Earl Grey Tea Cookies

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I told you I was a little obsessed with baking cookies! This time I’m sharing a delicious tea infused cookie recipe.  Ever since I was little, I liked nothing more than to curl up with a good book, a hot cup of tea and some cookies. I just thought that there was no better way to while away the afternoon. Nowadays, I like to bake away the day, but there’s always enough time to sit back, pour myself some tea and curl up with a good book (or a text book) and eat delicious snacks straight out of the oven.  Sure freshly baked cookies may have resulted in burnt fingers and tongues (not that I have multiple tongues), but I learned that it’s just so worth it.

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I came across this recipe for tea flavored cookies at Food 52, a fun website where I peruse recipes and cry over the beautiful bakeware that I have yet to afford.  These cookies called for rooiboos tea, which I really like, but did not have on hand.  Instead I just used what tea I had and that was earl grey.  When I first made the recipe, I basically followed it to a tea (hehehe) except when I bit into them I was disappointed to find out that they were overly sweet. The sweetness of the sugar had completely overwhelmed the subtle notes of Bergamot and I was crushed.  But since I could pinpoint what the problem was, I squared my shoulders and made a second batch.  These were much better. I also shaped them differently and I like them much better than the round ones.  I think that these cookies could be made with any tea of your choice, so go for it! I’m even thinking of making these with jasmine tea. I always though jasmine had such a lovely floral scent….

Anyway, let’s get started! Or else I’ll just drift off into blissful daydreams about tea and forget all about this post.

Ingredients:

-1/4 cup vanilla sugar
-2 tbsp Earl Grey tea leaves (about 5 teabags)
-1 1/2 cup AP flour
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 tsp vanilla
-2 tsp milk

Directions:

  1. Toast the tea leaves in a small pan until fragrant. Transfer them into a bowl and allow them to cool. Crush the tea leaves with a spice grinder our your fingers to get rid of any large tea leaves. You don’t want them getting caught in your teeth afterwards.
  2. Mixed the crushed tea leaves, sugar and butter in a large mixing bowl until well combined.  Add the flour and mix until combined.
  3. Once the flour is all incorporated, add in the milk and the vanilla and mix until a dough begins to form.
  4. Gather the dough into a ball and roll gently into a log. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Now at this point you can keep the cookies round or you can shape the log into a square by shaping the dough using the table. I like the bring the press the log down a bit so that the bottom flattens and rotate the dough and repeat until it’s a perfectly shaped square.
  5. Chill the dough in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.
  6. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  7. Take the dough out of the fridge and slice into 1/3 inch thick slices.  Lay them out on the parchment paper about 1 to 2 inches apart, the cookies won’t spread much and bake for 12 minutes or until the edges are just beginning to brown. Cool for 5 minutes and then transfer to a wire rack.

I really liked these cookies, they smell so wonderful and of course they go very well with a cup of earl grey tea. I’m thinking of maybe warming the milk in the pan along with the tea leaves for a bit to get more of the earl grey flavor, but am unsure as to how they will affect the leaves (will they rehydrate and become soggy little leaf pieces or will it really boost the tea flavor).  I’m also dying to try this with some other teas, specifically hojicha (a nutty Japanese tea) or Assam or even English Breakfast.

Let me know what your favorite tea is!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

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Happy December! Now that Thanksgiving’s over, we can start getting ready for christmas right? Either way, I can’t think of any better way to kick off this holiday season with these chocolate peppermint cookies.  Chocolate and peppermint go so well together and I feel like they truly represent the cold winter months.  The warmth and richness of the chocolate is balanced by the cool kiss of peppermint.  It kind of reminds me of drinking hot chocolate while walking through the snow.  Also the peppermint comes from candy canes. Because to me candy canes = winter holidays.  I used to love trying to lick the candy cane into a nice sharp point without breaking it.  Wait, I still love doing that, I just can’t stand the sugar for very long and end up tossing the rest of the candy cane. Anyway, I’m getting off track. I’ve been really into baking cookies lately and I think it’s because they seem like the baked treat of choice in the winter. Especially with holiday cookie swaps.  I’ve actually never done a cookie swap before and I don’t think I will be participating in one this year, but I’ve decided that this month, I would try and make as many kinds of cookies as I can.  Because along with being a choco-holic, I am a cookie monster.  I’ll probably be making different varieties of these chocolate peppermint cookies, I was originally going to sandwich the two chocolate cookies with some peppermint frosting or whipped cream and then roll the edges in crushed candy canes, but maybe I’ll save that for another time.

