Can you believe that it's already the 22nd?! (Wasn't
It's okay, really. Everything will be fine. And as soon as I can locate the source of glitter that's Everywhere (on the kitchen counters, on table tops, in the utensil drawers, in my hair, on the cats, inside coffee cups...), things will be even better.
Know what also makes everything better? Cookies. Especially sandwich cookies. Especially sandwich cookies that sandwich a layer of ganache.
Translated, these cookies are "Grandmother's kisses." They're sweet, delicate, and full chocolaty almond goodness. The layer of chai-infused ganache is sheer bliss! (And so simple!) All you do is soak some chai tea in hot cream, and then pour it over the patiently waiting chocolate. I can't wait to try this technique with other teas, or, better yet, some orange zest!
Just a quick note about this recipe; These cookies are very fragile, so be sure to use a light hand when spreading the ganache. And because they're so rich, be sure to share. There is nothing worse than a cookie-induced stomach ache during the holiday season...almost nothing. (Glitter in your contact lens is quite painful too.)
Bocca di Nonna with Chai-infused Ganache (adapted from Better Homes and Gardens "Ultimate Cookies & Bars" issue)
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup (that's 1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 1/2 cups finely ground almonds
1/3 cup heavy cream
3 Chai tea-tea bags, or fill a tea ball with loose-leaf chai
4 ounces of finely chopped, bittersweet chocolate (you may use milk chocolate if you prefer.)
In a small bowl, sift together the flour and cocoa powder. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand-mixer, fitted with paddle attachment (or any large mixing bowl, if using a hand-held), beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute. Add the sugar and almond extract, and beat until combined (scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed). Add the almonds and beat to combine. Add the flour mixture and, with the mixer on low, beat just until all the dry streaks have disappeared. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for about 1 hour.
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line 2 cookie sheets with tin foil. (You can use parchment paper, but because the cookies are on the greasy side, I found the foil easier to wipe off between batches.)
Remove the dough from the refrigerator. Using a slightly rounded teaspoon, shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Place the balls onto the cookie sheet, leaving at least 2-inches of space between each one. (The cookies spread out a lot while they're baking, so be sure to leave lots of wiggle room.) Gently press each cookie to flatten slightly.
Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm. [Note: My cookies were ready after only 9 minutes, but my oven is finicky. Just keep an eye on them after the 9-minute mark...if the centers don't appear too 'wet', you can take them out.]
Place the sheets on a cooling rack. Once the cookies have cooled, carefully remove them from the sheets using a thin spatula. Cool completely before adding the ganache. [Note: The cookies are very delicate, so handle them carefully. When they're cool enough to handle, try to pair up cookies that match in size, and place them on top of each other until the ganache is ready.
Prepare the ganache: In a small saucepan, bring the heavy cream to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat and add the tea bags or tea ball. Cover the pan and let the tea steep for 15 minutes.
Remove the tea from the cream and return to a simmer. Remove the pan from the heat. Add the chopped chocolate and let it rest in the hot tea for about 5 minutes. Once the chocolate has softened, use a whisk to stir it into the cream until the mixture is smooth and silky.
Using a light hand, spread about 1 teaspoon of cream onto half of the cooled cookies, and then top with the remaining halves.
Makes about 20-28 sandwich cookies!