Lapsang souchong spice cookies

Lapsang souchong spice cookies

We’ve slept in a tent in the backyard the last two nights. Consequently I feel exceedingly tired and dumb as a rock. Forgive my inability to string words together to form those coherent…what are they called? Oh yes, sentences. We had a nice time, though. Backyard camping! Most of the pleasures of camping, plus hot showers and coffee when you need it. The boys told “cloud stories” with burning sticks. We sat and talked into the darkness – the boys stayed up late, we went to bed early. We all lay in the tent and took turns reading Midnight is a Place by candlelight. This is one of my favorite books ever, and it’s perfect for camping because it’s by turn cold and wet and miserable and warm and cozy…so you really appreciate all the sheets and blankets the boys lugged down the stairs and arranged in a beautiful muddle. We could look up at the stars, and listen to the screech owls and the amazingly diverse and sweet chorus of bug chirpings. In the morning we ate scrambled eggs and toasted bread on our campfire. Malcolm played with a piece of bread as though it was play-doh, stuck it on a dirty stick and said, “This one’s for mommy!” David suggested that he give it to Isaac instead, and toasted two perfect pieces of bread. We went for a hike in the wilds of the other other side of the canal and pretended that we were miles from town. The boys did front flips in the tent all day long, and we all went down for a swim in the river to cool off. And our yard still has the lovely smell of our campfire. These cookies are a tribute to that smell, and to the fact that summer is quickly turning into autumn. Our town is full of fireplaces. When you walk home, some evenings in fall, your clothes smell of fireplace smoke. And I swear some people in town burn cinnamon sticks, because the smell is so sweet and spicy. My friend Diane very kindly gave me a tin of lapsang souchong tea. The scent is wonderful! I wanted to combine that with the spicy flavor of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, and allspice to create a smoky, spicy, sweet late summer cookie. They smelled remarkable, and I loved the taste – but you’d have to like lapsang souchong to enjoy these. I used two tablespoons of tea leaves, and I ground them in the coffee grinder. The boys loved them, but the smoky flavor was a little too strong for the adults, so I’d probably use 1 scant tablespoon next time, and that’s how I’m writing up the recipe!

Here’s 5 am in Amsterdam, by Michelle Shocked, from her Campfire Tapes, with the backup cricket-singers. I had some trouble sleeping in the tent, but it wasn’t so bad being surrounded by my family, staring up at the brightening sky.

1 stick unsalted butter, softened
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 t vanilla essence
1 1/4 cups flour
1 t cinnamon
1/2 t ginger
pinch each nutmeg and allspice
1 T lapsang souchong leaves, ground in a spice grinder or coffee grinder
1/2 t salt

Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly butter two big baking sheets.

Cream the butter with the sugar and vanilla until light and creamy. Beat in the egg, then all of the dry ingredients. Mix till nice and smooth.

Drop by tiny teaspoonfuls about on cookie sheets, leaving some space between them, because they’ll spread.

Bake for 7 – 10 minutes till they’re starting to brown on the edges, and they’re not shiny on the top any more.

Cool on racks, and then eat!

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