Dark Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea Cookies


At work this week, I had to fill out an annual review. The seemingly innocuous questionnaire was only a page long, but was filled with loaded questions that would determine my next (or, heaven forbid, lack thereof) salary raise: What were my accomplishments for the year? How did I demonstrate my contribution to the company's values? What were my strengths?

Now, if you know me in real life, I'm sure you'll agree with this statement: I'm a completely deprecating person. Talking about myself and/or my achievements is something that is completely unnatural to me, for better or for worse. I always feel slightly fraudulent and embarrassed on the rare occasion that I'm talking myself up. That is, my face gets hot, and I can actually feel the blush creeping onto my face as I apologetically share news of my accomplishments.

I'm especially bad about it in the context of this blog. Last week, I attended a networking event where I met several local bloggers in the area. During the event, I listened to other attendees pitch their blogs and excitedly tell me what their personal brand was about; finally, they would pause and ask me what I blogged about. "Oh, nothing too important," I would say, shrugging my blog off and deflecting the conversation back to the blogger's work. At most, I would volunteer the phrase "I'm a food blogger who focuses on desserts and baking", before steering the conversation away from my own blog by asking the blogger a question about themselves or their blog.


As I watched other bloggers confidently introduce themselves to the PR companies and local restaurant owners at the event, I was suddenly reminded of my friend Nathan in England (or, this dapper chap with the beautiful skin). During my last night in London, Nathan cooked a wonderfully delicious dinner: gooey, cheesy baked pasta with vegetables, accompanied by a from-scratch fruit galette with a buckwheat tart that has far surpassed anything I've ever made. As we complimented his cooking, Nathan consistently waved us off. He scoffed that the pasta bake was such an easy recipe that anybody could do it, and he made apologies for mistakes in the fruit tart that nobody even noticed.

At the time, I had almost snapped at him, "Stop being so damn modest! This is one of the best meals I've had in ages, and just accept the credit you deserve." It baffled me that he just couldn't accept something as minor as complimenting his cooking. What was the big deal? Was he trying to be noble? Because he was just being ridiculous!  And so that was when it occurred to me — right then, standing alone by myself in the middle of a crowded room, awkwardly sipping my wine — I was guilty of the same damn thing on a much larger scale.

At the end of the day, I know that I'm doing myself a big disservice by trying to remain anonymous and blend in with the crowd. Although I often pass this blog off as something fun and easy I do in my spare time, the fact of the matter is, I work really damn hard on it and should accept some recognition. Modesty is a virtue, yes, but so is the strength to go after what you deserve.


So with that, this cookie recipe is dedicated to my friend Nathan and, well... me. The cookies are your regular, buttery, dark chocolate chip cookies but with a twist — the butter has been infused with Earl Grey tea, one of the world's most comforting flavors to me (also, on a side note, Earl Grey is one of the most stereotypically British flavors too, so consider that an homage to your mother-country, N). These cookies are our reminder that it's okay to be good at things, and it's okay to admit that we are. Because apparently we need a little more help than most people.

See? There I go again, being self-deprecating. Oh well. Baby steps.

UPDATE (3/16/2014): A lot of you guys have reported that this recipe produces a dry batter that results in a crumbly cookie. I've revised the recipe and added an additional egg, which I think will help combat the dry batter. I've also changed the way you infuse the butter with the tea, to make sure you get the right amount of butter in the recipe.  


Some baker's notes:
  • Plan ahead for this one! Several steps are time intensive. The first step requires you to create brown butter, and then allow the tea leaves to steep and infuse the butter for 30 to 45 minutes. The longer you steep the butter, the stronger your Earl Grey flavor will be. I recommend a minimum of at least 30 minutes. For tea lovers? Go the full hour. 

  • Additionally, the dough requires refrigeration overnight. In fact, the longer you refrigerate the cookies, the better they will be since the dough has time to soak in and absorb all the flavors.

  • The secret to a good cookie texture is a good creaming process — don't skimp! When I say cream the butter and sugar on medium-high speed for 10 minutes, I mean 10 minutes. No, really.

  • So there's a weird step in this recipe — that is, once the dough has come together, I ask you to cover the dough in plastic cling wrap, roll it into a log, and then chill it overnight. Don't ignore this step. The dough turns hard when it's chilled, making it super difficult to portion it out into cookies. This log method makes it a lot easier for you — similar to frozen cookie dough, you can just cut it into 1-inch rounds and then bake accordingly. 

