I’ve never been a huge fan of sandwich cookies (though full disclosure, I have been known to enjoy the better part of a package of Bourbon Creams when I get the chance!). But I saw these two recipes and thought they both sounded wonderful, and thought I could “pretty them up” a bit for teatime.
So the cookies for these are on opposite ends of the chocolate and vanilla spectrum, but have citrus in the fillings of both to help them go well together on the same tea plate.
The Chocolate Earl Grey Cookies came from Rick Rodgers and his Tea and Cookies book, while the Lemon Tea Cookies came originally from Taste of Home.
Couple of things I would note about both of these cookies:
- Firstly, they are both delicious! The cookies are melt in your mouth – the chocolate is super chocolately and the vanilla is not overly sweet. And the fillings are a perfect match – the tart lemon balances out the vanilla cookie wonderfully, and the citrusy flavor of the milk chocolate ganache does the same for the dark chocolate cookie.
- I think next time I would actually make just the cookies without the filling and just serve them as individual tea cookies. In this case, I’d probably sweeten the vanilla cookie just a little bit more and add lemon zest (or other spice) directly to the cookie. And add orange zest directly to the chocolate cookie (and maybe some cinnamon too). But I think they would be just as nice with a cup of tea, and they’d probably keep a little longer without the fillings in the middle to soften the cookies.
I love a slice-and-bake cookie, which these both are – they don’t have a lot of ingredients and can be made ahead of time and frozen until you’re ready to pull them out and bake them.
I don’t know if it’s just my palate, but whenever I try to infuse chocolate with Earl Grey (like the filling for these), I have trouble tasting the Earl Grey tea flavor. Even when it’s milk chocolate and not a darker chocolate. So I added the additional orange zest to reinforce the citrus, along with the tablespoon of Earl Grey.
I piped both of my fillings with a star tip, but it really wasn’t necessary – both fillings were soft enough when I piped them that the nice lines of the star tip didn’t really stay. I still find it easier to pipe than spread, though. And they both firmed up nicely in the fridge after the cookies were assembled.
The original recipes didn’t have the chocolate decor on the top, but I can’t seem to resist trying it out! Just took the same approach – melted white, milk and dark chocolate for the chocolate cookies, and melted white chocolate with food coloring to make the lemons on the top of the lemon cookies. And a little of the chocolate goes a long way – it really doesn’t take much!
I searched online for a color illustration of a lemon to work from, and searched on “flourish illustrations” to get some ideas on some easy flourishes for the top of the chocolate cookies. Just tried to keep it simple – piping is not my strong point! But of course one could serve them with no flourishes or decor as well.
I do think they make a nice tea plate – nice contrasting but complementary flavors and colors that go well with a cup of tea!
Chocolate Earl Grey Cookies
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1/2 c. Dutch-processed cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/4 c. packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 c. heavy cream
- 1 Tbsp. Earl Grey tea leaves
- Zest of 1 orange
- 4 oz. milk chocolate, finely chopped
- Optional: Chocolate decoration on the top – 2 oz. white, milk and dark chocolate bars and tipless piping bags
DirectionsTo make the cookies, sift together the flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt. Separately, in a medium bowl on high speed, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Gradually beat in the granulated and brown sugars until the mixture is light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to make a soft dough.
Divide the dough into three parts, rolling them to logs about 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap in parchment or wax paper. Refrigerate until the dough is chilled and firm enough to cut and hold its shape, at least 2 hours, and up to 2 days (you can wrap in aluminum foil and put in the freezer overnight). If the dough is chilled to very hard, let stand about 10 minutes before slicing so the cookie slices don’t crack.
Preheat the oven to 350° F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the dough rolls into 1/4-inch thick rounds and place about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake until the cookies feel firm when lightly pressed, about 12 minutes. (If you bake two sheets at a time, switch the sheets about halfway through the baking time.) Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks and let cool completely.
To make the ganache, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from heat and stir in the tea and orange zest, and let steep for 5 minutes. Strain the cream mixture through a sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the tea/rind to get as much cream as you can to drip back into the bowl. Return the strained cream to the saucepan and reheat to a simmer.
Put the chocolate into a small heat-proof bowl and pour the hot cream mixture over the chocolate, letting it soften, about 3 minutes. Stir with a small spatula until the chocolate melts and it turns into a smooth chocolate mixture and the chocolate is completely melted. Place the small bowl in a larger bowl of ice water and let stand, stirring and scraping the sides of the bowl often with the spatula, until cooled and thickened to a spreadable mix. (This takes quite a while – I ended up putting the mix into the fridge and stirring occasionally for a couple of hours before it was thickened enough to spread in between the cookies.)
Pipe or spread the chocolate ganache on one of the cookie halves (about 2 teaspoons) and cover with a second cookie. Complete the rest of the cookie sandwiches. Put the cookies in the fridge for at least an hour to let them firm up.
If you want to decorate the cookies with some melted chocolate, simply take white, milk and/or dark chocolate and melt it in the microwave – 20-30 seconds at a time, stirring until it’s melted enough to put in a piping bag. Pipe on whatever chocolate flourishes desired, let firm up on a wire cooling rack or in a single layer of an airtight container in the fridge.
The cookies will keep in the fridge for a couple of days; the ganache will soften the cookies, so they should be made a day or so before you intend to serve them (or you could freeze them, but make sure to let them thaw out before serving).
Lemon Vanilla Tea Cookies
- 3/4 c. butter, softened
- 1/2 c. sugar
- 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3 Tbsp. butter, softened
- 4 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
- 1 heaping tsp. of lemon zest (or half lemon, half orange)
- 1 1/2 c. powdered sugar
- 1 drop yellow food coloring (optional)
- Optional: Lemon decoration on the top – 4 oz. white chocolate bar, yellow and green food coloring and tipless piping bags
DirectionsFor the cookies, in a large bowl, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (and color turns almost white), 5-7 minutes. Beat in the egg yolk and vanilla, then gradually add the flower on low speed and mix well until everything is incorporated.
Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 1-and-1/8-inch roll. Wrap in parchment or wax paper and refrigerate overnight.
Unwrap the dough and cut into 1/4-inch slices, placing them 2 inches apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 400° F for 8-10 minutes, or until golden brown around the edges. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
To make the filling, in a small bowl, cream the butter, lemon juice and lemon zest until fluffy. Gradually add the powdered sugar until smooth. Tint yellow if desired. Pipe or spread about 1 teaspoon of the filling on the bottoms of the plain cookies and place the other half over the filling.
If you wish to decorate with a piped lemon on the top cookie, melt 4 oz. of white chocolate bar, then split into three parts (the most for the yellow, less for green and just a small bit for the white). Color with one drop of each food coloring (I used Americolor gel coloring – lemon yellow and leaf green); leave the white as is. Mix and put into tipless piping bags. Cut a very small hole in the bag, and pipe a lemon with a stem and leaf, and white reflection in the lemon to finish the cookies.
Put in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to make sure the filling sets, then serve.
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