Rooibos cookies (3)
Tropical, floral, fruity and light, these rooibos tea infused cookies are abundant with delicious flavor. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

One of my favorite evening drinks is a hot cup of rooibos (“roy-bus”), also known as red tea or African honeybush tea. It has a soft, naturally vanilla-y flavor that reminds me a bit of my grandpa’s tobacco pipe and tends to calm me instantly. It’s delicious plain or with a splash of cream and honey, and it’s purely caffeine- free.

I never thought I’d love it any more than I already did – until I found a delightful new twist on it.  Speckled with tiny colorful flowers and flavored with vibrant fruit, Rooibos Capetown has quickly become my favorite hot drink. Its beauty is evident at once in three ways: sight, scent and taste.  And with every sip of it I’ve savored, I’ve succumbed to vividly imagining it being integrated into a dessert. This has proven to be a deliciously worthy daydream. Here’s my first of many sweet Capetown creations.

Rooibos cookies (1)
Sifting the almond meal, powdered sugar, salt and rooibos. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Rooibos Capetown cookies
(makes 80 cookies/40 little macaron-style sandwiches)

3 tablespoons Rooibos Capetown herbal tea
½ cup egg whites at room temperature
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
3.5 tablespoons granulated sugar
2.5 cups fine almond meal
2.75 cups powdered sugar
½ teaspoon salt
A large pastry bag with large, plain round tip

Rooibos cookies (6)
Piped circles of batter on a lined cookie sheet. Photo: Moriah Van Vleet

Line cookie sheets with parchment paper.  Use a mortar and pestle or spice grinder to break up the rooibos finely; set aside.  In a large bowl, beat egg whites on high until foamy. With mixer going, add cream of tartar, gradually add the granulated sugar, and keep beating until stiff, shiny peaks form.  In a separate bowl, sift together the almond meal, powdered sugar, salt and rooibos. (It’s OK if up to ¼ cup of larger pieces stay behind in the sifter.) With a large rubber spatula, fold the dry ingredients into the egg white mixture one cup at a time. Once all the ingredients are incorporated, press the batter against the side of the bowl as you stir it a few more times. It will be thick and pasty. Fill your pastry bag and pipe circles of about 1.25” diameter onto the lined cookie sheets, being careful to leave 1.25” between each cookie and to keep the size consistent. Dip your index finger in water and gently flatten the top of each cookie. Let cookies sit at room temperature, preferably in dry air, for at least 30 minutes or until tops no longer feel sticky.  Preheat oven to 325 F; bake the dried cookies for about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on baking sheets. The edges will be crispy and centers will be chewy, airy, and wonderfully full of fruity rooibos flavor.

Rooibos cookies (5)
The cookies are used to make a mango butter sandwich. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Mango butter filling

1 large ripe mango (about 1 pound)
3 ounces butter (3/4 stick)
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons lime juice
3 tablespoons cornstarch

Cube the mango, discarding peel and pit, then purée it in a food processor until smooth. Melt butter in a small saucepan, whisking in lime juice, sugar, and cornstarch. Keep stirring over low heat until mixture is bubbling and becoming thick, then add mango puree. Stir constantly as you bring it back to bubbling, cooking it for about 3-5 minutes. Immediately push mango butter through a sieve into a heatproof bowl; cover and chill. Use about a heaping teaspoon of the cool mango butter between each set of two cookies.

Tropical, floral, fruity and light, these cookies are abundant with delicious flavor. Their crisp, airy, chewy texture is surely satisfying, and their quick and low oven time lets the taste of the fragrant rooibos come through beautifully.

I’m so thankful to live near a friendly coffee roaster that carries this delicious tea (along with another favorite of mine, you might remember). Whether it’s in your dessert or in a hot mug alongside it, Rooibos Capetown makes a mouthwatering match with sweets. As an bonus, these treats are gluten-free; without the filling, they’re dairy-free, too.

Rooibos cookies (2)
These cookies are gluten-free. Without the filling, they’re dairy-free, too. Photo: Moriah VanVleet

Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind Butter Sugar Flowers where this post first appeared.

Tea and sympathy: the cake [12.03.12]

Bookmark Berkeleyside NOSH for East Bay food news and stories, and follow Berkeleyside NOSH on Twitter, and on Facebook.

Freelancer Moriah VanVleet is the voice behind butter, sugar, flowers, a blog she started in 2011 to showcase her original (and often unusual) dessert recipes. Her creations have since been mentioned by...