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Earl-Grey Infused Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies

I know. The name's a mouthful. A yummy mouthful.
Sorry the pictures are a bit awful. I swear the cookies aren't.
My baking girl in cahoots, Nina, helped me make these cookies for the Food Blogger Great Cookie Swap 2012.
Let me start at the beginning. The cookie swap is this genius idea hosted by Love & Olive Oil and Little Kitchen that goes like this: there are a ton of people who love to bake and who do it pretty well. These people love to eat and they love to feed others. How about we start a swap where once a year we connect these people and they can send each other cookies? In boxes? Using the postal service! (Well, at least that's how I imagine the idea came about. I dunno.) It makes a lot of sense, and even more once you start receiving cookies from across the country and they are so. Good. Because we bloggers want to impress each other so we go all out. Everyone sends one dozen cookies each to three people, and in return receives a dozen each from three different people. I got pumpkin-filled gingersnaps, double chocolate cherry, and chai-spiced gingerbread men. So. Happy.
I've been looking forward to doing this swap since last year, when I found out about it after the recipes from the 2011 swap were posted and I wished I had known about it a month before so I could participate. When I was finally sent my matches this year, I began to think: what cookie could I really knock 'em out with? Then I began to think about Rubyzaar. In New York City, we love a good flea market. Even more than a flea market, we love us a bazaar. Sounds like some exotic, very limited-edition, one-of-a-kind, locally sourced goodness. Where am I going here? The Union Square Holiday Market.
Once a year, UrbanSpace sets up red and white tents all over the until-recently-occupied-by-Occupiers space we all go to on Friday night. By we, I mean every nyc-public-high-schooler, and then some. I often take out-of-towners my age here, because it has so many amusements and it is so nearby many other cool neighborhoods: St. Mark's Place and the Lower East Side, Soho, Bryant Park (ice-skating in the winter!). Acually, Bryant park isn't so nearby. But it isn't too far away either. Nor is Chinatown, or the Theater and Fashion Districts. Each neighborhood leads to the next, and if you're with me, then you end up walking a lot before you know it, because there's this little place that sells only pudding ten blocks over, and just a couple blocks more, and we can go to this tiny spot that sells only belgian fries and, like, 50 dipping sauces! Oh, and there's that awesome dumpling place a couple avenues up! I like to think that all that walking burns off the food, but we all know it's a lie. 
But I digress. So, for about a month in early winter, the Holiday Market sets up in union square and is filled with people selling scarves, puppets, hot chocolate, and these weird hand warmer pads that turn soft and warm from this electromagnetic shock thing. Actually pretty cool. And among the vendors are tucked many food places, the ins and outs of which I know quite intimately at this point. Every year, I wait for Rubyzaar. Rubyzaar is a clothing store actually, but once a year for the holiday market, they rent a big kitchen space and become Rubyzaar baked, and make really, really amazing cookies. Not only are they great and exotic (they reflect the different places Rubyzaar designers have been for their clothes) but they are rendered extra-special because they are only available once a year. But here's my sneaky bit: I found their menu online. And from those delicious descriptions, I figured I could make the cookies myself. So for the Cookie Swap, that's where I turned.

See in the middle, the ones called Kashmir? Like the Led Zep song? My favorite. Rubyzaar describes them as "smoked almonds, earl grey, + dark chocolate". I decided these would be The Chosen Ones. So how to get the earl grey flavor in? I've done some experimenting before (chai flavor abounds on this blog) but never gotten truly satisfactory results. Then I remembered a very intriguing post on the Cupcake Project about using butter to infuse tea flavor into baked goods. Bingo.
The rest was simple. Using a chocolate chip cookie recipe that called for melted butter, to a floury bowl poured some incredibly fragrant earl-grey golden liquid, some chopped almonds, and some dark chocolate, mixed, and baked. They were very, very good. We made them in Nina's house, and her parents were nearly dying because they couldn't eat the cookies. Luckily, we made enough that once we packaged and sent off three dozen, there was still a dozen and a half for my family and the same amount for her. My father was not as much a fan. "They're a little... weird," he said, "like really nice scented soap." Whatever. If you don't like bergamot, they're not for you. I ate a lot of them.
Lastly, we put a bit of New York touch into the packaging that I'm proud of. We went down the street, stopped into the nearest Chinese takeout place, and acquired three takeout boxes. We stuffed the cookies into these and then cushioned the boxes with crumpled New York Times business section. I hope my bloggers in Texas and Kansas appreciated that bit!
Oh, and a last note? You have a lot of leftover butter soaked tea leaves when you finish this recipe. Let them dry overnight, then crumble them with granulated sugar and you have earl-grey sugar. I'm not too sure what to do with it, but it sure looks fancy! Probably a good thing to put in a jar, tie with a bow, and give as a holiday gift.

