Tag Archives: tea

DARJEELING PANNA COTTA with CARDAMOM CARAMEL PEARS

Darjeeling panna cotta

Panna cotta is pretty quick and easy to make (bar setting time) and it’s always sure to impress. It can be such an elegant dessert.
Darjeeling has a much more complex flavour than your average cup of Rosie Lea and it works really well paired with rich buttery caramel and fruity pears. It’s also Mr Colonial Cravings’ favourite brew, seriously, he talks about it like it’s vintage wine. Is there a tea equivalent of a sommelier? If there is I think that may be his dream job.
These panna cottas will take you about 20 minutes to make and then you can just leave them in the fridge until you need them. You can either serve this in ramekins or glasses, or if you’re feeling brave set them in moulds and turn them out onto plates before serving.

Darjeeling panna cotta

Ingredients
serves 4
250ml double cream
250ml milk
2 tbsp darjeeling tea leaves
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp vanilla paste/1 pod
3 gelatin leaves
2 ripe but firm pears (red skinned ones look pretty)
25g butter
50g sugar
1/4 tsp ground cardamom

Combine the milk, cream and tea in a small saucepan and gently heat it but don’t allow it to boil. When the mixture is hot remove it from the heat let it steep for 15 minutes.
Put the gelatin leaves in a small dish of water and set aside to soften. Strain the cream mixture through a fine sieve and rinse the pan to remove any stray tea leaves. Return the infused cream to the pan, add the sugar and vanilla and heat it, but still don’t let it boil.
Remove the pan from the heat, squeeze the excess water from the gelatin and dissolve this in the hot cream mixture. Stir well and divide between your moulds, ramekins or glasses. Put the panna cotta in the fridge for several hours to set.
Wash and core the pears and thinly slice them. Melt the butter in a frying pan, add the pear slices and the cardamom. Gently fry them over a low heat until they start to feel tender, turning them occasionally. Sprinkle over the sugar and keep turning the pears until the sugar starts to caramelize and the pears become golden and coated. Let the pears cool a little before serving alongside the panna cotta.

Darjeeling panna cotta

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EARL GREY and LEMON LAYER CAKE

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

This month it has been Mr Colonial Cravings birthday! He’s really quite old now, so to soften the blow a little I decided to go all out and bake him a fancy cake that I knew he would love. He is an absolute tea addict so I was pretty sure that he would love a cake that was flavoured with tea of any kind. (For a birthday treat we actually went to the only tea plantation in the US. That man knows how to live it up, I tell you!)

He is also pretty particular about which kinds of tea should be served with milk and which should not so I played it safe and paired the Earl Grey in this with zingy lemon. I’ve said it before but Swiss meringue buttercream is SO superior to the usual ‘chuck all the ingredients in a bowl and beat it together’ type. It really is worth the extra effort when you’re baking for a special occasion. The results are so rich and creamy and I think that you get much better flavour from it than just an overwhelming sweetness. I think that it complements the delicate flavours of the tea perfectly.

If you want to make the Earl Grey influence a bit more subtle then just use one teabag, instead of two. It’s also worth bearing in mind that Swiss meringue buttercream does melt quite easily so you’ll need to keep the cake cool.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

Ingredients
serves 16(ish)

Sponge
1-2 Earl Grey tea bags, emptied out and the leaves ground up very finely
1 tbsp boiling water
120g butter, softened
350g sugar
350g flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
300ml milk
3 eggs

Lemon Swiss Meringue Buttercream
3 egg whites
150g sugar
200g butter (cut into small pieces)
juice and zest of 1 lemon