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Instead, let’s get started making these delicious cookies!

Ingredients:

Cookies:
-1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter 
-1/2 tsp vanilla paste
-2 tbsp granulated sugar
-1 egg
-1 cup AP flour
-1 pinch salt
-1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 candy canes
Garnish:
-1/4 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
-2 candy canes
 
Directions:
  1. Beat together the butter and sugar until nice and fluffy.  Add in the vanilla and the egg and beat until incorporated.  Stir in the cocoa powder, salt and flour until just combined.  Crush the candy canes until they’re almost powdery, there should be small shards, but the pieces should be no bigger than a pea.  Sprinkle the candy cane powder into the dough and knead until well incorporated.
  2. Shape the dough into a rectangle and wrap tightly in plastic wrap.  Place in the fridge for 30 minutes or overnight.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Roll out the dough until about 1/8 inch thick and cut into rounds. You can also use fluted cookie cutters or basically any cookie cutter of your choice. I found out that this dough retains it’s shape beautifully when baked.
  5. Place the cookies on the tray about an inch apart, these cookies also don’t spread much, hence why they keep their shape.
  6. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes and cool on the trays.
  7. While the cookies are cooling, crush the remaining 2 candy canes. These can be any size you want. I like to crush them by sealing them in a plastic zip top bag and using a rolling pin to crush them.
  8. Melt the chocolate in the microwave in 15 second bursts until the chocolate is melted. Melting them slowly will temper them, thus allowing the chocolate to set at room temperature.
  9. Spread the melted chocolate over the tops of the cookies and sprinkle with candy cane pieces.  I like to do this over a wire rack fitted inside a rimmed baking sheet for easy clean up.

What’s your favorite holiday cookie? I’d love to swap recipes! :)

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Mini Chocolate Pecan Tarts

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I’m pretty sure I mentioned these mini chocolate pecan tarts before. I actually called them pies, but since I there is no top crust and I used the leftover pate sucrée to make them, I think it’s more accurate to call them tarts.  What is the difference between a pie and a tart anyway?

Well a pie is a sweet or savory dish with a crust and a filling. The crust is usually made with three simple ingredients: flour, fat (lard, butter, shortening), water. Okay and maybe salt. The end result is a crisp flaky crust. The sides of the crust are sloped and the sides are sloped.

Whereas a tart is a sweet or savory dish with a shallow crust and a only a bottom curst.  The crust on a tart is more crumbly, usually made from pastry dough and the sides are not sloped, but fluted.

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Whew we got a little side tracked there, back to these mini pecan tarts.  Since it’s usually just me and Patrick, I thought that it would be too much to make a whole pie or tart unless I’m going to a party.  Thus I decided, why not make mini tarts? Then it occurred to me that I don’t have a pie pan that makes the perfect amount of pie for two nor did I have little tart pans like the ones I drool over in any and all baking stores that I go to. Instead, I thought, well I have a cupcake tin. Why not use that? So I used some leftover pate sucrée to make mini tarts in my cupcake tin.  They came out really nicely and I thought they were adorable.  Maybe its because they were mini? These turned out to be the perfect size for personal tarts, so you have have your own tart as well as share the extras.  For this post, I made the filling chocolate pecan, which as I mentioned earlier, is currently my new favorite pie.  I made this pecan pie using a recipe from Food and Wine and since it was such a big hit at our friendsgiving, I decided to make it my go to pecan pie recipe.  Of course, I shouldn’t make them too often since they probably aren’t as good for my waistline as they are for my tastebuds, but hey, they’re definitely a great indulgent treat.   I took some of these to work and all my co-workers loved them, plus I think it really cuts down on the mess since you don’t have to slice them and worry about the crust crumbling under the knife.  Definitely one of the benefits of these pies is that you can eat one and not feel too guilty.  Additionally, they’re pretty portable. Okay not really, you’ll end up leaving a trail of delicious buttery crumbs, but hey it’s easier to eat a mini tart then a slice of tart. At least that’s what I think. There must be a study somewhere…

Anyway, let’s get started!

