Welp, I found my lost recipe! Phew. And just in time for autumn to arrive — it’s starting to feel a bit chilly in Boulder! I know, I know… Fall is still a dirty word for some of you : ) But I am lovin’ it. I’ve been sipping on tea and nibbling on these tea squares to keep warm.
I had been dreaming of these for a while (read: years) before I attempted a weeklong baking extravaganza during a heatwave last month to finally get a recipe hammered out. I had been frequently disappointed that most tea squares didn’t seem much different than a cookie bar; I wanted them to be distinctly TEA squares — to have tea in them. Thus, these (vegan, GF) tea squares — unlike most I’ve seen — actually contain tea leaves. That may make you curious, freaked out, or titillated. I love tea, so you can imagine where I fell on that spectrum… Anyway, awkwardness aside, these are the perfect pastry-biscuit hybrid to bring to a brunch or — if you have really cool friends and do things like this — a tea party. Why yes, I do plan on having one sometime soon — complete with cucumber sandwiches. How did you guess?
I tried three flavors…
#1 — Rooibos.
An African red tea that is sweet, perhaps nutty, and reminds me of honey.
My mom had a little breakdown when she thought I was taking them home with me. She was a fan.
#2 — Earl Grey.
A nice combination of “bite” from the black tea and citrus, with the balancing undertones of sweetness from the agave.
A classic! I would eat these on the regular.
#3 — Chai.
A comforting blend of aromatic spices and herbs like cardamom, fennel, cinnamon, ginger, and cloves.
It tasted like autumn!
I played with this recipe quite a bit, and though I kind of disagreed with the majority of my (20) tasters (I liked mine with a little less oil and sweetener), I am posting the most popular variation; ’twas hands-down the winner. These bars are chewy, moist but firm, and sweet enough to feel like a treat without being a dessert. This is what I would call a Grown-Up Cookie — unique, mature flavors, and just a hint of that pretentious gourmet flair that you get from classy food magazines. You know what I’m talking about.
Work that pretentious pinky. Work it.
I do not recommend using tea from a bag in this recipe… Don’t be misled by the Twinings in the photo — that was to drink, not to bake with. It would be far too mild to even detect. Instead, you can get just the amount of loose leaf tea you need from many bulk spice sections of grocery stores. My store carries organic and fair trade Frontier brand spices and teas, so that’s what I used. The BFF Manfriend found that one of the teas was a little too big and rough in a couple of the bars, but I didn’t mind the crunch. If you are worried about this, feel free to chop the leaves a tad with a chef’s knife or whir ‘em briefly in a food processor first. These are also pretty heavy on the tea leaves, so you may want to use less for a subtler flavor.
True Tea Squares — GF, Vegan, Grain-Free
2 C almond flour
1/4 C loose tea leaves (do not use tea from a bag!)
1/2 t salt
1/4 C coconut oil
1/4 C agave (or honey)
1 TB vanilla
1) Preheat oven to 350*.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Add wet ingredients to dry and thoroughly combine with hands.
4) Using wet hands (to prevent sticking), press dough into an 8″ x 8″ glass pan.
5) Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown on bottom and top.
Oh, and by-the-by (<– someone please explain this phrase to me)… This weekend, I made one of the best recipes I have ever concocted. Ever. And it has three ingredients.
And I am dying to share it with you.
That is all.
Have a great Labor Day!
Do tea squares freak you out, or excite you?