Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies Recipe (2024)

By Susan Spungen

Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies Recipe (1)

Total Time
45 minutes, plus chilling
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In case you’re wondering about the name of this cakey, chewy-edged cookie, which nearly explodes through its sugary crust, it’s a nod to a coffee bar creation in which a shot of espresso tops off a cup of masala chai, the Indian spiced tea. It’s right at home on a traditional holiday cookie plate, thanks to its festive cinnamon, cardamom, ginger and cloves. Feel free to add a little freshly grated nutmeg, if you’re so inclined. A strong coffee flavor adds nuance; black pepper lends a spicy kick; and malted milk powder, browned butter and brown sugar all contribute toasty warm notes to this craveable treat.

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Yield:2 dozen cookies

  • 1tablespoon finely ground espresso (not instant espresso) or finely ground coffee
  • ½cup/115 grams cold unsalted butter (1 stick)
  • 2cups/255 grams all-purpose flour
  • 2tablespoons malted milk powder, such as Carnation brand
  • 1teaspoon baking powder
  • 1teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½teaspoon ground cardamom
  • teaspoon ground cloves
  • ½teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½teaspoon finely ground black pepper
  • 2large eggs
  • ¾cup/165 grams light brown sugar
  • 2teaspoons vanilla extract or paste
  • ¼cup/50 grams granulated sugar, for rolling
  • ½cup/50 grams confectioners’ sugar, sifted, for rolling

Ingredient Substitution Guide

Nutritional analysis per serving (24 servings)

124 calories; 4 grams fat; 3 grams saturated fat; 0 grams trans fat; 1 gram monounsaturated fat; 0 grams polyunsaturated fat; 20 grams carbohydrates; 0 grams dietary fiber; 11 grams sugars; 2 grams protein; 64 milligrams sodium

Note: The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies Recipe (2)


  1. Step


    Put espresso or coffee in a small metal bowl. Put butter in a small saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, swirling and stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until nutty brown, 5 to 6 minutes. Add the butter to the bowl with the espresso and stir to combine. Set aside to cool, stirring occasionally, while you prepare the rest of the cookie.

  2. Step


    Combine the flour, malted milk powder, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk to combine thoroughly and set aside.

  3. Combine eggs and light brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium speed until well combined and slightly paler, about 3 minutes, scraping bowl as needed.

  4. Step


    Add the vanilla and the butter mixture, then mix on low speed until combined. Add the flour mixture, then mix again on low until combined. Transfer dough to a resealable glass or plastic container, and chill thoroughly, at least 2 hours and up to 3 days.

  5. Step


    Heat oven to 350 degrees. Put granulated sugar and confectioners’ sugar into two separate bowls. Use a small cookie scoop to portion dough into heaping tablespoons (about 25 grams each). Roll into smooth balls and drop a few at a time into the bowl of granulated sugar, rolling to coat. Transfer to the bowl with the confectioners’ sugar. Roll gently, coating well, then transfer to a parchment- or silicone mat-lined baking sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between cookies. Place in freezer until firm, about 10 minutes.

  6. Step


    Bake until cookies are golden underneath but still quite tender (they will firm up as they cool), 12 to 14 minutes. Let cool a few minutes on the baking sheets and transfer to wire racks to cool completely. Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for 1 week.



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Cooking Notes


What is malted milk powder? Is there a substitution?


These turned out perfectly for me and are a great not-too-sweet and beautiful cookie to add to a Christmas cookie mix. I melted just half the butter, as a different cookie made with melted butter turnout flat as pancakes, and creamed the rest of the butter (at room temp) with the sugar until combined, then added eggs, then the espresso mixture. I used instant espresso, which is milder and less bitter than coffee—but you must whisk into melted butter or it will clump.


Love the taste of these! Yes-they are a "cakey" cookie. I used fresh-bought spices to ensure the flavor comes through. Here are some other things I did a bit differently: 1. I omitted the malted milk powder to no apparent detriment 2. Before I coated in sugar, I lightly pressed down the dough. Then roll in sugars and be sure to freeze. I do this because I found my first batch didn't spread out as much as I wanted them to. 3. I have been baking them at 350F for around 13-15 minutesEnjoy!


EXCELLENT!Followed the recipe along with a few troubleshooting tips from the comments. *Ingredients: -Added nutmeg & cardamom to bolster flavour-Used 2 tsps instant espresso and 1 tsp cocoa in place of malted milk and real espresso*Rolling: -Rolled 24 balls immediately in gran. sugar, stored in the fridge overnight. -Rolled once, heavily, in icing sugar, letting then put in fridge while oven preheated. Came out exactly as pictured.Make these NOW. I'm making a second batch as I type


I baked these this AM (refrigerated the dough last night). Since other bakers found them a bit dry I rolled them a bit larger than suggested and baked them for 12-13 minutes. The texture is good! I found the coffee flavor a bit overwhelming as well and I am a coffee lover.The black pepper gives them a nice little kick. I will use a little more ginger next time - it's a nice balance of flavors.


I used Ovaltine Classic Malt mix from Nestle


Subbed cocoa powder for espresso to make them caffeine-free, they tasted great! Also used hot cocoa mix instead of malted milk powder. Perfect amount of sweetness. Bake for 15 minutes.

Robert Wemischner

Yes, they are very dry and powdery...need more fat and less flour. Mine didnt come out nearly as dark as the photograph and let them bake for at least 20-25 minutes, not the 10-12 that the recipe indicates.

