Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake

As with every IMAX Thanksgiving potluck, I test out my annual holiday dessert that I make a number of times across the various social gatherings.  This year, I picked a not-so-seasonal dessert and went with the chocolate and earl grey combination.  I had seen a number of different recipes pairing those two flavors together, but the Real Simple one caught my eye.

The texture of the bundt cake is great.  You get a nice crust that’s reminiscent of a brownie, though no where near as thick, and the inside is moist.  I’ve made this with full-fat sour cream subbed for the yogurt, used nonfat greek yogurt, and whole fat regular. There wasn’t a big difference in flavor with any of those versions.

Chopped Baking Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea
Chopped Baking Chocolate and Earl Grey Tea

Here’s the recipe!

INGREDIENTS:

  • Earl Grey tea bags or 2 tablespoons loose Earl Grey tea leaves
  • cup water
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter
  • eggs
  • cups granulated sugar
  • ounces unsweetened chocolate, melted and cooled
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • teaspoon baking soda
  • teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • Powdered sugar (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat oven to 350° F. Coat an 8-cup fluted tube pan with cooking spray.
  2. Brew the tea in the water 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the tea bags or strain the leaves and set the brewed tea aside.
  3. Using a mixer, beat the butter, eggs, and granulated sugar until fluffy. Blend in the chocolate.

    Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate
    Butter, Eggs, Sugar, Chocolate
  4. Beat in the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, yogurt, and brewed tea. [NOTE: If you use a stand mixer to blend the ingredients in this step, it will make a huge mess even if you start it on low.  I’ve made this four times to date, and it’s happened every single time. I would recommend whisking everything in until everything is just combined.]
  5. Pour into pan. The batter will be a little runny.

    Batter is lighter than it finishes
    Batter is lighter than it finishes
  6. Bake 50 minutes or until a skewer inserted into the cake comes out with only a few crumbs attached. Remove from oven and let stand 5 minutes. Turn out of pan and cool.
  7. Dust with confectioners’ sugar just before serving.

    Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake
    Chocolate Earl Grey Bundt Cake

I ended up making 5 of these between Thanksgiving and Christmas between all of the family dinners and potlucks.  I would say the only pain is cleaning the crevices of the bundt pan that ALWAYS have crumbs stuck to them!

Earl Grey Lemon Bars

I know I recently complained about the New Year Resolutioners that crowd my gym every January, and I’m glad to finally be able to say it’s become a little more normal.  Now that I can finally work out relatively in peace, I’ve been trying to figure out some ways to mix up my routine because it’s becoming… well… routine.  One can only do weights and cardio on a treadmill or elliptical so many times in one week.

I like to intersperse my regular workouts with group exercise classes and have tried almost every single one 24 Hour Fitness has to offer.  I’ve tried Zumba and kick-boxing, but all of the stomping around was really hard on my knees.  I am also terrible at Zumba.  I’m not a quitter when it comes to exercise, but I tried spin once with a coworker, got through 20 minutes of class, mouthed “I can’t feel my crotch!” to each other, and walked out together. Who the hell does spin class?  I mean, are your lady parts made out of leather? How do you deal with that?  Should I have lined the seat of my pants with bubble wrap?  Now I understand why men don’t do spin.

Pilates and yoga are fine, as is this Nike-sponsored “athletic training” class that my gym offers.  But still over a year later, nothing beats The Bar Method in my book despite my self-induced embarassing first experience.  It really is my favorite workout class, but I can’t justify the steep per-class pricepoint for something I’d want to do at least 4 times a week.  However, I just bought the complete set of DVDs, so we’ll see how that goes.

On the topic of breaking routines, I’ve been writing way too many updates about cookies lately, which basically means I’ve been making too many cookies.  Sadly I have a few more cookie posts backlogged on top of a couple more holiday posts!  Yikes!  So, in the spirit of mixing things up, here’s an update on an Earl Grey Lemon Bar I made last month.  I came across the recipe in the June 2012 issue of Cooking Light magazine, and have been saving it for an occasion such as… nothing.  I guess I made these just for fun.

Ingredients

Crust:

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 Earl Grey tea bags, divided
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 8 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

Filling:

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon rind
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar

Directions

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  To prepare crust, line an 8-inch square metal baking pan with foil that extends 2 inches beyond sides; coat foil with cooking spray. Weigh or lightly spoon 1 1/4 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 teaspoon tea leaves from 1 tea bag (discard remaining tea in bag), and salt in a bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or two knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Press into bottom of prepared pan. Bake at 350° for 19 minutes or until lightly browned.

Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt
Flour, Earl Grey Tea Leaves, Powdered Sugar, Salt

2.  To prepare filling, place juice in a medium microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH for 30 seconds. Add remaining 1 tea bag to juice; cover and steep 10 minutes. Squeeze juice from tea bag into bowl; discard tea bag. Combine granulated sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Add rind and eggs to juice; stir with a whisk until combined. Add sugar mixture to juice mixture; stir with a whisk until well combined.

Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice
Earl Grey Tea Steeped in Lemon Juice

3.  Remove crust from oven; pour filling onto hot crust. Bake at 350° for 23 minutes or until set. Cool in pan on a wire rack for 30 minutes. Remove from pan by lifting foil. Remove foil, and cut into 16 bars. Sprinkle bars with powdered sugar.

Earl Grey Lemon Bar
Earl Grey Lemon Bar

The Earl Grey cut some of the tartness of the lemon bar, and gave it a great scent.  I think the crust was a little softer than what I personally would prefer.  If I made these again, I would probably incorporate the Earl Grey tea leaves into a firmer lemon bar crust!

Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies (And Holiday Preview)

Merry Christmas, everyone!

Shit got real this past weekend. As of yesterday, I am proud to say that I have completed the Holiday Bake-A-Thon 2012 (*inserts shameless plugs from 2011, 2010, and 2009 here*).  I may churn out a couple more things before the year is over, but will do so leisurely (versus the stressful, intense 14 hours of baking I conquered this past weekend).  I decided on a tea theme for this year’s holiday homemade gifting, as I have really been enjoying a warm cup of Earl Grey on afternoons where a low-cal pick-me-up was needed.  I mean, who doesn’t love Earl Grey?  Even Captain Picard does! The smell is intoxicating!

Encrusted in sugar
Encrusted in sugar

Andrew  graciously and unknowingly was my guinea pig for this new recipe I wanted to try out, since his 50th birthday was conveniently a month before Christmas.  I found the recipe on Taste Space but had to convert several of the ingredients from grams to teaspoons/cups, most of which didn’t come out into whole measurements. I had to eyeball ingredients once we got into the decimal range, which is why I wanted to test this out before jumping right in to make these as gifts.

Bake til the edges become golden
Bake til the edges become golden

I think they turned out ok!  They are much lighter and airy in texture (almost wafer-like?) than your average shortbread cookie – less buttery, too, which I like.  Rolling the dough logs in sugar before slicing the cookies added a nice little extra crunch to the cookie, but I found that those coming from the dough that I dabbed in water prior to rolling in the sugar had too thick of a sugar “crust”. The moisture from the cold dough is enough to get sugar to stick to it, leaving just the right amount of sugar around the edges of the cookies, in my opinion!  The flavors are also very delicate, and they smell amazing thanks to the bergamot in the tea.  The orange zest balances the bitterness of the tea, too.

Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies
Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

Here’s the recipe with the converted ingredients!

Ingredients (converted to US measurements):

1/2 C + 2 TBSP powdered sugar1 C butter
0.6 TSP salt (1/2 TSP + pinch works!)
0.6 TSP vanilla extract
1 egg, room temperature
1.585 C all-purpose flour (1 C + slightly heaping 1/2 C)
3/4 TSP baking powder
zest of 1 orange
zest of 1 small lime
1 TSP crushed earl grey tea leaves
1/2  C coarse sugar

Directions:

1. Cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add salt, vanilla and zests and continue beating.

2. Add egg, scraping down the sides of the bowl afterward.

3. Add tea leaves and mix together.

4. Sift together flour and baking powder and add to the mix. Blend dry ingredients into wet, only until just combined.

5. Transfer dough to a table dusted with flour and lightly shape into a tube shape. Divide into 4 pieces and roll each piece into 1-1/2 inch diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap or wax paper and chill in fridge for an hour (or longer).

6. When ready to bake, dab logs with a bit of water and roll in coarse sugar.

7. Slice logs with knife (I used my Chef’s knife) into 1/4-inch slices.

8. Bake on a cookie tray lined with parchment paper or a silpat at 360F for ~12 minutes, or until a light golden colour.

Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies
Earl Grey Tea Shortbread Cookies

Waking up at practically dawn to see Les Mis again, and then lots of cooking to do! Off to bed!