Earl Grey & Lemon Thumbprint Cookies


You know what goes great with your afternoon cup of tea? That’s right, more tea! Also cookies.
Earl Grey and lemon is a combo that just works in my opinion, and I think it does so especially well in these cute little thumbprint cookies, balancing the tart flavours with the sweet, and providing an excellent jammy-to-crunchiness-ratio. And I think the little flecks of tea make them look extra pretty.

Additional bonus: They’re also great for 20-something (or any age, really) singles like me that want homemade cookies but don’t want to end up with half a box of stale cookies at the end of the week – just use the small batch recipe that’ll give you about six cookies. (And you have to invest maybe five minutes of actually working time on them.)

(P.S.: I tried to do a specific shape for the indents instead of just a generic round one, which kind of failed – now they just look interestingly shaped. I kind of like it though. Gives them an air of mystery?)

Earl Grey and Lemon Thumbprint Cookies (adapted from this recipe from Hungry Girl Por Vida)

Large Batch (makes about 30 cookies)
115 g (4 oz) butter
55 g (1/4 cup) sugar
125 g (1 cup) flour
50 g (1/2 cup) ground almonds
1 pinch of salt
5 tsp ground earl grey tea leaves
10 tbsp lemon marmalade

Small Batch (makes about 6 cookies)
22 g (1 1/2 tbsp) butter
10 g (2 tsp) sugar
25 g (3 tbsp+1 tsp) flour
10 g (5 tsp) ground almonds
1 tsp ground earl grey tea leaves
1 small pinch of salt
2 tbsp lemon marmalade

1. Preheat oven to 175C (350F). Cream together butter and sugar until fluffy.
2. In a seperate bowl, stir together flour, almonds, earl grey and salt. Add to wet ingredients and mix until combined.
3. Form dough into a roll, wrap in foil and refrigerate for 30 minutes (or put in the freezer for 10).
4. Slice the dough into even portions. Roll each into a ball, flatten and make an indent in the middle. Fill with the marmalade. (For easier filling, warm the marmalade a bit first and then give it a good stir.)
5. Bake for around 15 minutes (or until the edges are slightly browned).

Raspberry White Chocolate cake

Welcome to another cake for one recipe! After successfully getting rid of all of my left over mandarins last time, I’ve been eating raspberries in massive quantities lately (as you might have been able to tell from those Sunday Moment posts) and decided to make a slightly more summery version of the mini cake I posted a while ago.

This isn’t nearly as fast as one of those mug cakes you microwave for two minutes and are done with it, but that’s also not the point (for me, at least). It’s more of a chance to do a bit of proper baking without having to worry about massive left overs later on. Though because it’s baking in really small quantities, it’s actually super quick to put together – you really just need five minutes. Pop it into the oven before you start making dinner and you have a nice little something for afterwards.

Raspberry White Chocolate Cake (a variation of this recipe)

30g (5 tbsp) flour
15g (3 tbsp) ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
20g (5 tsp) sugar
1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp + 2 tsp milk
25g (5 tsp) yoghurt
10g (1 tbsp) white chocolate
A handful raspberries

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Mix flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Chop chocolate into small pieces.
2. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, milk and yoghurt. Add flour mixture and white chocolate and mix until incorporated.
3. Pour dough into an ovenproof jar*. Top with as many raspberries as you can squeeze in, pressing them into the dough.
4. Bake for around 45 minutes until golden brown.

* The jar I used is 290ml (10oz), which seems like a great fit for the amount of cake you get. The dough doesn’t look like a lot before baking, but rises up quite a bit.

Mandarin Coconut Tart

The tricky thing with scaling recipes down is usually the eggs. Lots of recipes still make enough to feed half a football team if you scale them down to the 1 egg mark – I mean, you can work with half an egg, but then you have the other half sitting in your fridge for ages. I recently got these cute little tartlet pans (thank you, mum!) and I’ve been wanting to do some tarts for one, but as far as the dough for said mini tarts goes, you’re stuck with the egg dilemma again. The trick to solving it? Working with halves in the dough while making a filling that also requires egg.

This recipe makes the perfect amount of dough for my little pans, and I’m just going to take a wild guess that it should be alright for most other tartlet pans as well. I originally made this using only the smooth orange filling (which is what the recipe this is based on is), and while it was nice it seemed a bit bland and just not overly exciting. So I dressed it up a little while also getting rid of some leftovers – namely mandarin oranges (yup, still the same ones that made me bake this cake) as well as shredded coconut. The result was a great success (if I may say so myself) – a nice, slightly tropical tea time treat. Perfect for having a friend over or just for yourself. (Sharing is greatly overrated.)

