Christmas Cookies: Ugly Earls

So mean to call them that but come on. They're delicious but they're ugly. The ground tea leaves makes the dough this really unattractive gray and the flecks of orange zest don't help.

Ugly. But yummy. To be honest, Earls don't taste very good straight out of the oven. Or even after cooling. But, if you put them in a cookie tin and leave them alone for a couple days, some strange settling-in, resting alchemy happens and then they are delicious.

Ugly Earls

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

Whisk flour, tea, and salt in a small bowl; set aside.

Put butter, sugar, and orange zest in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Reduce speed to low; gradually mix in flour mixture until just combined.

Divide dough in half. Transfer each half to a piece of parchment paper; shape into logs. Roll in parchment to 1 1/4 inches in diameter, pressing a ruler along edge of parchment at each turn to narrow the log and force out air. Transfer in parchment to paper towel tubes; freeze until firm, 1 hour. (Note all this parchment-ruler-paper-towel-tube bullshit is Martha Stewart making simple things complicated. Just roll it in a log, wrap in Saran and chill. Sheesh.)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cut logs into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Space 1 inch apart on baking sheets lined with parchment.

Bake cookies, rotating sheets halfway through, until edges are golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Let cool on sheets on wire racks. Seal in cookie tin for 2-3 days for best flavor.


Substitute ground vanilla chai tea for Earl Grey. Add an additional 1 tsp of vanilla and omit orange peel.

If you want to go hardcore, scrape the seeds from a vanilla bean and add to the batter as well.