Chai Tea Chocolate Chips

Stress. Everybody has it but some deal with it better than others. The last few weeks have been a stressful time for me. As life goes, it feels like I’ve been hit with a host of timelines, expectations, and goals–some workable and some totally out of my hands.

When the going gets tough, there are a few things that inevitably give me comfort. Long walks with my furry cocker spaniel Fred always make me feel better. Some soothing meditation music and a good book can also do wonders. And of course, there’s my favorite cup of tea, Milk Oolong, reassuring from first sip to last.Another pastime that has the power to completely take my mind off of my troubles is baking. For those of you who are avid bakers, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. The difficulty of my baking pursuits are often in direct relationship to my stress levels: the more stressful the time I’m having, the more challenging of a baking project I’ll take on (cue: last year’s birthday cake).

These Chai Chocolate Chips are made for days to come, when I might need to call on baking as a therapeutic way to push through. Like my Matcha Chocolate Chips, you make them ahead of time so that they are ready to go when you are. These Chai Chocolate Chips are flavored with a sugar-free chai mix. And by sugar-free, I mean exclusively made of spices and tea, without added sweeteners of any kind (real or fake).
The chai powder I use doesn’t even have any milk powder in it, and is also available in a non-caffeinated rooibos version. As its ingredient list is quite pure, it’s a great choice not only for drinking, but also for baking and cooking with. Use the chips made from this tea powder to make cookies, muffins, energy balls, and even instantly satisfying mug cakes! Ultimately, they’ll give your everyday baking and cooking projects a tea-inspired boost, a little something special to keep your mind focused on better days ahead.

Chai Chocolate Chips

Makes 1 1/2 cups.

Ingredients:

1 12 oz. package white chocolate chips

2 Tbsp chai tea powder

Equipment:

double boiler

rubber spatula

#5 pastry tip

pastry bag

large drinking glass

2 large baking sheet fitted with parchment paper

Directions:

1.)  Fill the bottom of double boiler with water, making sure the water doesn’t make contact with the base of the top bowl of the double boiler. Bring water to a gentle simmer (bring water to boil, then reduce to very low heat). Place white chocolate in the top bowl of double boiler. Using rubber spatula, gently mix and melt the chocolate.

2.)  Add 4 tsp of the chai tea powder into the melted chocolate and mix in thoroughly.

3.)  In a pastry bag fitted with #5 pastry tip, pour the melted chocolate. It’s easiest to fill the bag by folding the tip over and placing the bag in a glass before filling it with the chocolate. You will have more control over the chocolate flowing out this way.

4.)  Secure parchment paper to a large baking sheet by placing dabs of the same melted chocolate on the bottom four corners of the parchment. Smooth out the parchment so that it is well secured to the sheet and laying completely flat on it.

5.)  Pipe 1/4″ dollops of melted chai tea chocolate on the baking sheet so that the chips don’t touch each other.

6.)  Wait for the chips to completely harden, then release them from the parchment by gently pulling the parchment up from each of the 4 corners towards the center of the baking sheet. Roll the hardened chips with the last 2 tsp of chai powder so that they have a light chai tea coating on the outside. Use the chips in any recipe, as you would chocolate chips.

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.

Matcha Chocolate Chips

I’m always looking for the latest and greatest in gourmet baking items.  I loved it when semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips evolved into the dark and super dark kind.  Next came peanut butter and cinnamon chips, which were fun for making new flavors of tarts and scones.  One of my friends got me into mint baking chips–a nice addition for a pop of freshness and color, especially in chocolate baked goods.  And of course there are white chocolate chips, the most plain yet most versatile of chocolate chips that you will find.  Any macadamia nut cookie just wouldn’t be the same without them.  But hello!  Where are the matcha chocolate chips?  Now you know that’s a good idea!

Matcha chocolate chips are the chips that I wish I could buy at the market but aren’t available. There’s something about the slightly bitter taste of matcha that cuts through the cloying sweetness of white chocolate to create a more complex and balanced taste on the palette. Chocolate chip cookies, ice cream, ganache…with these Matcha Chocolate Chips the possibilities are endless.

At the World Tea Expo, I was offered some samples of Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha, and ended up using it to make these chips.  Cooking grade matcha is a much more affordable version of ceremonial drinking matcha.  As it is used as an ingredient and not meant to be drunk on its own, it’s a lesser quality grade of matcha tea.  Be cautious when purchasing it though, as some brands are dull in color which often translates to a lack of flavor.  I like Aiya’s Cooking Grade Matcha not only because you can get it at a very reasonable price, but also because of its brilliant color and lovely taste.  It’s a great find for someone who uses matcha to cook with as often as I do.  If you prefer, Aiya also carries Organic Cooking Grade Matcha.

If you work fast and can take the heat on your hand, these chips may look more like buttons than chips when you pipe them.  “Buttons” have a more rounded top, whereas “chips” have a little peak to them.  The hotter the chocolate when you pipe it, the more likely these matcha bits will look like buttons.  As the chocolate cools, it’s able to create more pronounced peaks since cooler chocolate holds shape better.

The first time I heard of chocolate chips being referred to as “buttons” was when I was watching Nigella Lawson make some sinfully decadent chocolate chip cookies on the BBC.  I remember falling in love with the word instantly, much preferring it over the word “chips.” Buttons, chips, drops…whatever you decide to call them, this recipe will add a world of possibilities to your baking repertoire.

Matcha Chocolate Chips 

Makes 1 cup of chips (buttons).

Ingredients:

5 1/2-6 ounces white chocolate or vanilla candy melts

1 Tbsp matcha powder (I used Aiya Cooking Grade Matcha)

Equipment:

double boiler

rubber spatula

fine mesh strainer or sifter

#5 pastry tip

pastry bag

large drinking glass

large baking sheet fitted with parchment paper

Directions:

1.)  Fill bottom of double boiler with water, making sure the water doesn’t make contact with the base of the top bowl of the double boiler.  Bring water to a gentle simmer (bring water to boil, then reduce to very low heat).  Place white chocolate or candy melts in top bowl of double boiler.  Using rubber spatula, gently mix and melt the chocolate.

2.)  Sift matcha into the melted chocolate and mix in thoroughly.

3.)  In pastry bag fitted with #5 pastry tip, pour the melted chocolate.  It’s easiest to fill the bag by folding the tip over and placing the bag in a glass before filling it with the chocolate.  You will have more control over the chocolate flowing out this way.

4.)  Secure parchment paper to a large baking sheet by placing dabs of the same melting chocolate on the bottom four corners of the parchment.  Smooth out the parchment so that it is well secured to the sheet and laying completely flat on it.

5.)  Pipe 1/4″ dollops of melted matcha chocolate on the baking sheet so that the chips don’t touch each other.  If you are working with candy melts you will need to pipe faster than if you use white chocolate (candy melts set up/harden faster).

6.)  Wait for the chips to completely harden, then release them from the parchment by gently pulling the parchment up from each of the 4 corners towards the center of the baking sheet.  Use the chips/buttons in any recipe, as you would chocolate chips.