 cup)
3-5 chai tea bags
squirt of 1 lemon and its zest
2-3 cinnamon sticks

Cook apples, apple juice, honey, lemon zest and juice, and cinnamon sticks in a large, heavy saucepan over medium-low heat.  Add the chai tea bags into the apple mixture, immersing in the liquid, being careful not to break them open. Cook until fruit is very tender and broken down, about 45 minutes, adding liquid periodically so that the apples do not get dry, and the tea bags still have some liquid in which to infuse.  Once the mixture is quite tender, discard the tea bags and cinnamon stick.  Mash apples with a potato masher, or if you prefer a smoother applesauce, pass through a medium-mesh sieve or a food mill fitted with fine disk into a bowl.  Enjoy warm or chill before serving!


Tea, in the Land of Coffee

Let’s face it, Costa Rica is known for its coffee.  And as I have discovered amidst my weekly trips to the grocery store, not known for its teas…at least the kind of teas that I love and appreciate…you know, a fine Green from China, a Rooibos from Vietnam, a Darjeeling from India…good, old fashioned, loose-leaf tea that warms the body and soul.  

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But today I found a gem, in the land of coffee.  A TEA SHOP.   Being the tea lover I am, I was ecstatic.

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Tea Land was the gem I found amongst the outskirts of the city of San José.  The brightly colored walls were welcoming, the staff friendly, and the tea?  A golden morsel of deliciousness on my choosy taste buds.

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Rooibos Tropical, Blueberry Yogurt, Masala Chai – those are the flavors that warmed my friends and my soul that day.  We will for sure be going back to this hidden gem in the land of coffee.  And if you, a tea drinkerever find yourself lost in the land of coffee, be sure and look for this hidden gem as well.

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Lunch on the Farm

“Look at the view from my office!” Abelle exclaimed as he pointed out towards the lush rolling mountains high in central Costa Rica.

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Abelle lives on a farm at the end of a high road in central Costa Rica with his wife, Ellie, three grown children, two dogs, one cat, a handful of trout, and plenty of cows.  

The farm is his office.  

There, in this magical wonderland, where the sun casts warmth and nourisment upon it’s land, alchemy is created.  

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Ellie and Abelle have been making a living off their farm since before time.  Their land is chock full of blackberry bushes, apple tress, passion fruit vines, lettuce, herbs, kale, chard, tomatoes, and the list goes on.  Also smack in the center of their hill facing the sun, a solar dehydrator, to ensure none of their prolific fresh produce goes to waste. 

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But what roams the land, is the most important part – cows, “plenty of cows,” says Abelle.  The cows are milked twice a day and Ellie and Abelle make four rounds of fresh cheese daily, to age for months in their cheese cellar, and eventually to be sold to gourmet restaurants in the capital city of San José.  Small slices of artisan cheese and whole grain crackers was our appetizer for lunch that day.

Aside from how they make their living, I was so lucky enough to be invited to their farm for a lovely, home-cooked, homegrown meal.  We started out the day by catching the trout – rainbow trout, which is prolific in these parts of Costa Rica.  Then we ventured over to the garden to grab some lettuce, kale, cherry tomatoes and fresh herbs, stopping to crack open a passion fruit and grab a blackberry or two.

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Upon arriving inside their modest home, hands chock full of garden edibles, we prepared a simple, nutritious meal with olive oil, fresh lemons, sea salt, fresh herbs, salad fixings, trout, and couscous.  We sat down to enjoy it, valuing the hands that grew it, prepared it, and now those that were eating it. 

It was a slow afternoon, we didn’t do much.  It was one so rich in community, simplicity, food and friends.  But in my mind, there’s nothing quite like it.

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