  • Feeling creative? You can sub out the Earl Grey tea with any black tea of your preference. If you go this route, let me know what combinations you tried in the comments section!


Dark Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea Cookies

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Ingredients

Special Equipment:

For the Dark Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea Cookies:
(makes about thirteen 3-inch cookies)
  • 3/4 cup (12 tablespoons or 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, divided into 1/2 cup and 1/4 cup portions, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup Earl Grey tea leaves
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 10 ounces (1 package) dark chocolate (or, semi-sweet) chunks

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Recipe


For the Dark Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea Cookies:
  1. In a large saucepan, brown 1/2 cup unsalted butter by melting over medium-low heat. Once the butter is fully melted, increase the heat to medium and stir occasionally, cooking the butter until it turns golden brown and develops a nutty aroma. Once the butter has browned, remove from heat and immediately whisk in 1/2 cup Earl Grey tea leaves and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. Make sure that the leaves don't float to the top of the butter; whisk hard enough so that the leaves get soaked and incorporated into the butter. Set aside to rest for 30 - 45 minutes. 

  2. Once the tea has infused the butter, place your fine-mesh sieve over the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer. Strain the tea and butter mixture into the bowl, using a large wooden spoon or a rubber spatula to press down on the leaves. You want to squeeze out as much butter as possible, so don't be afraid to use force! Melt the remaining 1/4 cup of unsalted butter and add to the butter you've squeezed from the tea.

  3. Once you've squeezed out all the butter you can, add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 1/2 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar. Using the paddle attachment, beat on med-high speed for 10 minutes until well combined and the mixture has turned light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before turning on the mixer to its lowest speed and adding 2 eggs, only adding the next egg until the first one is fully incorporated. Continue mixing until just combined.

  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 3/4 teaspoon baking soda, 2/4 teaspoon baking powder, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Turn the mixer to its lowest speed and add the flour mixture, beating until just combined. Add 10 ounces chocolate chunks and beat until just combined. At this point, the mixture has come together to form a cookie dough.

  5. Halve the cookie dough and shape each portion into a log about 2 inches in diameter. It doesn't have to be a perfect log at this point, don't worry! Cover each log well in plastic wrap. Once both logs are covered in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 15 minutes to firm up the dough. 

  6. Once the dough is a little firmer than it was, take out the logs and use the palm of your hands to roll them against a hard surface to create perfect logs. Once you're satisfied with the shape of your logs, put them back in the refrigerator and chill for at least 10 - 12 hours, preferably overnight.

  7. Once the cookie dough is sufficiently chilled, preheat the oven to 375 (F) and prepare a baking pan by lining it with parchment paper or a Silpat mat.

  8. Remove the cookie dough logs from the refrigerator, unwrapping and discarding the plastic wrap. Cut into 1-inch thick rounds, and space each round at least 4 inches apart from each other. Gently press each cookie round with the back of your hand and bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the edges have set. The centers will look undercooked, but the cookies will firm up as they cool. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for about 8 to 10 minutes, before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
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24 comments

  1. I clicked on this post in my blog feed because hello, those cookies look and sound delicious! As I read along, your message really resonated with me. I happen to be torturing myself today, feeling weird about charging a friend of mine for some photo work I did for her. You are right, I take pride in all I do and work damn hard at it as well! I shouldn't feel guilty about being recognized, appreciated, and in my case today, compensated for it. Love your blog by the way, I'm from sea level but now live in CO and I suck at adjusting for altitude! Thank You.
    Over The Apple Tree

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  2. This looks amazing! I'll be trying this recipe soon. I love your photographs! They have such a homey and rustic feel to them. Are you still using the 50mm 1.8 lens? Do you think you can also post a picture of your food photography set up? I think it will be really interesting to see the "behind the scenes" of this blog!

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    Replies
    1. Hi there,

      Thanks for the kind words! Yep, I'm still using the 50 mm f/1.8 lens, but these days, I also alternate with a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens. I'd love to do a post on my food photography setup, but truthfully, I think you guys would be surprised to see how, uh, B-movie my production actually is. I rely a lot on very simple equipment like white or black foam boards that I got from the dollar store, and often do most of my aerial shots standing on a $10 chair from Ikea. True story. If you follow me on Instagram (@michellelo2009), I sometimes do a behind-the-scenes shot of my photography setup.

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    2. I will definitely check out your Instagram! And I love how good photography can be done with simple equipment. I sometimes use stacks of books as a tripod!