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

To make the sponge you need to pre-heat your oven to 190°c and grease and line three standard size cake tins (I think mine are about 8-9″).
Use a pestle and mortar to grind up the tea so that you have a fairly fine powder and use 1 tbsp of freshly boiled water to make it into a paste. Leave this to cool.
Sift together the flour and baking powder and combine this with the salt and sugar ensuring that they are well mixed. Beat this dry blend into the softened butter until you have something that looks a bit like damp sand.
In a separate jug, whisk together the eggs and milk before incorporating the Earl Grey tea paste. Add half of this to the dry mixture and beat it together well. Add the remaining liquid and beat again to combine it all and leave you a fairly runny batter. Divide this evenly between the three prepared cake tins, level off the surfaces and pop them in the oven, all on the same shelf if your oven is big enough.
Bake the sponges for around 20 minutes, so that they are risen and golden brown, and if you poke them with a skewer or cake tester it comes out clean. Carefully turn the sponges out onto a wire rack and leave them to cool.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

Start on the Swiss meringue buttercream by putting the egg whites in a spotlessly clean bowl over a pan on gently simmering water. Add the sugar and use a hand whisk to whip them continuously whilst they heat up. They should become quite foamy and when they are ready to come off the heat, they will feel hot to the touch and the sugar should be totally dissolved.
Take the bowl off the pan of water and use an electric whisk to whip the meringue until it is thick and glossy. If by this stage the base of the bowl has dropped to room temperature(ish) then you can start to whisk in the butter, a couple of pieces at a time. Continue to whip the buttercream until you have incorporated all of the butter and it is thick, smooth and creamy. Whisk in the lemon juice, a splash at a time to check the flavour. Keep the zest for decoration.

Assemble the cake by covering the tops of all three sponges with the butter cream and then stacking them carefully on top of each other, making sure that the best looking one is on the top. Transfer any remaining butter cream to a piping bag and pipe little rosettes around the edge of the top layer. Sprinkle on the lemon zest for a final touch.

Earl Grey and lemon layer cake

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MATCHA COCONUT CUPCAKES

matcha coconut cupcake

I was looking back through some of my older recipes recently and came across my yummy green tea and lemon Swiss roll, https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/01/17/green-tea-and-lemon-swiss-roll/. I’ve been seeing matcha used in a lot of recipes of late so I though I might have another bash at baking with it.
I’ll be honest, I only really chose to pair coconut with the matcha because I had half a can of coconut milk sitting in my fridge left over from the previous nights laksa. I’m really pleased that I did though because the creamy coconut goes so well with the sweet, slightly earthy taste of the fluffy matcha sponge cake. They’re so pretty too, the pure white frosting looks great against the almost avocado coloured sponge.

matcha coconut cupcake

Ingredients
Makes 12 fairy cake size cupcakes or probably about 8 big ones

Matcha sponge
40g butter
100g sugar
120g plain flour
1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 egg
120ml coconut milk
pinch of salt
1 tsp matcha powder

Coconut frosting
2 tbsp coconut cream (you can also use the thickened part that rises to the top of canned coconut milk)
70g softened butter
135g icing sugar

toasted coconut flakes to decorate

matcha coconut cupcake

Preheat the oven to 190°c and line a cupcake tin with wrappers.
Sift together the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl. Add the sugar, salt and butter and beat it all together until it looks like bread crumbs.
Use a tablespoon of the coconut milk to make the matcha powder into a paste and set this aside for a moment. Whisk together the remaining coconut milk and the egg in a separate jug and then incorporate the paste into this. Make sure that it is really well blended.
Gradually beat this into the dry ingredients using an electric mixer and then continue to beat for a further minute or two.

matcha coconut cupcake
Divide the cake batter evenly between the cupcake wrappers and bake the cupcakes for about 20 minutes.
Once they are well risen, cooked through and lightly browned you can leave them to cool on a wire rack.

To make the coconut frosting simply beat together all of the ingredients until you have a thick fluffy frosting. Pipe or spread this on top of the cupcakes before finishing them with a sprinkle of toasted coconut shavings.

matcha coconut cupcake

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MUMBAI MOONSHINE

The inspiration for this post comes partly from my sister-in-law, who makes a yummy cup of ‘proper’ chai and partly from a recent visit to Cafe Nola in nearby Frederick.