Elizabeth Mundell

Flavor is great. But timing is difficult. I baked the first batch for 12 minutes, the bottoms were definitely golden, but the cookie was doughy (under baked). 15 minutes was better.

Kaylee W.

Chai tea lover over here, and wow, such a delicious cookie. Like others, I reduced my coffee to about 1½ teaspoons to not overpower the chai spices. Grated in fresh nutmeg too. I use King Arthur's Weight Chart, so my 2 cups of flour was only about 240g, not the 255g like the recipe states. I read others' reviews that there was too much flour so perhaps a little slightly less flour helped not to dry it out. Chilled the dough overnight. Baked for 14 minutes. Happy chai dance!


The first time I made them I found the coffee overpowered all of the spices, so I used 2 tsp instead of 1 tbsp and it worked out great. They also needed more fat and less flour (turned out dry the first time). I also did a little personal adjustment to make them a bit more Christmasy: I added a tsp if almond extract. It really added to them and lightened the flavor so they weren’t so rich.


I note some folks complaining that the espresso overpowers the spices. I think this recipe will skew one way or the other based on how fresh your spices are. I ground the cloves, black pepper, and cardamom just before baking and found the cookies had a lovely spice to them. If you are using pre-ground spices, consider increasing the amounts to add more kick.


Wanted to love these! Made these today and found 1) the coffee overpowered all of the chai spice I craved and 2) the cookie was a little cakey/dry. (I did not weigh flour but did fluff and spoon it to ensure my cups were not heavy and I finely ground the coffee). I tested underlayer of sugar with both sparkling sugar and granulated. The sparkling sugar adds a bit of, well, sparkle.

rachel c

Did a previous step say to mix the butter and espresso with the vanilla or did I miss something?


I weighed the flour (which ended up being a spoonful or two less than the fluff and scoop method) and also omitted the malted milk powder. I only baked them for about 10-11 minutes per tray - hard to tell when they're golden due to the color of the dough, but took them out when they looked dry in the cracks on top. They definitely don't flatten out or spread. I'd say they're cakey more than dry, and best served with coffee or tea. Great flavor from the spices!

Diane Moore

Sneaking into my cookie stores to get one more ... Of the variety of cookies I made this past holiday season, these were my fav. I now have a lifetime supply of malted milk power (which was no easy trick to find in the grocery store, high on a shelf). But ... all worth it. These cookies, exactly as written, were addictive.


Huge hit with my family this Christmas. Followed the recipe as is, though I did screw up and accidentally added the coffee to the butter when I was browning it, they still turned out great. They didn't come out dry or anything as others mentioned. Will definitely make them again.


Came out just like the photo! These are a delicious, cake-y, not too sweet cookie that really does taste like a chai latte with a kick. I followed the recipe with one exception--I refuse to buy ingredients only to use a spoonful and waste the rest, so I omitted the malted milk powder. The cookies tasted perfect without it, so I'm not sure what it adds to the recipe. Leaving it out worked out for me just fine. These will be a repeat in my house!


Like other commenters, my cookies were on the dry side. Great flavor and very easy.


Wonderful! Light & delicate with a wonderfully spicy warmth. Keeping them as cold as possible was key to achieving the look and keeping the mess down. Make a few balls then pop the dough back in the fridge while you coat them in sugar! The dough shouldnt stick to your hands at all. Dont skip chilling before baking.Alterations: - doubled the spice mix (gave it a nice ginger kick!)- no malted milk powder, replaced with 1 scant tbs flourMy oven runs hot, so 330˚F was perfect for 14 minutes.


We love these cookies, but as they came out of the oven tonight, I realized that a 25g cookie is HUGE! If you want a bite-size cookie or a size you can put in a tray to share, I suggest you make them half the size.


Very subtle, not too sweet. but flavorful cookies. Really something special! Mine didn't rise as much and did not have the crinkly/cracked texture shown in photo.


Best. Cookie. Ever.I couldn’t find malted milk power so I substituted non fat dry milk in the same amount and added another 1/4 c brown sugar. Came out perfectly. A thousand times I’ll repeat this recipe.


I'm so sad to give a one star but they were dry and honestly tasteless, except for the scent of spices and coffee. I followed all directions and made no substitutions. Sad.


Please amend the directions to show when to add the vanilla. I assume it goes into the butter-espresso mixture after being taken off the heat.


These cookies are pretty good! I made a few modifications, since I didn't want to add espresso/coffee or cocoa:1. Boiled about 1/6 to 1/4 cup water and added a small amount of Earl Grey tea to make tea2. Added spices, salt and pepper to butter while it browned3. Added a small amount of extra flour to compensate for tea4. Omitted the coffee and malted milk powder. Baked 14 minutes at 350 F. Cookies turned out very nice & cake-like as described. Not flat at all.


These are incredible! I used Diaspora spices and these are some of my favorite cookies to make for the holidays. They’re definitely a favorite when gifted.

Randy Richter

I made the recipe exactly as published. Yield was 26 perfectly crackled soft cookies. I do not think the full Tablespoon of ground espresso is overwhelming at all. If I make them again, I will flatten them slightly before freezing and baking. In some ways they seemed a little undercooked. I doubt they will ever be my favorite cookie.

Babs G

Every Christmas guest who tried this cookie loved it. I froze the dough for a few days and it was fine. I also used instant espresso but may dissolve it in a tiny bit of boiling water next time as it got a bit clumpy in the butter. However, it didn’t seem to effect the delicate flavor.


non Americanpresume 350 degrees is 350 Fahrenheit?thanks



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Dirty Chai Earthquake Cookies Recipe (2024)
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