Earl-Grey Infused Chocolate Chip Almond Cookies
inspired by Rubyzaar Kashmir Cookies. recipe adapted from AllRecipes and The Cupcake Project.
makes 2 dozen medium sized cookies.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter
10 earl grey tea teabags, or 10 tsps loose tea
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup turbinado or white sugar
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 egg
1 egg yolk
2 cups dark chocolate chips
3/4 cup roughly chopped unsalted almonds (smoked would be awesome!)

Preheat the oven to 325 ºF (165 ºC). Grease cookie sheets or line with parchment paper.
Mix together flour, baking soda and salt and set aside.
If tea is in teabags, remove it so that it is loose. In a small saucepan, melt the butter until just liquid, then add the tea leaves. Heat on low for about 5 minutes, or until butter darkens and there is a buttery tea smell pervading the kitchen. Remove from heat and let sit for at least 5 minutes, then strain through fine mesh. Don't worry if a couple tea pieces slip through. You will now have less butter than what you started with. Depending on how much less, you may want to add some milk to the dough later.
In a medium bowl, stir the melted butter, brown sugar and white sugar until all is liquid. Beat in the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk until mixture lightens. Mix in the dry ingredients until just blended. At this point, of the dough is too dry and won't come together, add a couple tablespoons of milk. Stir in the chocolate chips and almonds. 
Drop cookie dough onto the prepared cookie sheets. They don't spread much so if you'd like them flatter rather than mounded, press each cookie gently down. 
Bake for 15 to 17 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm but not brittle. Can be stored in an airtight container for up to one week.

 Bonus picture! Here's a bad one of me, packing everything up with my signature silver duct tape. Because I know you're curious :)


Vegetable Jap Chae

Whoever doesn't know about this dish is a poor fellow indeed. Jap Chae is what you order at a Korean place if you can't stand chili oil or don't eat meat. It full of veggies, its slithery and crunchy and multiflavored.

 In my house, we eat a whole lot of pasta. Sometimes its nice to switch things up. And you know what's fun? Glass noodles. They're most often made from sweet potato starch, and can be purchased at any asian market. When you cook them, they turn translucent and slippery. Perfect for chasing after with your chopsticks.

Vegetable Jap Chae
adapted from nytimes-The Temporary Vegetarian
serves 4-6. time about 1 hour

note: this can easily be increased or reduced. Just follow a rough proportionality of ingredients. Similarly, you can add or substitute whatever vegetables you like. Wanna add those odd baby corn things? Go ahead. Onions? Sure. Snow peas? Yum.

8 oz Korean dried sweet potato noodles
2 tbps sesame oil
4 tbsps soy sauce
1 tbsp sugar
4 tbsps peanut oil
4 Napa or other cabbage leaves, thinly sliced
1 large carrot, julienned
1 clove garlic, minced
6 scallions, white and light green parts only, trimmed and cut into 2-inch coins
8 fresh shiitake (or dried shiitake mushrooms that have been soaked 1-2 hours), stemmed and thinly sliced
1/2 cup spinach leaves and stems, washed well, drained, and squeezed dry
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tsp toasted sesame seeds

Bring a pot of water to a boil. Break noodles in half if you can, add, and cook until chewy, about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Transfer to a bowl, add 1 tablespoon sesame oil, mix well, and set aside.
In a small bowl, combine soy sauce and sugar. Mix well, and set aside.
Place a wok or large sauté pan over high heat, add peanut oil, and swirl to coat the entire wok or pan. When the oil is shimmering, add the cabbage and carrot and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, 1 to 3 minutes. Add garlic, scallions, and mushrooms. Fry until scallions begin to soften, about 1 minute. Add spinach, soy sauce-sugar mixture, noodles, and black pepper.
Cook until noodles are heated through, stirring vigorously, about 3 minutes. Turn off heat, and add sesame seeds and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons of sesame oil. Mix well.


Super Cookie Dough Cupcakes

What makes them so super, you will surely ask? Well. You have a dozen brown butter cupcakes, see? Like pumped up vanilla cupcakes: nuttier, buttery, comforting. Then, you cut a hole in the top of each one.
 Put a dollop of cookie dough on top (egg-free!).
 And then slather some cookie dough frosting all over that thang.
Don't forget the chocolate chip on top. I'd take that over a maraschino cherry any day.

