I found out a couple weeks ago that Fonseca BIN 27 Port is holding a contest, asking entrants to create a cookie recipe that pairs well with, well, duh, port.
“Oh, that’s a good idea!” said Shake, when I told him about what I had in mind to make for the contest.
“We have to go buy some port.”
“Why don’t we have any port in our house?”
Good question, man. We seem to have everything else. The contest doesn’t require you to include port in the recipe nor in the photo, but how else were we going to taste-test to make sure the cookies went well with port?! (I don’t even know why I bother rationalizing our purchase of more liquor.)
So, my idea for the contest was to take flavors I knew went well with port—chocolate and cheese—and incorporate them into a barely sweet shortcake-style cookie. I’m also fond of infusing smoked tea into my desserts, and I liked the idea of incorporating a smoky flavor, to evoke the concept of smoking a cigar after dinner with a glass of port.
Honestly, I am not a fan of cigars—if we’re not in a well-ventilated room, the smell can really turn my stomach—but I have such a strong image of port being associated with dudes in velvet smoking jackets and a snifter glass of an after-dinner libation. So, I’m calling these “Smoking Jacket Cookies” — they’re dark, a bit smoky and elegant, but in a kind of cheesy (get it? Haha!) way.
By the way, there is twice as much cream cheese shown in these photos as actually went into the cookies. I bought one of those enormous three-pound boxes at Costco and I chopped up about 10 ounces. Then I realized that I was using only a half-pound of chocolate and therefore too much cheese had been cut. (That’s my last lame cheese joke, I swear.) But I’d already taken the ingredients photos and now almost all my ingredients were in the mixing bowl. So, inaccurate photo. Sorry!
In the “Sweet Endings” seminar at the Hawai‘i Food & Wine Festival, Alan Wong’s Restaurants wine director Mark Shishido mentioned that it’s important when pairing dessert wines and dessert that your dessert is LESS sweet than the drink. Therefore, I used bittersweet chocolate chunks (chopped from a bulk bar, but you could use packaged chips, too) and not even a half-cup of sugar. If you like the idea of these cookies, but you aren’t into port (and therefore would be eating them on their own and would like them a bit sweeter), you could use milk chocolate and also add a few tablespoons more sugar.
The contest runs until November 15, and there’s a “People’s Choice” award, too—I hope you’ll take a moment to throw me a vote! (You have to vote via Facebook. I know not everyone likes to do that, so thank you if you’re willing!)
“Smoking Jacket Cookies”
(Dark Chocolate & Cream Cheese Chunk Smoked Tea Shortcake Cookies)
- 2 teaspoons lapsang souchong tea
- 2/3 cup heavy cream
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 7 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- 6 tablespoons cold butter, cubed in small pieces
- 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped into small chunks
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed in small chunks*
Steep tea in cream for about 10 to 12 minutes. Strain the tea leaves out and set cream aside. Preheat oven to 375°.
Combine flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a bowl and whisk together. Mix butter in with your hands—crush and rub together in your hands until the mixture resembles damp sand. Add cream and stir together until batter is just moistened. Gently fold in chocolate and cream cheese chunks.
Dough will be very loose and sandy. Form into 1¼-inch balls, compressing lightly, and space 1 inch apart on a parchment- or Silpat-covered baking sheet. Press down gently to flatten tops. Bake for about 25 minutes, until just barely golden. Cool on a wire rack. Serve with port.
Makes 30 cookies.
*It helps to freeze the cream cheese for about an hour.