 Ingredients:

Pate Sucrée
-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 tbsp plus 2 tsp chilled shortening*
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1/4 teaspoon water
-4 drops vanilla
Filling
-2 eggs
-1/2 cup brown sugar
-1/4 cup light corn syrup
-4 tbsp butter, melted 
-1/4 tsp salt
-1 cup pecans, roasted and chopped plus 12 whole pecan halves
-1 cup chocolate chips 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, butter, shortening, and sugar in medium mixing bowl until the butter and shortening is about the size of small peas. Add yolks, water and vanilla and continue mixing until dough is crumbly. Turn dough out onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide the dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disc*. Wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling.  Beat together the brown sugar, corn syrup, salt and eggs in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a skillet until foamy and golden brown or melt in the microwave for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the sugar mixture and set aside.
  3. Preheat the oven to 350ºF and spreading the pecans in a single layer on a sheet pan, roast for 5 to 10 minutes while the oven is preheating.  Once the pecans are roasted, let them cool before reserving 12 whole pecan halves and roughly chopping the rest.
  4. Roll out one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and cut out dough circles using a cookie cutter slightly larger than the cups in the cupcake tin.  Carefully press the dough into the pan, making sure to keep the edges straight. Use the excess dough to patch and cracks.
  5. Sprinkle a layer of chopped pecans in the bottom of each dough lined cup, sprinkle chocolate chips on top and then some more pecans. The chocolate nut mixture to reach about 2/3 up the cup. Pour the melted butter mixture over the pecans and chocolate until the filling reaches about a half centimeter below the top of the crust. Top with the whole pecan halves and bake for  30 minutes, or until the crust is golden and the filling no longer jiggles.

These were so cute and delicious. I will definitely be making them again. Well considering that I already made these twice now, there is no doubt that I will be making these again.  What I like about the mini tarts is that you can make multiple little pies, so you can have more than one flavor and not feel too much of glutton.  In fact I just made a batch of these mini tarts and made different fillings (apple tart, pear tart, pumpkin pie, chocolate pecan and chocolate cream pie). All in one batch.  You just have to make sure you make the right amount of filling (usually cutting in it half if you want 6 mini pies, or thirds if you want 4 mini pies, etc. etc.)  You might have some leftover filling, but at least you can use them to make mini pies again!

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I hope you like this post, I’ve been kind of obsessed with the mini pies/mini everything (did you see my mini quiches?), my cupcake tin/muffin tin is getting a tough work out.

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Pear Tart

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Thanksgiving is coming up and I’m sure you’re all looking for the perfect dessert recipe.  Growing up in Japan in a 100% Japanese family, we never celebrated Thanksgiving.  Well that totally makes sense right? I mean Thanksgiving is a distinctly unique American holiday where you contemplate about all the things you’re thankful for and you eat a lot. Okay, we really know it’s a lot more than that, but I’m no American History expert and let’s face it, you’re probably here for the food more so than a history lesson.  When I had my first Thanksgiving, I believe I was in either first or second grade.  It was delicious. I remember lots of food and of course pumpkin pie.  My older sister was obsessed with it after that.  She loved pumpkin pie and I guess being a younger sibling who always looked up to her older sibling, I fell in love with pumpkin pie too.  Today, not so much…I’ve found love with pecan pie…wait, sorry, I’m getting way off topic.  This is a post about pear tarts.  Tarts, I find, are very simple and please a lot of people. This pear tart is no different.  In fact, when I brought it to a going away party for a co-worker it was eaten within 20 minutes and my other co-workers were asking for more.  I felt bad only bringing one tart. And this was with 7 people. Okay so I guess 7 is a lot, but the fact that they were asking for more and even hinting that there were pears and baking ingredients as well as a functional oven shows how delicious this tart is.  Trust me, unless they’re complete traditionalist, I don’t think people would mind too terribly if you made a pear tart instead of a pumpkin pie.

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So let’s get baking!

