Spiced Tea-Time Treats


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Enjoy these warming recipes on a chilly afternoon as you relax with friends and family.

Dawna is editor of The Herb Companion. She gained her cooking knowledge from her mother and her love of sweets from her sister.

The time-honored tradition of “tea time” goes back to nineteenth-century England. Drinking tea began in China thousands of years before that, but the British loved tea so much that they made a meal of it. In late afternoon or early evening, hot tea was served accompanied by some sort of meat dish, bread, and jelly or jam.

We’ve added a little spice to the tea-time tradition. So on a cold, snowy afternoon, warm up the stove, your tummy, and your tune with these spiced treats and drinks.


Spiced Cookies

Lavender-Lemon Stackers

Makes about 2 dozen

Light and creamy with a bit of zing, the only problem with these treats is that you can’t eat just one. So stack them up!

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup whipping cream
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest
1 teaspoon lavender flowers
Sugar (for garnish)

Mix the butter, shortening, cream, flour, lemon zest, and lavender flowers thoroughly. Cover and chill for 1 hour. Remove from the refrigerator and roll onto a floured board or workspace to 1/8-inch thick. Use a round cookie cutter to make 11/2-inch circles. Coat each circle with a thin layer of sugar on each side, then place them on a cookie sheet 1/2 inch apart. Bake at 325°F for 6 to 8 minutes. Cool before frosting and assembling.

1/2 cup butter
3 cups confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

Combine all of the ingredients, mixing thoroughly. If the filling is too thick to spread without breaking the cookies, add a tiny bit of lemon juice. If it is too runny, add a small amount of confectioners’ sugar.

To assemble, use a knife to gently spread the frosting on every other cookie. Then stack another cookie on top. Repeat with remaining pairs of cookies.

Mint Pirouettes in Chocolate

Makes about 1 dozen,

These delicate cookies add an elegant touch to any tea time. Savor each bite as they take a little bit of time and energy to make.

2 egg whites
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
2 tablespoons crushed dried mint leaves
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate pieces
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup crushed peppermint sticks or candy canes (optional)

In a medium bowl, let the egg whites stand at room temperature for approximately 20 minutes. Generously grease a cookie sheet. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over low heat.

Beat the egg whites with an electric mixer on medium to high speed until peaks begin to form. Gradually add sugar while beating until stiff peaks form. Gently fold in 1/4 cup of the flour with a rubber spatula. Add the melted (but slightly cooled) butter, peppermint extract, and mint. Once mixed thoroughly, add the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour, folding gently so as not to disturb the whipped whites.

With a tablespoon, drop three spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet in three separate circles. Bake at 375°F for 5 to 6 minutes, or until golden.

Remove one cookie from the cookie sheet with a large spatula, flipping it upside down onto your workspace. Quickly roll the cookie around the greased handle of a wooden spoon. Slide the cookie off the handle and cool on a wire rack. Repeat with the remaining warm cookies. If the cookies become too cool and begin to harden, warm in the oven for up to one minute and then shape.

Repeat with the remaining batter. Once cool, refrigerate pirouettes for 1 to 2 hours.

In a small saucepan or double-boiler, heat the chocolate and oil over low heat. Remove from the heat and dip the end of each refrigerated pirouette into the chocolate. Allow the excess to drip off. If using crushed peppermint candy, gently roll the chocolate coated part of the pirouette in the candy. Set each cookie on wax paper. Repeat until all of the cookies have been dipped. Allow the pirouettes to sit until the chocolate has cooled and set.

Cinnamon-Apple Turnovers

Makes about 2 dozen

A classic favorite similar to apple pie, these turnovers are simple to make and easy to store. Make extras, freeze them, and heat before serving.

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup butter
1/4 cup water
2 teaspoons vinegar
1 egg

Mix together the flour, sugar, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a pastry fork. In a separate bowl, beat the egg with the water and vinegar. Add the wet mixture to dry mixture and mix with a fork or pastry cutter until dough forms. On a floured board or counter, roll dough to 1/8 inch thick. Use a 4- or 5-inch round cookie cutter (or a butter knife to cut squares). Lay cutouts on a cookie sheet.


2 apples peeled, cored, and chopped into 1/2-inch pieces
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
11/2 to 2 tablespoons butter

Mix together the apples, sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Have butter on hand for assembling.
To assemble, spoon 1 tablespoon of the filling onto half of each dough cutout. Place a sliver of butter on top of the filling. Fold the empty half over the filling until the edges meet. Using the backside of a fork, seal the edges together by pressing down about 1/4-inch of the edge around the semicircle. Sprinkle a dash of cinnamon and a dash of sugar on top of each turnover.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400°F.
Serve warm.

Orange-Ginger Drop Cookies

Makes about 3 dozen

The zing of ginger accompanied by the fresh, fruity flavor of orange makes these treats irresistible.

1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tablespoon orange zest
1/4 cup orange juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
13/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup crystallized ginger, cut into small pieces

Mix the butter and sugars. Add the egg, orange zest, orange juice, and vanilla. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and ginger. Stir the dry mixture into the wet mixture. Drop spoonfuls of batter onto a cookie sheet 3 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375°F.

Spiced Drinks

Cranberry-Apple Cider

Makes about 2 quarts
Warm your family with this sweet, spicy treat.

1/2 orange
12 whole cloves
6 cups apple cider
2 cups cranberry juice
1/2 teaspoon whole allspice
2 cinnamon sticks
2 chunks crystallized ginger

Slice the orange half into 1/4-inch slices. Insert whole cloves into each slice. Add the cloved oranges and remaining ingredients to a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes. Strain and serve hot.

Spiced Hot Chocolate

Serves 6 to 8

More exciting than ordinary hot chocolate, this beverage will romance your taste buds.

6 cups milk
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup cocoa
2 pinches ground cayenne pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon cinnamon

Heat the milk over low heat. Add the sugar and stir until completely dissolved. Add the cocoa and spices, stirring constantly. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. Serve topped with whipped cream and garnished with a fresh mint leaf.

Spiced Tea

Serves 6 to 8
This tea has a tangy combination of citrus and spices. Accent these flavors by serving the tea with the Orange-Ginger Drop Cookies .

4 cups water
4 tablespoons black or green tea
2 cinnamon sticks
2 slices fresh ginger (1/4-inch thick)
1/2 teaspoon whole cloves
1 teaspoon coriander
2 cups orange juice
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/2 cup sugar or honey

Heat the water, tea leaves, and spices in a saucepan until boiling. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 15 to 20 minutes. Strain the tea, add the orange juice and lemon juice, and return to low heat for 2 to 3 minutes. Sweeten with sugar or honey.