Chocolate, Grapefruit, and Star Anise Cookies with White Chocolate Ganache Filling
In my previous post on the citrus booty I brought back from my Christmas visit to my hometown, Pensacola, FL, I mentioned that I don't care for grapefruit and wasn't sure what to do with the specimens I brought back. Well, I now have to eat those words and boy, am I glad! I found this recipe for chocolate cookies while searching Epicurious for desserts with grapefruit as an ingredient. I knew a chocolate cookie with a hint of grapefruit zest was a safe bet because almost any citrus flavor complements chocolate well. I also really liked that this recipe added a bit of complexity to the cookie flavor with the addition of star anise. I decided to amp up the complexity just a bit more by sprinkling fleur de sel on the tops of the cookies.
After making these cookies, it occurred to me that they would be even better with a filling to sandwich between them. I had left over white chocolate from the Baked Sunday Mornings challenge I participated in so I made the same white chocolate ganache from the Almond Joy Tart. I really like that ganache- the richness of the cream tempers some of the sweetness of the white chocolate. I added a bit grapefruit zest to the ganache to really make it pop. The combination of dark and white chocolate with the bright citrus flavor and the nuances of the spices worked out even better than I had hoped. I had to bring these cookies in to work so I didn’t gobble them all up!
adapted from an Epicurious recipe
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1/4 c (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, diced
1 t plus 1/4 c sugar
3 whole star anise
1/4 c all purpose flour
1 T unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 t coarse kosher salt
1/4 t baking powder
2 large eggs
2 T honey
2 t finely grated grapefruit peel
Fleur de sel, for sprinkling on tops of cookies
White Chocolate Ganache Filling- adapted from Baked Explorations
8 ounces good quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1 c heavy cream
1 T grapefruit zest
1. Combine chocolate and butter in medium heatproof bowl and melt over a double boiler. Or put the bowl of chocolate in the microwave and heat in 10-second intervals until the chocolate is almost melted then remove and stir until completely melted and smooth. In spice mill or coffee grinder, grind 1 teaspoon sugar and the 3 whole star anise to a fine consistency. Transfer to small bowl; whisk in flour, cocoa, coarse salt, and baking powder.
2. In a mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or by hand in large bowl, beat remaining 1/4 cup sugar, eggs, honey, and grapefruit peel until thick and smooth. Fold in chocolate, then fold in dry ingredients. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and chill batter until cold and firm, at least 45 minutes and up to 1 day.
3. Preheat oven to 375°F. While the oven is heating, make the ganache. Place the white chocolate in a medium heatproof bowl. In a small saucepan set over medium heat, heat the cream just to a boil. Pour the cream over the white chocolate and let it stand for 30 seconds. Slowly, starting in the center of the bowl, whisk the cream and white chocolate until smooth. Cover and refrigerate the ganache for 4 hours or overnight before proceeding.
4. When the oven is up to temperature, line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop batter by tablespoonfuls approximately 2 inches apart onto the prepared sheets.
5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time on the middle rack of the oven. Bake for approximately 6 minutes, then sprinkle fleur de sel on tops of cookies and rotate pan. Continue to cook for another 4-6 minutes, until the cookies look dry. The cookies will need to bake about 10-12 minutes in total. Cool on the baking sheet for approximately 3 minutes, then transfer the cookies to racks and cool completely.
6. Meanwhile, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the white chocolate ganache at medium speed until soft peaks form. Do not over whip! Gently fold in the grapefruit zest.
7. Match cookies up by size and shape. Using an offset spatula, spread icing on one cookie and sandwich with another.
P.S. I was so happy that I got to use the Tupelo honey I brought back from home in this recipe. I’m a little weird about honey (I get that from my Mom) and almost never fail to pick up a jar wherever I travel. Some people like to sample regional craft beers to get a flavor for a place. Me, I’m all about the honey.
While I was home I went shopping at my old co-op, Ever’man Natural Foods, and was thrilled to see that they had Tupelo honey. Tupelo is lighter and sweeter than many other honey varieties and has an almost delicate taste. It's made from the blossoms of the tupelo gum tree which grows in flooded forest areas. Northwest Florida is well known for its exquisitely flavored Tupelo honey due to the abundant growth of the white tupelo in the region.