Tea of the Week: Bigelow’s Girl Scout Thin Mints Herbal Tea

Knock, knock, knock. And there they are…Girl Scouts, with their adorable smiling faces, asking if you’d like to buy just a few boxes of cookies.

It’s a daunting dilemma having Girl Scouts show up at your front door, especially if you’re trying to watch your calories. You don’t actually want to tell the sweet little girls “no,” do you? For those of you who feel my pain, there’s hope for us and it comes in the form of tea…more specifically, Girl Scout Thin Mints Tea!

In partnership with the Girl Scouts of America, Bigelow Tea Company launched its cookie-flavored teas earlier this year. As the operator of the largest working tea plantation in the US, leave it to Bigelow Tea to come up with a distinctively all-American tea flavor to delight the young at heart. On top of that, Cindi Bigelow, the third-generation President of the companywas once a proud Girl Scout herself!

Next year, I’m hoping that the Girl Scouts come knocking on my door with both cookies and tea. How great would that be? In the meantime (for those of us in the US), be on the lookout at your local grocery stores. Like the cookies, Thin Mints Herbal Tea is a seasonal offering, so it’s a great idea to stock up while you can!Tasting Notes for Bigelow’s Girl Scout Thin Mints Herbal Tea:

BREWING TIPS:  Brew at 212 degrees F for 4 minutes. This tea brews dark and strong quickly so keep an eye out while it’s steeping.
THE BLEND:  A mix of peppermint, chicory, rose hips, licorice root, low-fat alkalized cocoa powder, natural chocolate flavors, and other natural flavors.
THE SCENT:  Of soft, bright peppermint with hints of rich caramel.
THE STEEP:  The color is dark chocolate brown, like coffee! Each sip starts with the smooth taste of chocolate followed by mild mintiness. The chocolate and mint flavors are well-balanced where one doesn’t overwhelm the other. This is great served on its own if you want to taste more of its peppermint base. Enjoy it with a splash of milk to highlight its rich, deep, chocolate flavors. I like the taste of this brew hot, not cold.
GET IT:  The tea is available in grocery stores during the months of March, April, and May this year. It can also be found on Amazon, but not at the Bigelow site. I found my tea at Sprouts, alongside Caramel and Coconut, the tea version of Caramel deLights (a.k.a. Samoas)!
FOOD PAIRING:  Since this is caffeine-free, refreshingly minty, and inspired by cookies, it’s ideal as a substitute for dessert. If you want to indulge, serve this with anything chocolatey like Chocolate Petit Fours, Homemade Chocolate Pocky, or those leftover Thin Mints parked in your freezer (are there any left!?). The touch of mint makes this tea a delicious partner to a few pieces of dark chocolate. This is also great for the calorie conscious who are craving a taste of Thin Mint Cookies minus the guilt.

Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Ah yes, here we are at Valentine’s Day, once again. Back when I was younger, I remember February 14th as being either a day of great excitement or a total downer (a.k.a Singles Awareness Day). Now that I’m older and somewhat wiser, I’m glad to have developed an enlightened perspective: it’s simply the day that helps florists stay in business before Mother’s Day finally arrives! Gotta love the wisdom that comes with age.

I’ve told my hubby this year that all he needs to do to make me a happy gal is to give me a hand-written love note. No flowers, no baubles, just the a note that I can look back at someday and smile. In return, I’ll present him with these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours, a gift that we both can benefit from. That’s the thing about V-Day…even if there’s no handsome prince or lovely lady in the picture, you’ve gotta find a way to treat yourself right!
These Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours may look complicated to make, but I take a huge short cut by starting with store-bought pound cake. Pound cake is ideal for making petit fours since the crumb is tight and the vanilla base easily pairs with so many gorgeous flavors, from fruit jams to best-quality cocoa powder to infused booze (framboise and hazelnut liquor are my favorites!).glazed chocolate petit fours 2Since I hate running into problems with tempering chocolate, I like to either use a ganache or chocolate glaze to coat my petit fours. If you like a less-sweet petit four that’s still rich in chocolate taste, I’d definitely suggest going for the second option of a gelatin-based chocolate glaze. As you can see, it dries super glossy and smooth. It’s also easier to work with than regular chocolate is.
Another tip for making petit fours is to make sure you have some mini cupcake liners to serve them in. Creating these little cakes can be a messy affair, especially since the excess coating has to drip off. Cupcake liners help to hide a rough bottom edge so that the cakes look as elegant as possible.