Mini Mandarin Coconut Tart (loosely based on this recipe)

For the dough:
50g (6 1/2 tbsp) flour
15g (1 tbsp) sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 egg yolk (you’ll use the rest of the egg later)
25g (5 tsp) butter

For the filling:
1 egg (minus half the egg yolk)
15g (1 tbsp) sugar
55g (1/4 cup minus 1 tsp) sour cream
2 mandarins
1/3 tbsp corn starch
1/4 tsp orange zest (optional)

For the streusel:
10g (4 tsp) flour
5g (1 tsp) sugar
8g (1/2 tbsp) butter
5g (2 1/2 tsp) shredded coconut

1. Sift the flour into a bowl and make a little indent in the middle. Put the half egg yolk, sugar and salt in. Cut the butter into little pieces and spread around the egg. Knead everything into a smooth dough. (I use a pastry blender which works pretty well, I’m sure you could do it just as well with a food processor.) If you feel like your dough is too crumbly to work with, add a tiny bit of milk. Wrap the dough up and chill for 30 minutes.
2. Preheat your oven to 200°C (390°F). Roll out your dough to be round and a little bigger than the bottom of your greased tartlet pan. Transfer it to your pan and prick the base a few times with a fork. Put some baking paper on your dough and fill it with beans (or whatever else you have laying around – loose change also works) to weigh it down. Bake for 10 minutes.
3. For the filling, mix the rest of your egg with the sugar. Mix in sour cream and corn starch. Add juice from one mandarin as well as optional orange zest and mix together.
4. For the streusel knead flour, sugar, butter and coconut together until small crumbs form.
5. Peel the other mandarin, separate into segments and distribute them on the dough (once it’s done baking). Pour the filling on top (carefully). Top with streusel mix.
6. Turn the oven down to 140°C (285°F) and bake for 25 minutes. During the last 5 minutes, turn the temperature up to 180°C (355°F) to make sure the streusel topping gets a nice golden colour.

Mandarin Almond Cake

Everytime I get groceries I feel like I have two choices: buy the cheap bulk package and resign myself to eating the same thing all week (and there’s still a chance it’ll go bad before I can get through it all), or buy the cutesy single-friendly sized portion for about double the prize. Which, when you’re a twenty-something single like me, is sort of a lose-lose situation.

I have the same dilemma with baked goods – I love baking, but it’d be nice to be able to enjoy a piece of cake without having to reluctantly munch on the stale left-overs a week later. So I’ve been on a bit of a mission lately, trying to find recipes that can be scaled down to single-friendly versions (and aren’t microwavable mug cakes). I figured I’m likely not the only one out there with this issue, so I thought it might be nice to share my experiments here!

This mandarin cake was the result of another bulk buying issue – a few weeks ago, I bought some mandarins (and by some, I mean a kilo because that’s the smallest size they came in) and then consequently forgot to take them to work with me like every single day. Cue this delightful little cake!

It’s super fast to throw together and just the right size for me – I’ve been cutting it in half as an everyday afternoon or after dinner snack, but you could easily eat the whole thing in one sitting as well. The mandarines keep it really moist and add a nice hint of bitterness to it which I really like.

Mandarin Almond Cake (for one) (adapted from this recipe)

30g (5 tbsp) flour
15g (3 tbsp) ground almonds
1/2 tsp baking powder
20g (5 tsp) sugar
1/2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp + 2 tsp milk
25g (5 tsp) yoghurt
1 mandarin*
2 tsp icing sugar

1. Preheat oven to 180°C (355°F). Mix flour, ground almonds and baking powder. Peel mandarin and divide into segments, removing most of the pith.
2. In a separate bowl, mix sugar, oil, milk and yoghurt. Add flour mixture and mandarin, saving one or two segments.
3. Pour into an ovenproof jar** and bake for around 35 minutes.
4. For the glaze, mix 2 tsp icing sugar with the juice from the leftover mandarin segments. Glaze cake once it has cooled down.

* I used fresh mandarins, but canned will work just as well.
** I used a 290ml (about 10oz) weck jar, feel free to use any other ovenproof jar/dish/ramekin/muffin tin.

Chai Snickerdoodles

Growing up in Germany, my main impressions of life in the US came from TV shows and movies – though knowing how accurate media representation can be (Surprise! We don’t all skip around in Lederhosen, a beer in the left and a sausage in the right over here), I’ve always been quite sceptical about the amount of realism depicted in the O.C., Bring It On or Buffy. (Other than, you know, the whole vampire slaying thing.) As someone who’s seen a lot more castles than football games in her life, the whole yellow-school-bus-cheerleader-try-outs-hall-pass lifestyle seemed just a tad out there.

So when I moved to the US for university, I got super excited every time I discovered an overly cliché thing that actually exists. When you’ve spent your whole school life without prom, football teams, spring break or lockers, the fact that chinese take-out actually comes in white and red cardboard containers can seem a whole lot more glamorous than you think.  (One of my favourite thing about college parties was the fact that people actually use those red cups. Amazing!) Also, if you’ve always thought of tornadoes as things that only happen in movies, the midwest can be a bit of a scary place.

Anyway, Snickerdoodles were right up there – cookies that people in Veronica Mars make (or more recently, the Lizzie Bennet Diaries), not real life. Fortunately though, people do actually make them. And they’re really tasty. And if you haven’t seen the Lizzie Bennet Diaries, you should.