Super Cookie Dough Cupcakes
1 dozen
adapted from the cupcake project

Brown Butter Cupcakes

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsps baking powder
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 tbsps milk

Preheat oven to 400 F.
First, make the browned butter. Place butter in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly until it turns a dark golden color, 3-5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and strain into a bowl (to separate from the burned bits).
Let the butter sit until it solidifies, but is still a little soft. (This can take 30 mins room temp; if in a hurry, put it in the fridge for 10 mins).
When ready, beat with sugar. In a separate bowl (I do this directly in the measuring cup), mix flour and baking powder. Add eggs and vanilla extract to the butter-sugar mixture, then mix in the flour. Finally, add milk. If too dry, add a tablespoon or so more of milk.
Fill twelve cupcake liners and bake for 15-20 minutes, until a knife or toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Cookie Dough (for frosting and filling)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) butter, melted (or substitute canola oil for part or all)
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 tbsps milk

Mix everything together.

To Assemble:
Cut a small cone out of the top of each cupcake, but inserting a knife and carving a circle out without moving the tip. These little pieces I suggest you eat to keep up your stamina in the coming back-breaking task (not!).

In each cavity, put a small ball of cookie dough, so that 1/4 of the dome rises above the surface of the cupcake.

For the frosting, thin one cup of the remaining cookie dough with 1/2 cup of cream (milk will do as well). Spread around cupcakes, leaving cookie ball uncovered in the middle.

Top with a chocolate chip and serve.


Walnut-Miso Green Beans

 These are so, so addicting. And vegan! They have the perfect umami flavor, and could be compared to a somewhat parmesan cheese taste.
 They're very simple. Just blanch until the green beans turn a bright green and are still crunchy, make the sauce in a food processor, and douse.
I can eat a pound of green beans like this. They're good warm or chilled. I like to make a lot of sauce so that there are chunks hanging off the beans. If you want it smoother, process more. Ya know.

Walnut-Miso Green Beans
serves 4. under 20 mins
adapted from my idol Mark Bittman 

note: I have a confession. It's easier and faster to microwave-steam these beans. I have been brought up being taught that microwaves are scary and one should never put plastic in it and that it is solely for reheating. But this takes all of two minutes, which is such a plus that I often ignore my upbringing and push the start button. So you can blanch (quite easily), or you can put these in a microwave-safe bowl, cover with plastic wrap, add a sprinkling of water, and microwave for 1-3 minutes, until bright green. Let sit covered for a couple more minutes after removing from the microwave.

note note: the quantities can quite easily be tinkered with. If you have more or less green beans, just add or subtract a couple tablespoons of each ingredient, and/or add only as much as you need to the beans.

10 ounces (1.5-2 cups) green beans, ends snipped
2 tsps fresh grated ginger
2 tbsps light (yellow/white) miso
1/2 cup shelled walnuts
1/2 tsp soy sauce

Bring pot of water to a boil and blanch beans until they are bright green and just tender, about 5 minutes, or use microwave method (elaborated above). Drain and rinse with cold water. Place in a serving bowl.

In a food processor, combine ginger, miso, and soy sauce and pulse for less than 10 seconds. At this point, add some water, starting with 1-2 tbsps, until you reach your desired thickness. Pulse more if you want it smoother.
Toss beans in sauce, and serve.


Chocolate Marzipan Cake

I intended this cake to be a seduction cake. There might have been a boy and it might have been his birthday and I might have tried to woo him with dark chocolate and almond paste.
Unfortunately, the day I brought him the cake, he was home sick. The next day, I fell sick. By wednesday, the cake was a little stale and I couldn't find him anywhere. My friends and I ate the seduction cake without him.
And, actually, now, he's got a girlfriend, who comically coincidentally has the feminized version of his name. We can forget them. They don't matter, in the grand scheme of things.
What matters is this cake. Two layers of dark chocolate, with thin sheets of marzipan sandwiched between them and ganache layered on top.
Yeah. So good.
And I was a genius (if I do say so myself)! When I cut the cake to pack it into my rectangular tupperware (no longer--I have since bought a round cake container) I deftly left behind a sliver from the middle, so that my family could share in the deliciousness and no one would notice. I'm proud. Of my cunning. With the cutting.
 Chocolate Marzipan Cake
makes 2 medium rounds
cake recipe adapted from Mad Hungry (it's vegan!)