A tart, ruby-red cup of hibiscus tea is my drink of choice when it comes to these Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours. You can also turn up the romance with Wedgwood’s 1870 Golden Rose or T-Project’s I’ll Take You There tea blends. And with that I’d like to wish you a very Happy Valentine’s Day! Here’s hoping that it’s one filled with substance, heart, and a healthy dose of chocolate!

Glazed Chocolate Petit Fours

Makes 20 petit fours.

Ingredients:

1 standard pound cake loaf, store-bought is fine

1/4 cup framboise

1/4 cup raspberry jam, seedless and sieved to remove chunky bits

3.5 oz. marzipan

cornstarch, for rolling marzipan

heart-shaped sprinkles

white nonpareils 

{Chocolate Glaze}

1/3 cup water

1 Tbsp+ 2 tsp unflavored gelatin

3/4 cup sugar

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup best-quality cocoa powder, sifted

2 tsp vanilla extract

Equipment:

serrated knife

ruler

oval-shaped petit four cutter

work surface

spreading knife

rolling-pin

pastry brush

small bowl

medium pot

wooden spoon

dipping or regular fork

1 small ladle

cooling rack

large sheet pan fitted with parchment paper

kitchen tweezers

small sharp knife or thin cookie spatula

20 mini cupcake liners

Directions:

1.)  Prepare the Pound Cake. On a work surface using a serrated knife, cut the pound cake loaf into horizontal, large slices, about 8 1/2 ” x 4 1/2″ x 3/8″ thick. Now, use the oval petit four cutter to cut out as many ovals as possible from the flat, even cake slices (save the topmost, golden crust of the pound cake for snacking on later). You should be able to punch out 60 ovals from one standard pound cake loaf.

2.)  Flavor and Layer the Cake Slices. Brush each cake oval with a light and even dab of framboise or flavoring liquor. You want the cake to be moist without drenching it. After all the cake ovals are moistened, use a spreading knife to apply a thin, even layer of jam on each oval. Stack the cake ovals up, neatly, 3 to a stack. Place the 20 cake stacks on a large plate and put them in fridge to chill for about 10 minutes.

3.)  Roll and Attach the Marzipan. While the cake stacks are chilling, roll the marzipan to 1/16″, about the thickness of a quarter. If the marzipan is sticky, you can use some cornstarch to dust the work surface and your rolling-pin. Punch out 20 ovals of marzipan with the same oval petit four cutter. Take the cakes out of the fridge, then lay one marzipan piece on each cake stack. Place the cakes back in the fridge to chill.

4.)  Prepare the Chocolate Glaze. In a small bowl, bloom the gelatin powder with the 1/3 cup of water. In a medium pot, heat the sugar, cream, and cocoa powder over low heat. Stir the mixture until it starts to simmer. Shut the heat off, then add the bloomed gelatin and vanilla extract. Continue to mix until the glaze is thick and glossy, without any gelatin lumps.

5.)  First Coating. Take the cakes out of the fridge. Holding a fork over the pot with your left hand, use your right hand to place one cake on the dipping fork. Again, use your right hand to use the small ladle to pour the glaze on over the cake so that it becomes entirely enrobed in the glaze. Let the excess glaze drip off the cake, then transfer it to a cooling rack placed over a large baking sheet fitted with parchment. Repeat this process for the rest of the petit fours.

6.)  Second Coating and Decoration. For best looks and taste, coat each petit four a second time in the glaze using the same fork and ladle method in Step 5. Immediately after each transferring each petit four to the cooling rack, use kitchen tweezers to carefully place the heart-shaped sprinkle and 3 dots on the cakes. The cakes cool fast so if you do not decorate after each coating the sprinkles will not adhere. If the pot of glaze starts to cool and gets too thick, simply put it back on low heat to thin it out again.

7.)  Finish the Petit Fours. After all the petit fours have been double-coated and decorated, let them cool for about 20 minutes before using a sharp knife or thin cookie spatula to release them from the cooling rack. Place them in mini cupcake liners for easy serving. The cakes should be stored in the fridge in an airtight container.

Pumpkin Chai Energy Balls

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am that it’s pumpkin season again! Even though you can technically eat pumpkin anytime of the year, there’s something about eating it in the fall that makes it taste that much more satisfying and delicious.

The only thing better than eating pumpkin is eating pumpkin with a spicy chai tea. My recipe for Pumpkin Chai Energy Balls combine these autumn inspired ingredients together with a host of other nutritious add-ins including old-fashioned oatmeal, almonds, flax seeds, chia seeds, and of course…pumpkin purée!