 Ingredients:

Pate Sucrée
-1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
-8 tbsp (1 stick) unsalted butter, well chilled and cut into 1/2 inch pieces
-2 tbsp plus 2 tsp chilled shortening*
-1/4 cup sugar
-2 egg yolks
-1/4 teaspoon water
-4 drops vanilla
Filling
-1/3 cup granulated sugar
-2 tbsp all purpose flour
-1 egg
-1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
-2 Bartlett pears, peeled, cored and quartered lengthwise
-Powdered sugar (garnish)
-Apricot jam
 
* You can replace the shortening for butter, I just find that using a mix of butter and shortening creates a flakier crust. 

Directions:

  1. Combine flour, butter, shortening, and sugar in medium mixing bowl until the butter and shortening is about the size of small peas. Add yolks, water and vanilla and continue mixing until dough is crumbly. Turn dough out onto work surface and gather into ball. Divide the dough into two parts. Flatten each part into a disc*. Wrap tightly in plastic. Freeze 30 minutes or refrigerate overnight.
  2. While the dough chills, make the filling.  Beat together the sugar, flour and eggs in a large bowl.  Melt the butter in a skillet until foamy and golden brown or melt in the microwave for about a minute. Slowly whisk in the melted butter into the sugar mixture** and set aside.
  3. Roll out one disc of dough on a lightly floured surface and transfer the dough into a tart pan.  Carefully press the dough into the pan, removing excess dough. Use the excess dough to patch and cracks. Place the tart pan in the fridge.
  4. Preheat the oven to 350ºF .  Peel and core the pears.  Cut the pears crosswise into thin slices.  Gently open the slices into a fan shape and arrange them in the crust in a flower pattern.  Pour the melted butter mixture over the pears and bake for an hour, or until the crust and filling are brown.
  5. Once the tart is out of the pan, warm some apricot jam and gently brush the top of the tart with it.  Additionally, you can skip the jam and dust the edges with powdered sugar or do both.  Either way these tart is delicious.
  6. Serve at room temperature with freshly whipped cream, ice cream and any other delicious pie toppings.

*I used a 8 inch tart pan with a removable bottom and I found that half the dough is more than enough. If using an 11 inch tart pan, use both discs of dough.  Additionally, you will need to double the filling for a bigger tart pan.  You can use the other disc of dough for other tarts or for mini pecan pies, which I will post soon.

**Slowly adding the hot butter to the room temperature sugar mixture tempers the filling, ensuring that the eggs don’t get scrambled/cooked in the process.

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This tart takes a while, about 2 hours from start to finish, but a majority of it is waiting.  I think it’s definitely worth it. Everyone will love you for it! For friendsgiving, I substituted the pears with some apples.  To be honest, the apple tart was devoured faster than the pumpkin pie that I had also brought, so I think it’s safe to say that it’s a good choice of dessert if pumpkin pie isn’t really your thing.  I really love this pate sucrée crust and have used the leftovers to make mini pecan pies, which were delicious.  I promise promise promise to post a recipe for them soon! Additionally, I think the crust would be beautiful paired with a chocolate cream filling or even a plain custard filling topped with raspberries.  The thing I love is that you don’t have to crimp it to make it beautiful. Straight clean lines are just as appealing!

Until then! Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Baking Projects I’m working on!

Hi Everyone!

I hope you’re having a wonderful November. I apologize for not posting this past week. It’s been pretty busy with my playing around with Dominique Ansel’s recipes,  this book is honestly drool worthy and so so gorgeous. It’s poignant and beautiful. I honestly can’t wait to perfect the cronut and tell you all about it (though I believe it will take a while before that, so please bear with me).

I had friendsgiving last weekend and made three delicious pies: pumpkin, chocolate pecan and an apple tart. Okay so the tart isn’t a pie, but it was still delicious and I think it was one of best looking tarts yet. I’ll definitely post a recipe for it soon!

Thirdly, I went to watch Big Hero Six. If you haven’t watched it, go. It’s adorable. There are tears, laughter, and all the feels.  I honestly think that was one of my favorite disney movies of all time. I actually want to watch it again. Like right now. Unfortunately, since I don’t have the time, I will just have to make do with Baymax cookies. I’m going to perfect them a bit more before I share them with you, but for the first round they came out pretty cute I think.

That’s all!

