Chocolate and Macha Cat’s Tongue Cookies
Chinese New Year 2011 Baking Part 5
I was intrigued by the appearance of this cookie and the simplicity of the recipe. More importantly, it requires piping which gives me a wonderful opportunity to practice! I first read about this cookie on Crustabakes’ website and was immediately captivated the similarities of its appearance to French tuiles. Both recipes uses very simple ingredients, especially with the use of egg whites, giving them a rather light and crisp texture. Yet they are so different in execution. But the stars of the show are these cat’s tongue cookies so we’ll leave tuiles for another day.
These dainty little tea cookies can be traced back to their European roots, whose recipes differ very little in essence, be it the Spanish lenguas de gato [sic. the actual translation for cat’s tongue in Spanish seems to be lengüeta del gato] or French la langue de chat.They get their name from their resemblance to the muscular hydrostat of the felines, both in shape and its coarse texture. Being rather petite and light, they are ideal as a petits fours secs to go along with afternoon tea, especially my favorite Bourbon vanilla, or just simply when one’s in need for a small nimble.
I searched over the internet for a workable recipe and went back to Crustabakes’ version as her cookies looked very uniform and didn’t produce burnt edges like some other version. I was inspired by Crustabakes’ vanilla-and-chocolate version but didn’t have the guts to pipe them together. Instead, I’m piped them separately in three alternating strips and the results seemed rather satisfactory. And just for the kick of it, I also did a macha version, la langues de chat au thé macha. So atas sounding right? LOL
Here’s Crustabakes’ original recipe
250 g unsalted butter
200 g castor sugar
225 g plain flour
150 ml (about 5) egg whites
1 teasp vanilla extract
Some Chocolate paste
The macha batter after adding Ujinotsuyu Matcha Powder 羽衣宇治抹茶! Duncha just love the luxurious creamy green of it? 🙂
1. Beat butter and sugar till light and fluffy.
2. Add egg whites gradually and beat till it turns even more light and voluminous.
3. Add in vanilla and beat till well mixed
4. Fold in flour
5. Divide batter into half and add chocolate paste into one of that half
6. Fill your piping bags with batter (half chocolate, half white if you are attempting the duo coloured cookies)
7. Pipe onto greased cookie sheet
8. Bake at 350 F (about 175 °C) for about 18 mins or till they turn dry and crisp.
The chocolate batter, after adding cocoa powder and giving it a quick fold in.
Piped separately, the batter appear as little strips due to the nozzle I used.
Below are some modifications I made
1. I didn’t use chocolate paste but instead, used coca powder which worked well, making the cookies very aromatic. But that would invariably mask the buttery vanilla.
2. For the macha green tea version, simply use macha powder at step 5 instead of the cocoa powder. Remember to fold in properly to ensure that the tea or cocoa is well incorporated.
3. I don’t have convection oven so I opened the oven door slightly for about 8-10 seconds, after about 10 mins into the baking time to allow moisture to escape. This would allow the cookies to become more crisp.
4. Use pale-coloured parchment paper or a well-greased alminium baking sheet! Read below and you’ll know why!
5. I piped the coloured batter separately instead of filling them up the same piping bag. No guts!
To be perfectly honest, the cookies didn’t work out well initially. They simply refuse the spread, creating little buttery batons with brown edges instead! After some experimenting I finally found the root to the problem – I was using a dark grey silicon mat, which together with its undulated surface, created the perfect absorber of radiant heat from the oven, causing the base to cook much more quickly than expected and hence the inability to spread. But I dont have parchment paper at home, so instead I circumvent the problem by doing something rather silly. After piping, the baking tray was allowed to sit above the preheated oven, using its radiated heat from inside to cause the batter to melt slightly and develop a more fluid consistency. This allows the batter to level out slightly before being baked. But this has to be done with discretion as heat would also cause the butter to melt and start to ooze out of the batter. That could only spell trouble as the edges of the cookie would literally be sautéing in the melted butter when it is in the oven and will cause the rim of the cookie to brown. So I would take it off the oven top and rest it on a wooden mat once the batter has melted and spread slightly. Once the initial spreading took place it would continue with the remnants of residual heat absorbed by the pan.
To affirm the colour of the mat is really the root of the problem, I removed the silicon mat and laid the baking tray with aluminium foil. True enough, the cookies spread beautifully. But this opened another can of worms as I had problems dislodging the baked cookies from the aluminium base. In the end, I stuck to the oven top spreading method and finished baking the whole batch. *phew*
The effort was quite worth it, especially when the rice aromas of baked green tea versions pervade the kitchen. Simply ethereal!
Chinese New Year is just next week! Time to speed up! So many things to bake and so little time!