These energy balls are completely flour-free, and don’t require any cooking. To give them bulk without making them too gritty, I use both pulverized oatmeal and almond meal. I reserve some of the oats to be left whole so that you still get a bit of chew and texture in each nibble.

When it comes to the chocolate chip addition, I like to add the darkest chocolate chips I can find. Good quality, slightly bitter-tasting chocolate chips make the bold chai flavors stand out and also help to balance out the mild sweetness of the maple syrup. These moist, flavorful bites are perfect as a mid-day pick me up or as a reasonable swap out when you are looking to get a cookie fix. Pumpkin Chai Energy Balls also make an ideal snack before hitting the gym and are convenient to-go treats as they are easy to pack and hold their shape well. If you please, even try enjoying a few for breakfast. You just might have to come back to this ingredient list to remind yourself that you aren’t actually eating dessert!

Pumpkin Chai Energy Balls

Makes 30 balls.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup almond meal

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, ground to a meal in food processor

1/2 cup old-fashioned oats, left whole

2 Tbsp ground flax seeds

2 Tbsp chia seeds

6 Tbsp chai tea mix (I used Trader Joe’s Spicy Chai Tea Latte)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup dark chocolate chips

1/2 cup pumpkin purée (just from a can)

1/2 cup almond butter

1/4 cup maple syrup

Equipment:

large mixing bowl

mixing spoon

cookie scoop with 1 3/4″ diameter (2 Tbsp)

Directions:

1.)  Place all dry ingredients in the mixing bowl, then lightly toss together. Add the wet ingredients, then mix everything together with the spoon.

2.)  Use the ice cream scoop to scoop out a 2 Tbsp portion of the mixture, then roll it into a smooth ball. Repeat this process to form 30 energy balls. Store the energy balls in a sealed box or bag in the fridge.

Matcha Chip Biscotti

I normally like the texture of my baked goods to be chewy and soft. The exception to this is biscotti, a twice-baked and crisp cookie that’s destined for dunking. A soak in some tea, milk, or even coffee, and this rustic cookie yields a bulky yet tender bite–a slightly healthier version of milk and cookies!

I’m always looking for ways to use my best cocoa powder. I love that cocoa powder has relatively few calories, and yet it’s packed with robust chocolatey flavor. In this recipe, the cocoa powder meets Matcha Chocolate Chips, made from mixing white chocolate with beautiful matcha tea powder. Slightly bitter flavors from both the cocoa and matcha powders help to tame the sweetness of the white chocolate, making the biscotti rich and decadent without tasting overly sweet. 

I like to pair my Matcha Chip Biscotti with a cup of soothing matcha milk. It sounds like a fancy drink, but there’s nothing to whipping some up. In a small glass, simply stir a teaspoon of matcha powder in with a small splash of hot water, then top off the concentrated tea with your favorite milk. I prefer almond milk, but you can use regular milk, soy milk, or even light coconut milk in the same way. Matcha milk is delicious warm or cold, and goes perfectly with sweetened baked goods, especially these Matcha Chip Biscotti! 

If stored in an airtight container, Matcha Chip Biscotti will taste great for up to two weeks. Proper drying during the second round of baking will help them to keep their incredibly crunchy texture. It seems ironic to bake them so crisp just to soak them back into a liquid, but contrasting textures make this tea and cookie combination fabulous.

Matcha Chip Biscotti are perfect in the morning or as an afternoon pick-me-up snack. Be generous when adding those Matcha Chocolate Chips and finish the cookies off with a few gulps of matcha milk. The unique pairing will leave you zipping through your day like nobody’s business!

Matcha Chip Biscotti

Makes 15 biscotti.

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

1/3 cup best-quality cocoa powder

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

3 Tbsp butter, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg, at room temperature

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1/4 cup matcha chocolate chips

1/2 cup sliced almonds

Equipment:

large bowl or stand mixer with paddle attachment

medium bowl

large baking sheet fitted with parchment

large cutting board

serrated knife

Directions:

1.)  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large bowl, cream butter and sugar together. Mix in egg and extracts until throughly incorporated.

2.)  In a medium bowl, mix together flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add this mixture to the butter mixture until it is all added in. You can use the stand mixer (on low speed) or a large spoon to do this. Stir in chocolate chips and almonds.

