'We Should Cocoa', which is monthly cookery challenge to use a nominated extra ingredient in some form of chocolate product. This month's challenge was set by Choclette at Chocolate Log Blog, and her choice of added ingredient was TEA!
Tea is something I've never used in any form of cooking, let alone when baking with chocolate, and I did quite a bit of internet research before coming to a decision about what to cook. My first thought was green tea, but it's invariably partnered with white chocolate, which I don't really like much, and also seems to be becoming a bit of a baking cliché. More investigation was needed to find something using good old fashioned brown tea!
I had almost decided on these little thumbprint cookies when I read the comments about the original recipe on the Martha Stewart site, and decided there was too much risk of faliure with these! I really liked the idea of the Earl Grey tea flavoured filling, though, so decided to keep that and use it to sandwich some crisp biscuits.
I decided to keep the chocolate element subtle and to make some rich buttery biscuits, containing cocoa nibs and ground almonds. At this stage I had no real idea what the Earl Grey ganache would taste like, but I had a feeling that it wouldn't be a very strong flavour, and I didn't want to overwhelm it with a lot of other bigger flavours.
This turned out to be a good decision, as the tea flavour in the ganache was very mild once the tea infused cream was mixed with the white chocolate. This was a bit disappointing, as the tea infusion itself was quite strong with a definite bitter edge, but it was all overwhelmed by the sweetness of the white chocolate. Overall, the ganache wasn't very successful - besides drowning the tea flavour, it barely set, so that it was really difficult to sandwich the biscuits together without the ganache being squeezed out. Eating them was a bit of a trial too! The tea flavour came through better when the filled biscuits were chilled, as this took the edge off the sweetness of the ganache, but who wants to eat chilled biscuits?
The biscuits themselves were delicious, with an excellent texture, but not well enough flavoured - too light a hand with the added ingredients. If making these again I would add more almonds in place of some of the flour, and more almond extract and cocoa nibs!
115g salted butter, at room temperature
50g caster sugar
200g plain flour
1 tablespoon ground almonds
few drops almond extract
25g cocoa nibs
Sift the flour and cornflour together, the stir in the ground almonds.
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, then beat in the egg and the almond extract, together with a tablespoon of the flour mix.
Add the rest of the flour mix and the cocoa nibs, stirring to begin with, but using your hands as the mixture becomes stiffer. When all the flour is incorporated knead briefly to make a soft smooth dough.
Pat this into a thick circle, wrap in cling film and chill for 30 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 180C and line two baking sheets with parchment.
Roll the dough out to 3mm thick and cut out plain circles of dough with a 5.5cm cutter. Re-roll trimmings and cut more circles. Place onto baking sheets and bake for 15-20 minutes until just beginning to turn a pale golden colour.
Cool on the trays for 5 minutes then transfer to a wire rack. When cold sandwich two biscuits together with the Earl Grey White Chocolate Ganache.
Ganache - I made the ganache by bringing 100mls double cream to boiling point, removing from the heat, and dropping in 5 Earl Grey teabags. With a bit of encouragement (pressing with the back of a spoon), the tea flavour infused into the cream. When it tasted quite strong, I squeezed as much liquid as possible from the teabags before discarding them, then re-measured the cream, adding more to bring it back up to 100mls. I brought this back to boiling point in a small pan, then added 100g of chopped white chocolate, and immediately took the pan off the heat. After a few minutes, I stirred the mixture until the chocolate was completely melted and the ganache was smooth. Then I waited for it to cool and set... and waited.... and waited! I found something online which suggested 24 hours was needed to set white chocolate ganache properly, so I put the biscuits in a tin, covered the ganache and left them until the following day.
The following day, the ganache was a little thicker but still seemed to become more liquid with handling, so although I sandwiched a few pairs of biscuits successfully, the ganache was beginning to ooze by the sixth pair! I quickly took a few photographs and stuck the filled biscuits into the fridge.
I think this could be the beginnings of a quite successful recipe, but the ganache filling definitely needs more work. More chocolate? Less cream? Some way of getting more flavour into the cream, without wasting too much. Perhaps a different type of filling altogether. I've read that the flavour can be extracted from tea by steeping it in hot butter, so perhaps a buttercream filling would be easier.