This year I've been adapting and developing recipes to incorporate organic loose leaf tea sold by my friends at Arbor Teas. If you didn't already catch the postings in the Cooking with Tea segment of Arbor Teas' blog, I thought I might share two of my favorite (and often requested) recipes here. With families gathering and gift giving upon us, I'm hoping you might find a way to incorporate these elegant treats into your holiday celebrations. Sending a little holiday cheer from my kitchen to yours...
Adapted from Pure Dessert by Alice Medrich
- makes 40 (1-inch) caramels
2 TBS lapsang souchong black tea
1 cup heavy cream
½ cup Lyle’s golden syrup
1 cup sugar
rounded ¼ tsp fine sea salt
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1½ TBS unsalted butter, cut into chunks, softened
Smoked sea salt to garnish
Line the bottom and sides of an 8-inch loaf pan with parchment and butter the parchment.
Combine the cream and organic lapsang souchong black tea in a small saucepan and heat until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan. Turn off the heat and cover the pan to keep the cream hot. Allow the tea to steep while proceeding to the next step.
Combine the golden syrup, sugar, and salt in a heavy 3-quart saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring with a silicone spatula, until the mixture begins to simmer around the edges. Wash the sugar and syrup from the sides of the pan with a pastry brush dipped in water. Cover and cook for about 3 minutes. (Meanwhile, rinse the spatula or spoon before using it again later.) Uncover the pan and wash down the sides once more. Attach the candy thermometer to the pan, without letting it touch the bottom of the pan, and cook, uncovered (without stirring) until the mixture reaches 305°F.
When the sugar mixture reaches 305°F, turn off the heat and stir in the butter chunks. Place a fine mesh sieve over the pan (to catch tea leaves) and gradually pour in the hot cream, stirring slowly; it will bubble up and steam dramatically, so be careful. Turn the burner back on and adjust it so that the mixture boils energetically but not violently. Stir until any thickened syrup at the bottom of the pan is dissolved and the mixture is smooth. Continue to cook, stirring occasionally, to about 245°F. Then cook, stirring constantly, to 260°F for soft, chewy caramels or 265°F, for firmer, chewy caramels.
Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the vanilla extract. Pour the caramel into the lined pan. Let set for 4 to 5 hours, or overnight until firm. After an hour or so of cooling, sprinkle with garnish of sea salt and press crystals lightly into the caramel.
When completely set, lift the pan liner from the pan and peel off the parchment. Cut the caramels with a sharp knife. Wrap each caramel individually in wax paper.
Masala Chai Tea Scones
Makes about 16 scones
1¼ cups heavy cream, divided
6 TBS Masala Chai Black Tea
4 cups cake flour (sifted if clumpy)
½ cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 TBS baking powder
1 tsp salt
1½ sticks unsalted butter, cut into ½ -inch pieces and chilled
1 cup dried currants
1 large egg
Combine heavy cream and masala chai tea in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight or up to 24 hours.
When ready to make scones, preheat oven to 375°F.
Strain the cream to remove the tea, pressing with a wooden spoon to recover as much as possible.
Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl. Toss butter pieces into flour, blending with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. (A few pulses in a large capacity food processor will make short work of this.) Stir in dried currents.
In a separate bowl, mix together egg and 1 cup masala chai-infused cream, then gently fold this into flour mixture until the dough just comes together. (It will be quite delicate.) Turn dough out on a lightly floured surface, and with floured hands shape into a 1-inch thick rectangle. Use a knife to cut out small triangles of dough and arrange 2 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops of scones with remaining cream and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Bake scones until tops are golden, 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly before serving.