When I lived in Berlin a couple of years ago, all the students on my travel writing course would descend on this one cafe in Kreuzberg called Pfeiffers. It was small and unassuming, bit tired around the edges, but we kept coming for the free wifi – the password was Sommerzeit which I found adorable – and one coffee a day. We regularly broke the internet (15 students trying to load pictures of our holiday snaps to Facebook at the same time will do that) and were often hounded out by the staff who simply turned the lights off on us. We only ever purchased one drink to use the net and probably put the place into administration by taking up all the sockets for our laptops and paying €2 a time for the pleasure. It was in this lurid orange cafe that I first fell in love with chai.
When I had arrived, three of my friends had already been there a month and were educated in the stuff to a tea (excuse the pun). Pick one of the many barrels of blends and have it topped up with frothing milk to create the tastiest chai latte around. My nose for coffee was confused, and regularly would I switch between a Milchkaffe (the nearest equivalent to a latte) and a tiger chai latte. The spiced aromas were so inviting yet strong coffee would make me go weak at the knees. Caught between drinks, it never came to me that the two could be combined – hello dirty chai.
I can’t take credit for this idea though – my friend V2 sent me a message the other day daring me to make dirty chai cookies after becoming hooked on the drink of the same name. But they are wonderful. The spiced aromas of chai mingle with coffee to create a bitter taste that melts into light, nutmeg-like notes. Smooth milk chocolate works best in this cookie – dark would be too bitter – and remember to go quality or go home. No-one wants a Dairy Milk cookie. Sorry.
Baking these beauties will fill your kitchen with the scent of sweet spices and the milky notes of the nibs of chocolate folded through the mix. For you, these cookies will be a taste revelation – for me, they evoke happy memories of that pokey Berlin cafe.
You Will Need
130g caster sugar
130g brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla paste
338g plain flour
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp salt
2 chai teabags
1 tsp coffee granules
100g good quality milk chocolate, finely chopped (I like Tesco’s Finest 40% Cooks Milk Chocolate)
Whisk the butter and two sugars together in a large bowl with a hand mixer for 3-5 minutes until thick and creamy. Add the egg, yolk and vanilla paste then whisk again.
To make the dirty chai powder, empty the contents of two chai teabags into a mortar and pestle along with the coffee. Grind to a fine powder then add to a bowl along with the flour, bicarbonate of soda, salt and whisk to combine. Add to the creamed mix and whisk until fully incorporated and fluffy. Stir in the finely chopped milk chocolate, then cover the bowl with cling film and place in the fridge for at least 45 minutes.
Once chilled, preheat the oven to 180oc/160oc fan/Gas Mark 4. Line two baking trays with baking parchment and set aside. Remove the cookie dough from the fridge and place heaping tablespoons spaced widely apart onto the baking sheets. Place in the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes until golden round the edges. Cool for 10 minutes then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.