Saturday, August 26, 2006

Some Experiments DO Work!

My mind is a giant repository for completely useless knowledge. For example, I have never heard Shooter Jennings’ music, yet I know who he is dating (Drea de Matteo – sort of my hero). I also know that Ms. de Matteo has a vintage clothing boutique in NY. Why oh why can’t my head be filled with oh, I don’t know, information that I can actually use?! Every once in a while my embattled brain gets its revenge in my sleep. As in, it won’t let me have any.

A month ago, and I am not kidding about this, I woke up in the middle of the night to write down a recipe idea that I had been dreaming about. I have many, many issues. Somehow, at around 3AM, my mind translated an Earl Grey flavored chocolate I had the day before into a cheesecake with vanilla and Earl Grey tea layers. Oh and in my dream, I also made a big bow out of cheesecake (somehow) to top the cake with. I don’t even know what to say about that. At least it wasn’t pink.

Oddly enough, conscious me doesn’t like cheesecake nearly as much as unconscious me does. Cookies came to mind as a suitable substitute for the tea-flavored, bow-topped cheesecake of my dreams. Specifically, Clotilde’s Langues de Chat (cat’s tongue) dry petits fours or tea biscuits flavored with Earl Grey tea.

This recipe was a bit of a challenge as I did not have Earl Grey tea powder. I buzzed Earl Grey tea in a food processor and passed it through a sieve in an attempt to generate something resembling a powder. It worked well enough. I also got to use a pastry bag for the first time. Since I don’t actually own a pastry bag, I went the ziplock bag route, cutting off one corner of the bag to extrude the cookies onto the baking sheet (cutting a hole far too large the first time, of course). Since these cookies had a purpose (they were flying to Texas with me the next day) I wanted to ensure that I made something edible should my Earl Grey experiment go down in a ball of flames (as my experiments frequently do... in lab), so I made a second batch of biscuits flavored with vanilla.

Luckily, both the experimental and traditional Langues de Chat came out well. The tea flavor of the experimental batch was subtle yet present. I guess my tea powdering approach was successful because I didn’t feel as though I was chewing tea leaves, although the cookies were peppered with little bits of tea. The edges of the cookies were brown and crisp while the center was slightly chewy. The egg whites gave the cookies their camera-friendly gloss. They were very fn to photograph, as evidenced by the zillion pictures that I took of them. The coarse salt I used made for occasional bites of saltiness with combined with the sweet, which I love [I sometimes butter a pan for brownies with salted butter, making a wonderful salty chocolate edges on the brownies.]

Clotilde’s Langues de Chat with (or without) Earl Grey tea

[I tweaked Clotilde’s recipe, but only a little. She used fleur de sel in her cookies which is, I think, less salty than conventional salt so I cut down on the amount I added to the cookies. I adjusted the oven temperature because the cookies weren’t baking to my liking. This may only a factor of my city apartment oven, however.]

¼ c plus 1 tsp unsalted butter, softened
¼ c plus 1 tbsp sugar
2 egg whites
½ c flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp powdered Earl Grey tea or ½ tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 425F.
2. Beat butter and sugar with an electric mixer until fluffy.
3. Add egg whites and beat until combined. Add flour, salt, tea powder and process until smooth.
4. Cover and chill for 1 hour.
5. Cut off a corner of a 1qt ziplock bag to make a 5 mm opening or use an actual, grown up-like pastry bag. Squeeze the batter onto parchment paper-lined baking sheet in 2.5 inch lines.
6. Bake for 8 minutes or until edges of the cookies are brown. Allow to cool on wire rack. Take many many pictures. They like it.

Note: I have since listened to the Shooter Jennings CD and it's great! It's my favorite kind of country music - the kind that only a Manhattan dweller can produce. He sounds like Gram Parsons-tinted Rolling Stones with Mary J. Blige on the backing vocals, occasionally. I am going to his show in two weeks! Btw, Gram Parsons was just about the coolest person that ever lived. 10-14-06.


anthony griffiths said...

The cat's tongues made it to Texas, but didn't last long. They were great! Thank you.

Jonathan said...

Those look damn good. I also dig Drea De Matteo.

Anna said...

Yeah, I kinda want to be her when I grow up.

lara griffiths said...

4 the few anthony let me have they were great! i think i had my own back as i had the last one....

Anna said...

Yay! I am glad that you like them.