3.)  Shape the dough directly on the baking sheet into an 11″ by 3″ log. Bake for about 25-30 minutes, until the biscotti log is firm and dry to the touch. Remove from oven, then let cool for 10-15 minutes, until you can use your hands to handle it onto a cutting board.

4.)  Using serrated knife, cut out diagonal slices of the biscotti, about 3/4″ thick, until you get 15 equal cookie pieces. Place the cut biscotti on the original baking sheet and return to oven to bake for an additional 10 minutes until the cookies are hardened and crisp. Remove the baking sheet from oven and transfer the cookies to cool on a cooling rack. Pack the biscotti into an airtight container and store at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Easter Bunny Stroopwafels

Who says chocolate bunnies are only for kids?

Let’s be honest, Easter isn’t Easter without a large chocolate bunny being involved.  These Easter Bunny Stroopwafels are the more enchanted version of those grand hollow Easter bunnies that children enjoy, with a measure of portion control thrown in.  What’s also great about these is that they make good use out of the unique and incredibly delicious Dutch stroopwafel!

Several months back I posted a recipe on tea bark, where fragrant green teas were scattered over thin layers of glossy dark chocolate.  For these Easter Bunny Stroopwafels, I used matcha infused white chocolate to set the stage for some grass-like imagery.  The matcha tea also helps to give the cookies an extra boost in green tea flavor.

When choosing which tea blend to use here, you want a green tea laced with lots of flowers and dried fruits.  Even just plain herbals like lavender and ripped rose buds work well.  Above all, you want to use a tea that is pleasantly fragrant and edible.

Teavana’s Sakura Allure is an ideal tea to use for these Easter Bunny Stroopwafels.  Aesthetically, this is a very beautiful, feminine looking tea, which is exactly why I chose it to use!  This blend is inspired by the cherry blossoms that bloom in Japan every spring.

Tasting Notes:

BREWING TIPS:  2 minutes at 175 degrees F.

THE LEAF:  Long, narrow, dark green tea leaves with chunks of dried cherries, dried mango, candied pineapple, orange peels, hibiscus, rose leaves, and rose buds thrown in.

THE SCENT:  A very strong cherry and floral scent.  I left some in my hot car after my run to Teavana, and the car smelled incredibly fruity by the time I returned!

THE STEEP:  This blend looks and tastes very much like fruit punch.  Since there are many fruits and herbal flowers added in, the caffeine content is lower, so this blend is good for kids or those who are caffeine-sensitive.

*** The thing you need to remember if you use Sakura Allure for this little project is that the dried cherries in the tea are not pitted.  Pit and cut the large dried cherries into little tiny bits before using them to make the tea bark.  The cherries are easy to spot in the blend–they are large, sticky, speckled black clumps.

bunny stroopwafel from aboveEaster Bunny Stroopwafels make an easy and elegant after-brunch dessert.  Enjoy them with a hot, fruity cup of brewed Sakura Allure so that your guests can try the tea in two ways–dried and brewed!  These Easter-themed stroopwafels help to capture a lovely image of the season, reminding us that spring is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings.

And with that, I would like to wish all my blog readers out there a very Happy Easter!!

Easter Bunny Stroopwafels

Makes 6 decorated stroopwafels.

Ingredients:

6 stroopwafels

6 small chocolate bunnies (I used Lindt)

6 small pastel-colored chocolate Easter eggs (I used Cadbury Minis)

1/4 cup white chocolate or candy melts

1 tsp matcha green tea powder

2 Tbsp of a floral, fruity, and fragrant loose-leaf green tea (I used Teavana’s Sakura Allure), plus more for brewing

Equipment:

teacups, with diameter same or less than stroopwafels

baker’s twine or thin decorative ribbon, cut into 8″ pieces

scissors

Instructions:

1.)  Melt the white chocolate or candy melts in the microwave or over a double boiler.  Add in the matcha and mix until the chocolate is an even green color.

2.)  Place 2-3 tsp of the green tea melted chocolate in the top middle of each stroopwafel.  Smooth over the chocolate evenly so that you leave a 1/4″ border all around the top circumference of the stroopwafel.

3.)  Lightly scatter the green tea blend atop the setting green tea chocolate.

4.)  Place an unwrapped chocolate bunny in the center of the stroopwafel, and an egg beside the bunny.  Allow a few minutes for the chocolate to set.

5.) Using baker’s twine or thin string, tie a bow around the neck of each chocolate bunny.  Snip off excess ribbon.  When it’s time to serve, place the stroopwafels atop a teacup filled with the same Sakura Allure you used to make the bark.  Enjoy!