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  3. beautiful photos!!! they look delish.

    p.s it was great meeting you last week!

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  4. Next blogger event, I'll just walk around with you and gush to people about how your blog is my fav ;)

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  5. The cookies look delish! I'm sure all the steps are worth such great results.

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  6. Great cookies and you sound pretty great, too. Stand up and take it, girl! I say enjoy it while you can, cause you never know when it will stop! Lean in! You have a lot to offer-like these sumptuous cookies and fantastic photos.And the writing is good, too!

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  7. 2 of my favorite things - earl grey and chocolate chip cookies... can't wait to try it!

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  8. Omg PERFECT! I just tried to make plum tea-infused muffins last night by steeping the leaves in milk and then straining them out...but the resulting milk was nasty. Should probably start with tea that I think tastes good next time. Next time, I will try infusing butter with a tastier tea! Thanks for the tips. Also, I'm going to make a request that you absolutely don't have to fulfill, but the next time you make cookies, could you show the difference between what creaming the butter for 10 minutes vs. like, 1 minute does for the end result?

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  9. Why does it matter if the butter is room temperature if I'm just going to melt it? ;)

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    Replies
    1. Eh, truthfully, it doesn't have to be at room temperature because you're right — the recipe calls for you to melt it, anyway. Almost all the recipes I write call for butter at room temperature, so it was out of habit that I wrote it when listing ingredients. Consider it a best practice more than anything else. :-p

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  10. Just found your blog (looking for dutch baby recipes). Love it! As a small-time blogger with a teensy following, I say enjoy the kudos coming your way regarding your blog. Blogging, whether for pleasure or otherwise, is hard work- enjoy the recognition!

    And thanks for this recipe... two of my most favorite things in one cookie? Yes please!

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  11. Thanks for this recipe! One question: my batch's dough came out extremely dry. Do you think maybe I didn't squish enough butter out of the tea leaves? How could I have made the dough less dry? Otherwise, the cookies tasted JUST like earl grey, which was such a treat!

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    Replies
    1. It is most likely that you didn't squeeze enough butter from the tea leaves :-( To prevent this from happening in the future, I recommend putting away 4 tablespoons of butter from the original recipe quantity (which is 1 1/2 sticks). Follow the recipe instructions and melt 1 stick, combine and infuse it with the tea leaves, and strain it, but then melt the other 4 tablespoons separately and add it to the strained butter. Hopefully that will ensure you have the right quantity butter that you need for a tender dough.

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    2. Also, curious about this — did the cookies taste good anyway, despite the dry dough?

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    3. Thanks for this recipe! I just tried this recipe out :) It tastes delicious! My dough also turned out dry but I added an egg white and it fixed it ! I was also wondering how to prevent the cookie from turning hard after it cooled down?

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  12. Do you know if the dough is freezeable? I'm doing a cookie holiday party and want to try to start cooking in advance and freeze the dough.... Then just bake a day or two before. Thanks!

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    Replies
    1. Hm... not sure. I've never done it before — I know you can refrigerate the dough overnight, so I don't see why freezing would be a problem?

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  13. One worthwhile task carried to a successful conclusion is worth half-a-hundred half-finished tasks.

    very pleased to find this site.I wanted to thank you for this great read!!

    web hosting pakistan

    ReplyDelete
  14. I visited on this publish in my weblog nourish because hello, those biscuits look and audio delicious! As I study along, your concept really resonated with me. I are actually torturing myself these days, sensation strange about asking for a buddy for some picture perform I did for her.
    cookings

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  15. Hello! I stumbled across your blog while looking for recipes for tea-infused baked goods :) I just tried your recipe, but my dough was quite dry at the end (despite pressing out the butter from the leaves until my thumbs got sore!). I went ahead and fridged the dough anyway, but when I took it out the next day to slice, it was pretty hard and also crumbled into pieces that wouldn't come together again. I'm assuming this isn't normal...what was the consistency of your dough pre-fridge and post-fridge?

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    Replies
    1. Hm, that isn't normal. Mine had the texture of regular cookie dough? I would try adding an egg white to make the batter smoother, or just infusing 1 stick of butter and reserving the other half to add later to ensure you get the right amount of butter.

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  16. I came here looking for a cookie recipe, but I've found so much more! As a fellow blogger, I too am flippant about the work that I do. I think it's hard to feel accomplished in a creative capacity - because it's hard to measure! Thank you for being so frank!

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