2 chocolate cakes
2 marzipan rounds
chocolate ganache

for cake
3 cups flour
2 cups sugar
6 tbsps cocoa powder
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
3/4 cup canola oil
1 tsp vanilla
2 tbsps white vinegar
2 cups cold water

Heat oven to 350 F and grease two round medium cake pans (between 9-12" will get you various thicknesses). 
In a large bowl, add the first five ingredients (dry) and whisk together.
Create a well, and add the remaining four ingredients and mix until batter is smooth.
Fill pans and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until a knife inserted comes out clean.

for marzipan rounds
18 oz/500 g marzipan (about two foil-wrapped sausagey containers from the store)

Take half the marzipan and roll it out as circularly as you can manage and about an 1/8 of an inch thick. Place the cake pan onto the rolled out marzipan and cut a circle around it.

for ganache
2/3 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
3 tbsps butter
1 cup heavy cream

Whip the cream until it forms soft peaks.
Melt the butter and chocolate in a double boiler or microwave.
Add to whipped cream and mix thoroughly.

Cover the first cake layer with the first marzipan layer and trim the edges so it fits on top. Spread a layer of ganache over that. then stack the next cake. Repeat with the marzipan and ganache. Sprinkle with a little cocoa powder that's been mixed with powdered sugar to look artsy (but not pucker your mouth). Ganache will firm up in the fridge. Keeps for about 3 days.

Note: if (and you will) you have extra ganache, you can make truffles. Follow directions, though the end result will be lighter because you whipped the cream here. And with the extra marzipan? Eat it.


Beet Greens Tart

I really love tarts. I even more love galettes, Tart's rustic cousin (why haven't I posted a galette yet? This must be remedied). Another thing I love? Using up ingredients in the fridge. That's where the beet greens come in.
 Yes, you make some beets, maybe a risotto, maybe a slaw, I dunno. Then those greens sit there in the vegetable bin, limply whispering, make us. Please, don't let us wilt here. And you (me) think, Oh yes, I really do want to make you! But steaming them, or stir-frying them, is quite lovely with a bit of garlic and olive oil, but it gets old fast, huh? Especially when this is the routine most of the time, for chard greens, or kale, or collards, or, spinach, or turnip greens.
 Maybe it's just me. Maybe I eat a freakish amount of dark leafy greens (I do. Iron!). But anyhow, this recipe is perfect for doing something new, something delicious, something not just side-dish with your greens, limply whispering or otherwise.
You blend the greens into a lovely froth with some eggs, and milk, and broth, to make a custard type filling. Then all you have to do is pour it into the cornmeal crust, and pop in the oven. Makes for a mighty happy meal. Experiment with any greens you see fit to unearth from your vegetable drawer.

Beet Greens Tart
makes 1 medium tart
adapted from 101 Cookbooks

for Cornmeal Tart Shell
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup medium coarse corn meal
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick (8 tbsp) chilled unsalted butter, cut in cubes
1 large egg yolk
1/4 cup cold water

for Turnip Green Filling
1/4 lb. beet greens, or or any other green you want
2 cloves garlic
2 large eggs + 1 yolk
3/4 cup veg. broth
1/4 cup milk
scant 1/4 tsp salt
2 tsps Dijon mustard
1 1/2 tsps herbs de Provence (mix of dried thyme, basil, rosemary, sage, fennel)
hard cheese (like gruyere) and crushed red pepper flakes, for topping (opt.)

Make tart dough. Combine flour, cornmeal, and salt in food processor. Pulse in butter, 20+ pulses, or until the mixture is pebbly. Add the egg yolk and water. Pulse, trickle in more water if needed, just until dough comes together. Turn out onto a piece of plastic wrap and gather into a ball. Press into a disk and chill n the fridge for at least an hour.

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Place a rack in the middle of the oven. Tart pan can be between 9x9 or 8x11, or 9 inch round.

When you're ready to line the tart pans with dough, open the plastic wrap and roll out until the dough is large enough to line your tart pan, around 1/6-1/8 inch thick. Transfer the dough to the greased pan. Don't worry too much if you get a tear or hole, you can patch those up later with scraps. Work quickly to ease the dough into place, taking care not to stretch the dough. Press it along the bottom of the pan, out to the walls, and against the sides. Trim any excess dough.

Partially bake the tart shell before filling it: dock it with a fork, making small holes along the bottom of the shell. Bake for 25 minutes. You can fill it with pie weights to prevent bubbles, or just keep an eye on it and press any out if they come up. Remove from oven and let cool completely.

To make the filling: Chop the greens and garlic in a food processor. Add the eggs and yolk, pulse. Then the broth and milk. Lastly, incorporate the salt, mustard, and herbs. Fill the tart shell and sprinkle with a little cheese and a sprinkling of red pepper flakes for some zing. Bake for 30 minutes or so, or until the center is set, and has firmed up to the touch.