Make the perfect holiday dessert with this recipe for hazelnut shortbread bars with a chai tea glaze made from an easy homemade chai tea simple syrup.
I’ve been making shortbread bars like these hazelnut shortbread bars for years. They are a staple of my holiday cookie platter, mostly because they are so simple to make!
When you are making a ton of cookies for family and friends, having one that is relatively hands off and easy to make is key (these shortbread bars don’t require rolling or cutting, not even scooping).
I find this recipe is so versatile so over the years I’ve made a ton of different variations. Last year I made maple pecan and bacon shortbread bars which were devoured by my family.
This recipe starts with the base for the bars which is butter and icing sugar. I find using icing sugar makes them a little lighter and softer. I toast hazelnuts in a pan on the stovetop to release their oils and give them a deeper and nuttier flavour–half a cup gets mixed into the batter and the remaining hazelnuts get sprinkled on top at the end.
The secret to these hazelnut shortbreads are the chai simple syrup. It adds a little flavour to the batter itself, but it also makes for the perfect liquid ingredient for the glaze on top.
How to make chai simple syrup:
I make my chai simple syrup by boiling water with sugar and two chai tea bags for about 10-12 minutes, stirring frequently to avoid burning.
I remove the chai tea bags about halfway through–if you leave them in too long they will break apart. This will make about one cup of chai simple syrup, so you can use the rest for cocktails (yum!).
I use my stand mixer (or a hand mixer) to blend the butter with icing sugar and then mix in the flour and hazelnuts. I always finish by mixing with my hands–once the batter starts to clump together it’s ready to be poured into your prepared pan.
It may seem a little bit too crumbly–but don’t worry! You will press it together in the pan and it will all work out.
This recipe is basically foolproof and totally customizable–swap the hazelnuts for pecans or walnuts, and the chai tea simple syrup for any flavoured simple syrup you’d like, or maple syrup.
Which cookies will I be making this year? Here’s last years platter to give you a bit of an idea of what’s on tap. I’ll definitely be making my famous, Starbucks-worthy ginger molasses cookies along with a classic sugar cookies.
My peppermint chocolate cookies are also a simple, low-maintenance drop cookie that makes a good option for rounding out your holiday platter.
I think the key to a good holiday cookie basket is variety, you want to capture the holiday flavours of peppermint and gingerbread, as well as staples like sugar cookies or even chocolate chip cookies for a crowd-pleasing favourite.
Hazelnut Shortbread Bars with Chai Tea Glaze
For Chai tea simple syrup:
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 chai tea bags
For shortbread bars:
- ¾ cup butter, at room temperature
- ¾ cup icing sugar
- 1 tbsp chai tea simple syrup
- 1 ½ cups all purpose flour
- 1/3 cup chopped toasted hazelnut, divided
- 2 tbsp icing sugar
- 2 tbsp chai tea simple syrup
For chai tea simple syrup:
- In a small pot bring water, sugar and chai tea bags to a boil. Cook, stirring frequently for 10-12 minutes until sugar is dissolved and liquid has started to reduce. Remove tea bags halfway through cooking to avoid them breaking apart. Remove from heat and cool completely.
- Preheat oven to 350F and line an 8x8 baking pan with parchment paper.
- Heat a small pan over medium heat, toast chopped hazelnuts until aromatic about 3-5 minutes.
- Cream butter, icing sugar and cooled chai tea simple syrup together with a mixer at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Lightly mix in flour and toasted hazelnuts.
- Add 1/2 cup of chopped hazelnuts (reserving the rest for sprinkling at the end), and mix with hands until dough begins to clump together.
- Pour dough into prepared pan, it will be loose and crumbly, don't worry! Using your hands, pack it down. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until fully cooked. Remove from oven and allow to cool about 10 minutes, carefully remove from pan to a wire rack and allow to cool completely, about an hour.
- Meanwhile, make the glaze; whisk icing sugar with chai tea simple syrup.
- Once shortbread bars are cool, remove from baking pan, drizzle with chai tea glaze and sprinkle with remaining hazelnuts. Cut into 16 equal squares.
Let me know if you give these hazelnut shortbread bars a try in the comments below.