I’ve seen a few recipes for Chai Snickerdoodles, but I wanted to try to actually incorporate tea, not just the spices. I’ve recently stumbled across the idea of tea-infused butter, so I thought I’d give it a try for this. I used Harney & Son’s Indian Spice, but anything in the general chai direction would work.
I scaled this recipe down quite a bit because there’s no way I (even with the help of my flatmate) can eat the amount of cookies the original recipe makes. (More on this recurring problem in the next recipe post btw!) So if you want more cookies, refer to the Smitten Kitchen recipe and just switch out the butter and spices. (I also always forget to count how many cookies I get out of a recipe, but my educated guess for this one would be around ten to twelve.)

Chai Snickerdoodles (adapted from a Martha Stewart recipe via Smitten Kitchen)

110g (1 cup minus 2 tbsp) flour
2/3 tsp cream of tartar
1/3 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
75g (1/3 cup) chai-infused butter (see recipe below)
112g + 20g (1/2 cup + 1 1/2 tbsp) sugar
1 small egg
Cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves

1. Mix flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt in a bowl. In a second bowl, beat butter and 112g (1/2 cup) sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and mix until combined.
2. Add the dry ingredients to the second bowl and mix until combined. Chill the dough for an hour.
3. Preheat oven to 200°C (400°F). Mix 20g (1 1/2 tbsp) sugar with the spices.
4. With the help of a teaspoon, form balls out of the dough, roll them in the sugar-spice-mix and place them on a baking tray with parchment paper – leaving enough space between them to expand. Bake for ten minutes.

Chai-infused Butter (based on this method from Cupcake Project)

90g (1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp) unsalted butter (approximately)*
12 g (around 9 tsp) loose-leaf chai

1. Melt the butter in a saucepan. Add your tea leaves and leave the pan over low heat for five minutes.
2. Remove the pan from heat and let it stand for another five minutes.
3. Pour mixture through a sieve. (Pressing the leaves down with a spoon helps.) Let the whole thing cool down.

*You will lose some butter in the process, so we’re starting out with slightly more butter than the cookie recipe calls for. If – depending on your tea leaves squeezing abilities – you should end up with less butter than the 1/3 cup, just replace the rest with regular unsalted butter.

Green Tea Meltaway Cookies (or what to do with terrible tea)

In the past year or two I’ve come to quite enjoy green tea. All the green tea I have at my current flat is loose leaf, so a few weeks ago I was looking for some conveniently bagged green tea I could take to the office. During my Christmas tea experiment, I generally enjoyed Teekanne’s varieties the most, so when I stumbled upon their fig flavoured green tea, I figured it couldn’t go too terribly wrong – I like green tea, I like figs, sounds alright, doesn’t it? Wrong. I’m sorry to report that this tea tastes fairly nasty.

5 o'clock: Green Tea Meltaway Cookies

The tea itself tastes slightly bitter when you first drink it (and I experimented with brewing this – temperature, steeping time, tea/water ratio, you name it) and then leaves you with a really unpleasant aftertaste that made my mouth feel weirdly squeaky and dry. After suffering through half the box I really couldn’t bring myself to brew another cup. Being a lowly paid intern however, I don’t really fancy throwing half a package of tea away either.
The answer, apparently, is to counterbalance weird flavour with deliciousness and bake some cookies. Fun fact: About 99% of green tea cookie recipes I googled used matcha powder, which is nice and all, but not what I was looking for. So instead I decided to adapt these lime meltaway cookies that I’ve been meaning to make for ages anyway.

5 o'clock: Green Tea Meltaway Cookies

The good news is that these cookies are delicious! The weird flavour of the tea still comes through a bit (my flatmate described it as “having a slightly perfumy aftertaste”), but not nearly as badly as when I was drinking it – I’ve been quite happily munching away at these. They’re awesomely tender (hence the ‘meltaway’ part) and the subtle flavours of the lime and the tea make it a great little cookie. I imagine they should be especially yummy with non-terrible tea. ;)

5 o'clock: Green Tea Meltaway Cookies

Green Tea Meltaway Cookies
(adapted from this Martha Stewart recipe)

85g (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
20g + 45g (1/2 cup) icing sugar
1 tbsp lime juice
120g (1 cup) flour
12g (1 tbsp) corn starch
1 pinch of salt
1 tbsp green tea

1. Mix butter and 20g (1/6 cup) icing sugar until nice and fluffy. Grind green tea with a mortal and pestle (or a spice jar and tea cup/whatever you have laying around). Mix the tea and the lime juice into the butter-sugar-mixture.
2. Whisk flour, corn starch and salt together. Stir into the butter-sugar-mixture until just combined.
3. Roll dough into logs (about 4 cm/1.5 in in diameter), wrap in foil or cling film and refrigerate for at least an hour.
4. Preheat oven to 175°C (350°F). Slice logs into small round coins, place on a baking tray with parchment paper and bake for 10 minutes. (They should be barely golden around the edges.)
5. Once you take them out and they’re not super hot anymore (but still warm), place the rest of the icing sugar into a plastic bag, pop the cookies in and give them a good (but gentle) shake to cover them with the icing sugar. Makes about one tray.