You Wanna The Tea? Go Make.
Italian cookies are the crown jewel of the kitchen. Recipes pass from generation to generation. Some are closely guarded secrets, while others are shared with the world. Whatever the case may be, your own mother’s are always the best. There is a special kind of comfort found in having a cookie and a cup of tea, whether alone curled up on a couch, or at the table with a loved one. The cookies can only be made more delicious with the perfect cup of tea. Like pairing the perfect wine to a meal, a special cup of tea can bring out the flavors in a cookie.
Here are a few suggestions…
Sesame Cookies and Ginger tea
The clean flavor of the seeds meld with the sweet and spice and of the tea to make the flavor sparkle. The dough is simplistic and the strength of the ginger brings out the flavor of the sugar in the cookies.
Italian Chocolate Cookies and Chai tea
Italian chocolate cookies are a complex flavor with cloves, cinnamon, orange and chocolate. It is a bold flavor that needs a strong tea to complement it. The orange and cloves in the cookies come alive with the tea’s sweet and shocking taste. Milk and honey in the chai tea also add something special.
Cherry cookies and Lavender tea
I know. Crazy. Really. Try it. There’s something to the sweet and tart cherry flavor of the cookie that plays off of the mellow, cool lavender. It makes for a dreamy, misty flavor, so soft. (If soft could be a flavor.) It has a delicate taste that somehow balances one another.
Pizelles and Orange tea
All types of pizelles, vanilla, anise and lemon take a fresher flavor with the sweet orange. The crispness of the cookie combines with the orange and it takes on almost an Asian flavor. The smells are heavenly. I prefer the orange tea here as opposed to another citrus tea because it is sweeter and it doesn’t compete with the underlying vanilla flavors.
Lemon cookies and Cran-Apple tea
Cran-apple tea lures the sweet and sour flavor from a lemon cookie. The fresh-crisp taste of both the tea and the cookie create a light and delicious match. The crust on the lemon cookies is very buttery and it needs to have a sharpness against it, like cranberry.
Strufoli and Earl Grey
The sticky sweetness of these little fried honey cookies needs a stronger flavor to enhance them. Earl Grey straight up is best. Let it steep awhile to draw out the full flavor of the Bergamot orange. (Yes, I know, crazy! Who knew it had orange rind in it?) The honey, with the taste of orange from the tea, electrify each other.
Almond Paste Cookies and Vanilla tea
Almond paste cookies almost melt when you bite into them. The dough is pliable and fragile all at once. The delicate flavor of the vanilla enhances the almond flavor, yet it doesn’t over power the fragility of the cookie. Vanilla is the perfect flavor with the almonds. They taste like flowers together. (If that’s your thing.)
Mostaccioli and turmeric tea
These cookies are made with pounds of honey and then black pepper is added for zing. Each family makes them their own special way, even using a thimble to “mark their own cookie.” Turmeric tea is spicy, as it is similar to ginger. The rich honey flavor can hold its own against the spice and it creates a warm, deep flavor.
Torrone and Vanilla Almond tea
Torrone is technically not a cookie, but I had to mention the vanilla almond tea pairing. The nougat is delicious on its own. You really just need something to wash all that loveliness down.
Cantucci and English Breakfast tea
The biscotti that hails from Prato is a classic. If you listen carefully, at night, in Toscana, you can hear the crunching of genitori e nonni after the children are sleeping. It’s the Cantucci. Simple clean lines. Elegant and unassuming. It needs no accessorizing. It needs a tea that is not going to detract from its own simplistic perfection. While she prefers to be with vin santo or espresso, for the purpose of this article, I offer you the grand daddy of them all, The English Breakfast tea.
Fig cookies and Cinnamon tea
Fig cookies, while they look like chocolate, have a sweetness all their own. I don’t think an Italian child has grown up without licking first the side of a fig cookie and then replacing it for her look alike chocolate cousin. This is why most of us run screaming whenever we see a macaroni spoon. Someone’s gonna get spanked.
I digress. The fig flavor is mellow and sweet and the cinnamon flavor somehow pulls out that sweetness. It is a cookie that can take the stronger flavors. If you want a really strong flavor, add a little Amaretto to the tea….but that’s another article.