For tea lovers who also have a passion for chocolate, these cookies will be heaven-sent. Rounds of chocolate sugar cookies are joined with Earl Grey tea ganache, which adds the citrus-like taste and perfume of bergamot orange to the filling. Milk chocolate is used in the ganache, as bittersweet could overpower the tea. Rather than roll and cut out the cookies, the dough here is formed into a log, refrigerated, and sliced into rounds, so allow time for the dough to chill.
Makes 2 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies
Chocolate Sugar Cookies
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup natural or Dutch-process cocoa power
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
Earl Grey Ganache
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon Earl Grey tea leaves
4 ounces milk chocolate, finely chopped
1. To make the cookies, sift the flour, cocoa, baking powder, and salt together. Cream the butter and sugars together in a medium bowl with an electric mixer on high speed until the mixture is very light in color and texture, about 3 minutes. Gradually stir in the flour mixture to make a soft dough.
2. Divide the dough into thirds. Wrap each portion of dough in waxed paper to make a log about 5 1/2 inches long and 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Twist the ends closed. Refrigerate until the dough is chilled and firm enough to cut and hold its shape, at least 2 hours and up to 2 days. (If the dough is chilled until it is very hard, let it stand to soften slightly for about 10 minutes before slicing, or the cookie slices could crack.)
3. Position a rack in the top third and center of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Using a sharp, thin-bladed knife, cut the dough rolls into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Place about 1 inch apart on the baking sheets. Bake, switching the position of the baking sheets from top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking, until the edges of the cookies feel firm when lightly pressed, about 12 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets. Transfer to wire cake racks and let cool completely.
5. To make the ganache, bring the heavy cream to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Remove from the heat and stir in the tea. Let stand for 5 minutes.
Strain the cream mixture through a wire sieve into a bowl, pressing hard on the tea.
6. Return the strained cream mixture to the saucepan and reheat to a simmer. Put the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl. Add the hot cream mixture and let stand until the chocolate softens, about 3 minutes. Stir with a rubber or silicone spatula until the chocolate melts. Place the bowl in a larger bowl of iced water and let stand, stirring and scraping the sides of the bowl often with the spatula, until cooled and thickened to a spreadable consistency.
7. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch fluted tip, such as Ateco #825. Pipe a rosette of ganache on the flat side of one cookie, and sandwich it with a second cookie, flat sides facing each other. (If you wish, omit the pastry bag and tip, and simply spread the cookie with about 2 teaspoons of the ganache.) Repeat with the remaining cookies. Let stand until the ganache sets, about 1 hour. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.)
Cocoa powder is naturally acidic, which dictates the kind of leavening used in the recipe. Natural cocoa powder (such as the familiar Hershey’s in the brown box) is often matched with alkali baking soda. When the two are combined in a recipe and moistened, a chemical reaction creates carbon dioxide, and that makes the baked goods rise. Dutch-processed cocoa (so named because the process was invented in the Netherlands) is treated with an alkali substance at the factory to reduce its acidity. Recipes that use it can use baking powder, which doesn’t rely on a recipe's combination of acidic and alkaline ingredients to create its leavening power. For these cookies, you can use either cocoa. Some people like Dutch-processed cocoa because it gives the baked goods a darker color; others prefer natural cocoa for its unsullied flavor.
Photo by Ben Fink