Friday, March 11, 2011

Vanilla Earl Grey Love: Cookies and Pudding

“There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be diminished by a nice cup of tea.” ~Bernard- Paul Heroux

I can't agree more! When I recently read a study about how black tea can actually help us recover from stress, I felt much better about my afternoon tea ritual.

It always includes a cup of my favourite tea- T's Vanilla Earl Grey and it sometimes includes a special treat.

Here are two recipes that highlight this delicious tea. The pudding is lovely for afternoon tea or as an after-dinner dessert. Serve whipped cream in a little creamer to add to the whimsy.

The shortbread cookies are wonderfully scented by the tea and seem to improve with age. I have given them as gifts, packed them into used tea containers with a little packet of looseleaf tea inside- the tea provides an extra whiff of beautiful bergamot and vanilla when the recipient opens it!

*The additional vanilla in these recipes is optional, as the tea does have a lovely vanilla flavour. If you do want to add it, make sure you use organic vanilla as the artificial vanillas are sure to add off-flavours to these recipes.

Vanilla Earl Grey Pudding
Makes 4 puddings
This recipe is based on an Earl Grey Pudding by Anna Olson. The main difference is that I use more vanilla earl grey looseleaf tea and omit the additional vanilla as it is wonderfully scented without it. If you really love vanilla, you can add it to the whipped cream too.

2 1/2 cups milk
2 tbsp looseleaf vanilla earl grey tea
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp cane sugar
4 tbsp cornstarch (my preference: organic or GMO free)
*optional: 1/2 tsp organic vanilla

1. Bring 2 cups milk and tea leaves to a low boil over medium heat. Be careful not to burn the milk. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Strain tea leaves out using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Pour milky tea back into clean pot and keep warm over medium heat.
2. Combine 1/2 cup milk and cornstarch together in a small bowl until dissolved. Add to warming milk tea and whisk constantly until slightly thickened, about 3 or 4 minutes.
3. Pour into custard cups or tea cups and refridgerate for at least an hour.

Vanilla Earl Grey Shortbread Cookies
Makes about 3 dozen
This recipe is based on a Martha Stewart Earl Grey shortbread cookie. I think mine is better. You can use a coffee grinder (wiped clean!) or try a blender to grind the tea. I usually double this recipe to share with friends. This cookie keeps for weeks and tastes even better with age!

1 cup unsalted butter (preferrably organic or cultured, European-style butter)
1/2 cup icing sugar
*optional: 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 cups unbleached flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp sea salt
2 tbsp finely ground vanilla earl grey tea leaves (start with approximately 3 tbsp tea leaves, process for about 5 seconds, or until there are no large tea leaves visible)
1/2 cup coarse sugar or turbinado sugar

1. Beat butter and sugar together until creamy and smooth. Add vanilla if desired.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt and ground tea leaves. Add to butter mixture and mix until the dough comes together.
3. Divide dough into 2 portions and place each portion on a large rectangle of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Roll into a log about 16 cm long, 4-5 cm in
diameter. (It should be about the length of a large soup spoon). Wrap well and place on cookie sheet and refridgerate for at least 1 hour.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place coarse sugar on large, flat plate or another flat pan. Unwrap log and place under running water for 3 seconds. Roll in sugar, pressing it into the log as you roll.
5. With a large sharp knife, cut log into 1 cm wide coins. Place on cookie sheet, each cookie about 5 cm apart from the others. Bake for approximately 12 minutes. (If you are baking 2 sheets at the same time, rotate your pans at 6 minutes). Let cool for 1 minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
6. When cool, place in jars with lids.

T's Vanilla Earl Grey also makes the best London Fog!

Have I sold you on Vanilla Earl Grey Tea yet?
You can buy it from my favourite tea company:
The beautiful mug?