I promise to post a recipe soon!

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi

Jack-O-Lantern Pastries

Happy Halloween!


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I love Halloween. Probably because it occurs during my birthday month, but also because it’s super festive.  Being a Japanese kid growing up in an international school environment, I will confess that I don’t really understand the true meaning of Halloween. Though I do know that it’s called All Hallow’s Eve and, I like to think of it as like the American equivalent of Obon or Dia de los Muertos. It’s a day to remember the dead although Wikipedia also states that it’s also a day to confront the power of death with humor and ridicule. Okay, Wikipedia has just made me more confused. Let’s just go with a day to celebrate and remember the dead. Though being a child I obviously was more interested in getting dressed up and going trick-or-treating. One of the perks of being an international school student is partaking in lots of different cultural holidays. While Halloween wasn’t a HUGE deal when I was little, I was able to go trick-or-treating thanks to the many expat neighborhoods in Tokyo as well as my friends who lived on the embassy.  Dear American friends, thank you thank you for introducing me to the sugar-y delights of nerds, laffy taffy, sweet tarts and all the other American candies. I also thank my parents for, despite not knowing much about Halloween, allowed me and my sister to enjoy it. We may have been the one house in the neighborhood carving pumpkins, but I’m so glad that despite being Japanese you were patient enough to let us enjoy all these holidays.

Okay, enough wandering down memory lane. I made these super quick and pretty cute Jack-O-lantern pastries. For these I just used a store bought puff pastry and made a quick little pumpkin filling.  Once they were baked, I piped the faces with melted chocolate. I also cut out eyes for in the pastry, but I think I like not cutting out the eyes better. They came out looking a little…um…let’s just say they didn’t look as adorable as this one. So let’s get started!

Ingredients:

-1 sheet frozen ready made puff pastry, I’m using the Trader Joe’s brand.
-1/2 can of puree pumpkin
-1 tsp pumpkin spice
-1 tsp flour
-1 egg
-2 tsp brown sugar

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400ºF, line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Make the filling by mixing the pumpkin and the egg together. Add in the pumpkin spice, brown sugar, and flour and mix until well combined.
  3. Roll out the frozen puff pastry. You still want it to be cold. Don’t worry too much about the cracks in the dough, since they will act as ventilation.
  4. Using a pumpkin cookie cutter, cut out as many shapes as you can. With one sheet, you will make around about 12 pumpkin cut outs, which means you’ll make about six. Of course this depends on the size of your cookie cutter. Once you’ve cut out the shapes, roll together the scraps. If the pastry has become too warm, roll into a ball and pop into the freezer until firm.
  5. Place half the pumpkin shapes on the prepared baking sheet. Spoon a little of the filling on top, about 1 teaspoon or so.  Top with the remaining pumpkin shapes and seal the edges to make sure the filling doesn’t ooze out. If you want, you can brush the tops with some egg wash and sprinkle with some sugar and pumpkin spice.
  6. Bake in the oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the puff pastry is a nice golden brown.
  7. Once the pastries are cool, melt some chocolate and draw on the Jack-o-lantern’s face. You can use a pastry bag, a brush or even a chopstick (that’s what I did).

These are so cute and I think people will love to see them on Halloween :) If you want, you can also probably leave these pumpkins as they are, they look just like pumpkins without the faces and so would probably make excellent fall-themed snacks. Plus they’re pumpkin spice! We all know everyone’s a little addicted to pumpkin spice whether they want to be or not. Screen Shot 2014-12-15 at 11.37.36 PM

Hugs and Puppies!

Mimi

 

Happy (belated) National Chocolate Day!

Okay okay, so National Chocolate Day was yesterday. BUT I think it’s never too late to celebrate!

Here’s a few of my favorite chocolate recipes for you to try :)

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Chocolate Truffles

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Chocolate Cream Pie

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Chocolate Cupcakes

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Five Minute Chocolate Mug Cake

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Chocolate Raspberry Cups

Of course being a chocoholic, I have MANY chocolate recipes that you can check out (though I will probably have to re take many of the photos from my earlier posts…even I cringe looking at them…)

Anyway, I hope you have (had) a wonderful chocolate day! I know I did :)

Hugs and puppies!

Mimi