You guys! Welcome to Hurricane Holiday, where all of your dreams have been hijacked by nightmares of strange old women assaulting you in your childhood home, pretending to be personal trainers hired by your parents.
...Or is that just a thing that is happening to me?
Well... moving right along then, let's talk holiday cookies! And before people start accosting me for using the word "holiday," ya'll should really read through this blog a little bit more closely. It gets WAY more offensive, trust. Also, if you're curious, I personally celebrate Christmas, but I know a lot of you don't, and hey, cool man, we're all here because we like cookies. Anyway, a couple of months ago, I came across a badass project called the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which organized a - youuuu guessed it-- cookie swap between food bloggers all over the world. An opportunity to receive cookies from other bloggers? An opportunity to also bake cookies for other bloggers, fret over shipping them, then anxiously panic that they'd been destroyed in transit or suddenly went bad/were always bad but my taste buds are wack and now everyone hates me why why whyyyyyy did I agree to this? Serious anxiety, guys. It ain't just a river in... never mind.
But yes, I was terrified to participate. I've got Imposter Syndrome real, real bad, and it doesn't really help that my camera's busted but I'm trying to work on bettering my food photography skills. Fortunately, thanks to some great pep talks, a little bit of hope, a LOT of blasting Beastie Boys tunes and some serious power-pose sessions, I was able to power through and be a part of an awesome swap that benefited research that will combat children's cancer. Who could say no to that? I decided to send a cookie that would be different, yummy, chocolate-y and somewhat difficult, because I am a masochist/love a challenge. Enter the tassie.
So, in the spirit of the holidays, I'll just come right out and be honest with all of you: I had never heard of tassies until about a month ago. Neither had anyone around me. In fact, Jimmy was so confused that once I told him what I was baking, the only question he had was "that's what showgirls wear right? Those are edible?"
The places this boy's mind goes. (Full disclosure: I also thought this.)
Basically, a tassie is a mini-pie that is so mini it is a cookie. Yes. That sounds about right. And because I was looking at making this ultra-chocolatey, I decided to go fudge-filled. And because I wanted to be different/make my life hard/have lots of chai, I decided to go chai-flavored fudge. Set aside a morning and afternoon, friends. Make a hot Spotify playlist. These are worth it.
3 ounces of cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup of butter, softened
1 cup of all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons of sugar
2 tablespoons loose chai for rolling, optional
For the Chai Chocolate Fudge
3 1/2 cups of white sugar
1 1/3 cups of milk
1/4 cup loose chai
2 black tea bags
1/4 cup of light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup of unsweetened cocoa powder
2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon of ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne
1/4 cup of butter, cut into small chunks
1 teaspoon of vanilla
For the tassies, beat cream cheese and butter until combined. Stir in flour and sugar until dough forms. Cover and chill for at least one hour, until dough is firm.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Shape dough into 24 one-inch balls and place each ball in the cup of a mini muffin tin. Roll in loose chai if desired.
Press dough evenly into the bottom and up the sides of each cup.
Bake for 20 minutes, until the shells are golden brown. Allow to cool completely before popping shells out of the tin (you may need to use a spoon to help them).
Time to get fudgin'. Ready a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan and a clip-on candy thermometer. Combine milk, sugar, loose chai and black tea bags in saucepan over medium-low heat.
Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture comes to a boil, takes on a light-brown tone and smells like my parents' house on Christmas morning. Oh, so my dad makes a kick-ass chai most holiday mornings, and it makes the house smell spicy-sweet. So, just cook until you start smelling the good stuff (chai. It's chai). Remove from heat and strain the mixture through a fine mesh strainer into a heatproof bowl. Clean out saucepan thoroughly (or use a new one, rich guy) and pour milky tea mixture back into pan. Add in corn syrup, salt, cocoa powder and spices. Clip thermometer to the side of the pan-- making sure the tip does not touch the bottom of the pan-- and place over medium heat. Stir constantly, until the syrup and cocoa powder have dissolved.
Continue to cook fudge mixture until it reaches 234°F. Watch the mixture closely, as it will get hot very, very quickly. If you're worried about spillage, you can place a wooden spoon over the pan to stop it from bubbling over, like so:
Once it reaches the desired temperature, remove from heat and stir in butter and vanilla until fully incorporated. Stir vigorously for about two minutes until you are sugar no solids remain, then pour fudge mixture into tassie shells.
Allow to set, about one hour, then sprinkle with coarse sea salt if desired.
So, thoughts? They're mini pies, people. They're mini chai chocolate pies, people! How could that be wrong? They weren't. They were so right that I am currently making them-- as in I am waiting for the shells to bake up at this very moment. You could pretty much fill them with whatever your hearts desire-- that means fudge, ganache (which I'm thinking I'll go with tonight), various holiday candies, dried fruit (*shudder*), peanut butter-- you name it. It's the holidays, people. Time for weird dreams and decadent cookie.