Food & Cooking

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Earl Grey Ganache

I love, love, love petit desserts. Lately I’ve been scouring library books for new ideas on petit sweets, and one book that I enjoyed is called Tea and Cookies by Rick Rodgers. I especially enjoyed the introduction to the book, in which Rodgers talks about the history of tea and about different types of tea. For example, tables at tea gardens used to have little locked boxes on them, and if patrons wanted their tea quickly so that it would still be hot, they would drop coins inside. The boxes were labeled “T.I.P.S.,” which stood for “To insure prompt service,” starting the tradition of tipping we know today (although now we tip after the meal). Pretty interesting, huh?

A few recipes peaked my interest in Tea and Cookies, but the one I decided to try first was “Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Earl Grey Ganache.” My friend Caitlin’s favorite tea is earl grey, and since she recently had her baby, I thought it would be a perfect treat to try to make for her last week. Today was a rainy day so I made them again, thinking they would be perfect for a future tea party!IMG_1083You start by making dough for the cookies, which turn out to be similar to chocolate sugar cookies. I chopped up my butter in chunks to make it easier to whip up.IMG_1084Once you’ve reached a creamy consistency, you add brown and white sugar and beat until fluffy and well-incorporated.IMG_1087Next up, it’s time to sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. I just love how sifted ingredients look like a sweet, airy pillow!IMG_1088You then gradually add the sifted mixture to the butter and sugar mixture until it becomes a dough, and then roughly shape it into a log.IMG_1089I used parchment paper to help roll the log into more of an even shape, rolling it over the counter to make the dough smooth.IMG_1090 IMG_1091Once you’re happy with your dough, cut it into three equal slices and refrigerate for 2 hours or up to 2 days. The first time I made this recipe, I was in a bit of a time crunch and just froze the dough for about 30 minutes, and I got the same results.IMG_1093Once your dough has been cooled in the fridge or freezer, cut 1/4″ slices and lay them an inch apart on baking sheets.IMG_1095While the cookies are baking, you can start working on the ganache. The recipe calls for 4 ounces of milk chocolate, so if you’re using a Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bar, you’ll want to remove about a square and a half from the 4.4 oz bars to have the correct measurement. You should probably eat those extra pieces, just to make sure they don’t go disappearing elsewhere on you.IMG_1096To make the ganache, you first you bring heavy whipping cream to a simmer on the stove top…IMG_1097…and then you turn off the heat and add earl grey tea, letting it simmer for 5 minutes.IMG_1100Next you strain the tea, pushing down on the leaves…IMG_1101…and then you bring the cream mixture to a simmer again before adding it to the chocolate and mixing until smooth. IMG_1102Once the mixture is smooth, it’s time to put the bowl over another bowl with ice water so that you can whip it into a ganache. I think I may have over whipped my ganache, so the color was lighter than I thought it would be both times I made it, but the flavor was still really nice. IMG_1107                Someone thought he was tricky and stole a cookie! That naughty, naughty Chad… IMG_1108Pipe or spread the ganache on half of your finished cookies, and gently sandwich them together.IMG_1109                                                                           Then, enjoy!
IMG_1110I love how pretty these cookies are, and also how wonderful the balance of flavors plays out in the recipe. The earl grey notes in the ganache brighten up the richness of the chocolate cookies with a subtle, yet bright citrus flavor.  I think pairing these with a straight tea (like earl grey, perhaps!) or coffee would be just divine. You can find the full recipe for the cookies here on the Rick Rodgers website.

Now that I’ve enjoyed Tea and Cookies by Rodgers, I’m interested in looking at some of his other books, such as Kaffeehaus: Exquisite Desserts from the Classic Cafes of Vienna, Budapest and Prague. What are some of your favorite pastries and pastry books?

Summer Bucket List

Summer Bucket List: A “Pretentious” Tea Party

Earlier this week, some lovely ladies got together at my house for a “pretentious” tea party. I am so excited to share pretty pictures from the event with you!

img_2789img_2790First off, allow me to introduce the guests! Left to right above: Me, Amanda, Caitlin and Tia.

img_2791Also present (and behind the camera of many of the photos): Ariel!

img_2787Next up, take a look at our pretty spread! Amanda brought most of the fine dishes and decor for the party, Caitlin brought the elegant flowers, and everyone contributed to the delicious food and tea.img_2783img_2782 (2)10489725_10202675903719276_4100630429800771750_nThe food: Lemon bars, tea brined chicken, cranberry feta salad, pickle wraps, fruit salad, tartlets, coconut macarons, watermelon pickles, and vanilla orange biscotti. The tea: Blueberry Green, Amazon Lemon (green Yerbe matte), French Breakfast, and Moroccan Mint.

10583936_10202675907799378_5557907018885636322_nIMG_20140723_174610_833Are you drooling over how delicious this looks? I know, I was too. Please just pat your lips delicately with a napkin so we can keep up the pretense, okay? IMG_20140723_174637_213Hello, dessert. (You may remember Dame Eyola’s Lemon Tart? That recipe is nearly identical to the lemon bars I made. Oh, and remember when Ariel made similar coconut macarons before?) I was pretty happy with my tartlets as that was the first time I made pie crust from scratch. It was surprisingly easy! Caitlin was responsible for the delicious biscotti, which paired wonderfully with the French Breakfast tea. IMG_20140723_174445_557 IMG_20140723_173937_262img_2786img_2785Tartlets and watermelon pickles

img_2792After lots of talking, laughing, and eating, we all teamed up for clean-up time. We were able to get everything put away in no time (though that could have to do with the fact that we gave up on manners after about five minutes and started indulging in food like no one was watching, hence leaving little food to put away!).IMG_0900For a perfect end to the evening, we headed to Odd Side Ales for a beer. How we had room in our tummies after that delectable meal is something of a mystery, but you know how I love a good beer. What a successful evening!

Have you ever attended a tea party? What is your favorite dish for tea party events? (Check out my pinterest board for other tea party ideas in the future!)

Take care darlings!

xx Caitlyn

Food & Cooking · Monday Matters

A Little Surprise for My Coworkers (and a check off my Summer Fun Bucket List!)

I’m not going to lie: training at Starbucks has often left me feeling like my mind was going to explode with all of the information necessary to remember right from the start. It has been hard for me to go from being a confident, competent leader, to starting something completely new. I’ve been feeling pretty vulnerable, which I guess is a good way to grow, but not my favorite way to feel for sure.

Anyway, for the most part my coworkers have been pretty understanding and patient with me as I’ve been learning (and forgetting, and relearning, and making tons of mistakes). So, I decided it might be nice to start the week off with these delicious Pineapple Upside-Down Minis as a sort of thank you to my coworkers.

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I was trying to think of what might be good to make when I remembered this recipe from A Beautiful Mess, and then–to top off the greatness of the idea–I remembered making these little lovelies was something on my Summer Fun Bucket List! That’s two birds with one stone 😉

I had a lot of the batter left over after making a double batch (after all, we had to test a few to make sure they were suitable for bringing to work!), so after making 24 cupcake-sized delights, I made a little more of the brown sugar, whiskey & butter topping, and drizzled it into a glass bread pan. I also sprinkled in a few extra chunks of pineapple and cherry halves before filling it with the remaining batter.

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Not necessarily the prettiest, but I’m sure it’s just as yummy as the cupcakes! (Also, that’s pineapple mango jam I made in the background! Jam Recipe here.)

And so, I now also have a Pineapple Upside-Down Loaf! Yum!!

Have a happy Monday! 🙂