Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Trouble with Tea

Over spring break, I had to complete the small back order of cakes, and as receipes and pan sizes worked themselves out, I found I had enough leftover batter from a 8" chocolate cake to fill one of my 4" pans.  My first, immediate thought was to do a tea-cake.

In the chocolate sampler featured below in the Loco for Coco post, there's an Earl Gray Tea-flavored chocolate that I particularly love, and ever since I've been curious to experiment with tea in cakes.  Since the Earl Gray chocolate piece tasted so good, and there happened to be some in the cabinet, I immediately stirred two teabags' worth into the batter, and popped it in the oven.

The baking process was interesting, and a bit nail-biting--the cake puffed up into a highdome, cracked in the center, and oozed in a fascinating replication of a lava flow, which I can only attribute to a chemical reaction to the tea leaves in the baking process; the undoctored batter for the main cakes did lovely, smooth-and-gently-curved baking things.  However, after the quick addition of a foil-covered baking sheet under the pan to catch drips, the tea-cake ended up coming out well--and, as it turned out, I was able to use the cut-off dome as a taste-testing piece. 

Personally, I loved the flavor--mostly chocolate, with a hint of Earl Gray.  Unfortunately other, more experienced members of my immediate family pointed out that Earl Gray, in baked goods, bears a certain resemblance to less legal substances. 

So, the moral of the story?  Tastes great, but perhaps not the best choice to serve at parties.  I'm hoping to try some other teas--especially chai, chai and chocolate sound nice, don't they?  

Friday, March 2, 2012

Thinking of Spring

Just as it felt like Spring might finally arrive after such a mild winter, the cold and snow reached Connecticut!  The weather for the past few months has been such a tease--cold and rain one day, sunny skies and 50 degrees the next.  Not to be daunted by yesterday's snow flurries, I decided to try my hand at the fun Ice Cream Flower Pot dessert.

I can't claim any credit for this one; I first heard about it from a friend, and have seen some versions around the web (such as this excellent tutorial by Ree, http://thepioneerwoman.com/cooking/2010/03/a-blast-from-the-past/ ).  Still, I can say it's a great deal of fun, and works marvelously well as a surprise for dinner guests.



I ended up mixing and matching actual flower pots and handle-less teacups; until I started the project, I didn't realize just how many flowerpots of mine had drainage holes in the bottom, which did not seem particularly ice cream friendly.  On the other hand, I discovered that this is an excellent way to get rid of extra cake scrids: jigsaw them together at the bottom of the pot.  If it's chocolate cake, crumble it over the top for crumbs, too!

Thinking happy spring thoughts to everyone!