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Whilst sat in the cafe (drinking the prettiest cup of coffee ever, coincidently) I noticed that behind the bar they had quite an impressive array of infused spirits, including chai bourbon. I didn’t get to try any of it because it was only 10am (that’s too early for a drink even by my standards) so I don’t know how they serve it but this is my take on it…

Chai Bourbon
200ml bourbon
2 cardamom pods
1 clove
1 small cinnamon stick
1/8 tsp coriander seeds

few lumps of chopped crystallised ginger (optional)

To make the chai bourbon mix the bourbon and spices together in a sterlised jar and put it somewhere cool and dark. Leave it for 2-3 weeks, the longer that you leave it the more prominent the spices will become.

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Mumbai Moonshine
35ml chai bourbon
50-70ml (about 3-4 tbsp) cold black tea (brewed as strongly as you like)
2 tsp condensed milk
Ice

Shake the bourbon and tea together with the ice. Pour the condensed milk into a martini glass and then carefully strain over the bourbon/tea mix.
It looks very pretty layered in the glass but unless you’re a truly hardened drinker I would strongly recommend stirring the layers together before drinking.

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WELSH CAKES

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The first day of March is St David’s day. St David is the patron saint of Wales and whilst I consider myself to be Cornish I was actually born in Wales. The daffodils aren’t out here yet so I need to find something else to mark the day with. That’s a good enough excuse to make Welsh cakes for me!
My mum used to make these for us as an after-school treat, cooking them directly on the stove top of our Rayburn. Although the method and ingredients for the dough are similar to scones the end result is quite different. Soft on the inside, crunchy on the outside little griddlecakes, they are delicious warm with a little dab of butter or cold sprinkled with cinnamon sugar.

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I have also read about the tradition of giving ‘Newport lovelies’ whereby the men of Newport give their new wives Welsh cakes as a wedding gift. I think my friend Katy may need to have words with her husband about this as a suspect she may have missed out.
You don’t have to soak the fruit, it’s not traditional to, but it does plump it up a bit and the tea adds an extra depth of flavour. If you choose to do so then simply pour a few tablespoons of black tea over the fruit and leave it for a few hours to absorb. Drain off any excess liquid before using.

Ingredients
makes about 12

225g plain flour
75g sugar
1/2 tsp ground allspice
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground ginger
pinch of salt
100g butter
3 tbsp dried fruit (raisin/sultana/currants) soaked in tea
1 egg
splash of milk or buttermilk (I used the orange buttermilk from my homemade butter)

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Mix together all of the dry ingredients except the fruit. Cut the butter into small pieces and rub this into the dry ingredients to leave you with a mixture that resembles fine breadcrumbs.
Lightly beat the egg and use this to bring the dry mixture together to form a soft dough. If you need a little more moisture then incorporate the milk/buttermilk into the mix.

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Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to about 1cm thick. Use any shaped cutter you like, though round is traditional, to cut out the cakes. Cook these in a little butter on a heavy-based frying pan over a medium heat. They should take about 3 minutes on each side and be just cooked in the middle.
My homemade orange and cinnamon butter is really good on these by the way…

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https://colonialcravings.wordpress.com/2014/02/24/homemade-butter-in-two-flavours/

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GREEN TEA AND LEMON SWISS ROLL

A few years ago I was lucky enough to have the chance to visit Japan. It is very much a country of extremes. It’s possible to spend morning roaming around the old city of Nara visiting temples and hand feeding deer, hop on a bullet train and in the evening you can be wandering the back streets of Shinjuku reciting the script to blade runner.

Matcha roll

These extremes extend to their food culture too. Japanese cuisine is largely considered to be one of the worlds healthiest, balanced, lower in calories and elegantly portioned. The contrast to this comes in their love of western-style desserts.
There are ice cream parlours that serve sundaes so big that they are ‘garnished’ with whole brownies and crepes filled with tiramisu and wedges of cheesecake. Why have just one dessert when you can have two? They really do have a sweet tooth in Japan.

