Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies shaped like tea bags and dipped in dark chocolate make for a show-stopping teatime cookie!
Here’s something you might not know about me: I took ballet for 12 years. From a young age, I dreamed about twirling as the sugar plum fairy and dancing in Swan Lake and wearing the fanciest, flounciest tutus.
As I got older, I found I was interested in 500 million other things, much as I am now. Back then it was art class and reading Nancy Drew books. I always used to bring a book to rehearsal, and I often got in trouble for not paying attention!
I ended up quitting ballet when I was 15. I wasn’t getting the parts I wanted (getting cast as a party boy in The Nutcracker was the beginning of the end for me) and, to top it off, I injured my knees, probably from starting on pointe shoes too early. I would have needed surgery and a lot of hard work to turn ballet into my career, and I just didn’t want it enough. And, like I said, I was interested in a lot of other things.
But I can’t deny that ballet was a huge part of my childhood. My mom made me these amazing scrapbooks filled with pictures of me from ages 2 to 15 in tutus of all colors. There are also programs from all my recitals and shows, sweet cards from my grandmothers and other mementos like drawings the other girls and I made for each other during our dress rehearsals. We often used to give each other ‘good luck’ gifts, too.
One of my favorite such gifts I received when I was 10 and performing in that year’s spring production of Alice in Wonderland. My blonde friend got to play the part of ‘Little Alice,’ the one after she eats the cookie! I was so jealous of her, but I was cast as a butterfly and it was equally awesome. Despite my jealousy, on the eve of opening night, she handed me a gift, which I still have — a hardback copy of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass.
Alice had always been a favorite Disney movie of mine. I even had an Mad Hatter–themed tea party when I was a kid. So when ‘Little Alice’ gave me a copy of the book, I devoured it as I did Nancy Drew. Carroll’s whimsical land, his plays on words and his bizarre characters became some of the literary moments I cherish most. I’m less of a bookworm these days, but I still love any and all things Alice.
This weekend the movie Alice Through the Looking Glass opens, and I’m looking forward to seeing it. I find it so interesting to see how different people — from my former ballet teacher to Tim Burton — adapt and build upon the story and characters I love so much. I have a small collection of Alice books (next on the list is Anna Rifle Bond’s adorable illustrated edition) and I always see every Alice movie, from the traditional and weird.
These Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies are semi-inspired by the Mad Hatter scene. I always loved that part! Shortbread is already a great teatime cookie. I added Earl Grey tea leaves into the mix to bring in its smoky, bergamot flavors. I also cut the cookies into tea bag shapes and dipped them into dark chocolate to make them look like tea bags. So fun for a grown-up tea party, if you ask me! For the record, baking is a way better interest than ballet. I think I turned out just fine. // susannah
P.S. You should pair these cookies with a cup of tea! Learn a bit about drinking tea and the essentials you need to do it well. This Russian Tea is a family favorite. And of course, you can always make it a cocktail. This Peach Tea Old-Fashioned is perfect for summer!