Hannah Carapellotti, Senior Arts Editor: As a self-professed Swiftie, I can’t believe I haven’t tried Taylor’s chai cookies before now. I constantly see TikTok videos of people making them and have had the recipe bookmarked on my phone for several weeks, but I haven’t had a true opportunity until today. One thing I’m nervous about is the chai. I’m not a big tea drinker — I don’t understand the hype, if I’m being honest — so I’ll be curious to see how strongly the tea leaves will come through in the recipe. Baking is one of those things I do when I’m either looking for something to do with a friend or really in the mood to experiment with a new recipe, and in this case, I’ve got both of those opportunities! I’m ready to jump (then fall) into making these cookies.
Sabriya Imami, Managing Arts Editor: As a self-professed amateur baker, it seems crazy that I haven’t made these cookies yet. I’ve been wanting to for such a long time, but for some reason, I just never went through with it. I think it’s because I was so afraid that I wouldn’t like them — maybe the chai flavor would be too overwhelming, or they wouldn’t be the sugar cookie consistency I’m used to. I just couldn’t bear the idea of not loving Taylor Swift’s recipe … so I just never made them. Ignorance is bliss, right? That being said, I’m finally ready to take this leap (and jump head first, fearless) and make these cookies. It’s Red (Taylor’s Version) season (or as non-Swifties call it, fall), so it only seems right.
Editor’s Note: This discussion has been edited for clarity.
SI: So, the process itself, what happened? I feel like, considering the fact that we made these cookies in your apartment kitchen, with materials that you had in your apartment or that your roommates were letting us use, this went about as well as I could have expected it to go.
HC: The way you just said that makes it sound like this was so not put together well; I bought the flour and sugars that we needed!
SI: I think I was worried that we were going to be scrambling, especially with the chai, so I was thinking, “Oh no, what if this doesn’t turn out well?” But you know what, it did! And they were very good.
HC: Yeah, one of my roommates had a one-pound bag of chai tea that she said I was more than welcome to use. So that was really good because I did not want to spend money on a whole box of tea that I certainly wasn’t going to drink. But the recipe called for us to cut open a tea bag and dump the leaves in there, and we didn’t have that. We just had this one-pound bag. I remember I tried looking up, “how much is in a typical tea bag?” and I couldn’t find a single thing. We also spilled a bunch of powdered sugar.
SI: It happens. That’s life. That’s the life of a baker. Have you seen “Bake Off?” Anyway, I feel like the actual baking was pretty much exactly what you’d expect from baking. We just Taylor Swift-ified it by listening to her music the whole time, and while waiting for the cookie dough to chill, obviously we watched the Reputation Stadium Tour, because why would we not? I think that really enhanced our experience. Wouldn’t you agree?
HC: I would 100% agree. And I mean, it was a perfect excuse to watch the Reputation Stadium Tour again.
SI: Not that we need an excuse to watch it again.
HC: Correct. We also burned the bottoms of the cookies.
SI: Oh, I forgot about that. I think it’s because there was no parchment paper.
HC: Probably. I didn’t even think about that! That was the one thing we didn’t have.
SI: The bottoms looked so burnt that I was wondering, “oh no, are these going to taste burnt on the bottom and raw otherwise?” But they didn’t even taste burnt; the consistency was right. It’s basically just a sugar cookie recipe, and they tasted how sugar cookies are supposed to taste.
HC: The recipe said to bake the cookies for, what, 10 or 12 minutes? So we took them out and they still looked like the balls that we’d rolled them into.
SI: Raw. Yeah, and you almost burned yourself.
HC: Oh my god, I did! I was flattening them with the spatula and almost touched the side of the super-hot tray.
SI: So I guess that’s one thing I’d make sure to do next time, is to flatten them into little discs before putting them in the oven so that you don’t almost burn yourself.
HC: Or just take them out when you’re supposed to take them out. We put them back in for another, like, five minutes because we thought they weren’t done, and then we flattened them and they were fine.
SI: And they tasted very much like fall, which I think was exactly what we were hoping for.
HC: Yeah, I agree.
SI: And the icing really made them look good. Very cinnamon-y, very nutmeg-y. I could have eaten a bowl of just that, even though that would have been probably disgusting because of all the powdered sugar.
HC: No, that was me cleaning up! We had started by just drizzling the cookies with frosting, and then I dipped them all instead and we had the perfect amount for all two dozen cookies. And then there was still a little bit for me to scoop out and eat on a spoon.
SI: I don’t even think there were any big mishaps besides the bottoms burning, and even that wasn’t that big of a deal.
HC: Yeah, I don’t think so.
SI: I think this is absolutely something that college kids can replicate in their apartment kitchen.
HC: Yeah, highly recommend it. I think it’s a Swiftie rite of passage.
SI: Agreed! And they’re really easy. It didn’t take us that long. We were making a TikTok at the same time, which maybe extended our actual prep time. But I think if you were to just focus on the cookies, maybe not get distracted by the Taylor Swift songs you’re inevitably listening to in the background, yeah, it would only take you a few minutes.
HC: I still have to edit that TikTok and post it.
HC: All of my roommates tried the cookies, and they said they were “very autumnal.” You and I didn’t really taste the chai when we first tried them, but my roommate, who let us use her chai, said she could.
SI: Oh, so maybe we did it right! Yeah, I think (the chai) added a little bit of like, a lingering flavor in the back, but it wasn’t as at the forefront as I thought it would be. Honestly, you could also make these without the chai and just have it be cinnamon and nutmeg icing, and it’d be just fine. Yeah, but otherwise the reception to these cookies, I would say was very very good.
HC: Oh yeah. My roommates, especially. The next day, that plate was gone.
SI: I don’t even think I got one the next night. We had a movie night with a couple of the other (Michigan) Daily editors and staffers and they all loved them very much. They demolished those cookies.
HC: I had, like, three. Lillian (Pearce) was in our TikTok and gave us a big thumbs-up.
SI: I think the real question now is, would Taylor approve?
SI: I agree. I think she would be flattered.
HC: Yes, I think she would be very proud of us.
SI: Based on my Instagramming knowledge and my Google searching, she made these for the 1989 secret sessions. That’s funny to me because this feels like a very Red cookie, but you know what, I think regardless it’s very Taylor Swift. I think it fits her, and I think it’s very fitting that we decided to make these (when we did). Do I think we should make them again when Midnights comes out? Yeah, I think it’s only right.