Matcha lemon roll
The flavours of this are very much influenced by Japan but generally matcha roll, as this is also called, is filled with red bean paste. I’m not a fan of this so I’ve used lemon curd, I always drink my green tea with lemon so why not mix the two flavours in a cake too…

Ingredients
serves 6-8

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Sponge
3 eggs
140g caster sugar
80g self raising flour
20g cornflour
1 tbsp matcha (finely ground green tea)
1 tsp milk
zest of 1 lemon (grated)

Filling
2 tbsp of lemon curd
200ml of double cream

Pre-heat the oven to 190°c and thoroughly grease a 23cm x 32cm baking tray. Line the base with parchment.
Crack the eggs and put the whites and yolks into two separate bowls.
Put half of the sugar with the yolks and whisk together until they are pale, yellow and fluffy. Sift in the flour and cornflour and whisk these in too. Once they are fully incorporated the mixture will be fairly dry but don’t panic too much.
Using a clean whisk, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks. Whisk in the remaining sugar so that you have a meringue type mixture. Mix a couple of tablespoons of this into the flour mix to loosen it. Carefully fold the rest of the egg whites into the mixture in two or three batches, using a large metal spoon, so that you don’t lose too much air. Mix through the lemon zest.

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Use a teaspoon to drop blobs of this mixture onto the prepared tray and then put this in the freezer for 5 minutes to firm up a little.
Mix the matcha with the milk to form a paste and then gently stir this through the remaining sponge batter, so that the mixture has a uniform green colour.
Remove the baking tray from the freezer and very carefully pour the batter onto it, covering but not disturbing the blobs that you have already put on it. Bake for about 20 minutes, until the sponge is just starting to brown and feels firm with a little spring to it.
Once cooked, remove the sponge from the oven and leave it in the tray to cool for a couple of minutes.
Cover a lightweight chopping board with cling film. Lay out a tea towel and cover this with cling film too. Place the cling film covered board over the tray and flip it over to turn out the sponge. Peel off the baking parchment, this should reveal a spotty surface. If the edges of the sponge have got a bit crispy then it’s a good idea to trim them off now, it’ll make it much easier to roll up.
Place the second piece of cling film and the tea towel over this. Hold the tea towel tightly and flip the board over again, leaving the spotty side of the sponge on the bottom. Get rid of the chopping board and the top piece of cling film. Score along one of the short edges of the sponge, about 1cm in and carefully start to roll up the sponge. Use the cling film to help you and be sure to roll this up along with the sponge, so that the surface of the sponge doesn’t actually touch itself at any point. Put the seam at the bottom, wrap the tea towel around the roll and leave it to cool completely.

Green tea and lemon Swiss roll

Whip the cream until it’s fairly stiff and thick.
If your lemon curd is very thick then it’s a good idea to thin it out a little by adding a teaspoon or so of lemon juice and warming it a little. It needs to be easy to spread.
Unroll the, now cooled, sponge and spread over the lemon curd, then the whipped cream. Don’t worry about spreading the cream right to the edges, it’ll only squash out when it’s rolled back up if you do.
Re-roll the sponge and place it, seam side down, on a serving plate.

Green tea and lemon Swiss roll

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EARL GREY ‘MAR-TEA-NI’

On her recent visit, over a Ginger Romance or two, my friend told me about a cocktail that she had tried which was made using gin infused with Earl Grey tea. Well this sounded like a wonderful idea and the perfect Colonial Cravings cocktail. What could be more British than tea and gin?

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I don’t actually know what went into her cocktail but I’ve kept mine pretty simple, basically making it the way that I would make a cup of Earl Grey tea, with lemon to compliment the bergamot and a little sugar to sweeten it.
I’m hoping that I’ll be able to persuade her to take me for one of the original cocktails when I go home for Christmas…

Ingredients
makes two

100ml gin (I used Bombay Sapphire)
1 tsp loose leaf Earl Grey tea
2 tbsp lemon juice
2 tbsp simple syrup

lemon zest/rind to garnish

Stir together the gin and tea leaves and allow to ‘brew’ for about two hours.
Pour the gin through a tea strainer and mix with the lemon juice, simple syrup and ice. Strain into two glasses and garnish with curls of lemon rind.

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