Keep Calm

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“Come, let us have some tea and continue to talk of happy things.”

-Chaim Potok

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“Tea is drunk to forget the din of the world.”

-Tien Yiheng

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“Strange, how a teapot can represent at the same time the comforts of solitude and the pleasures of company.”

-Author Unknown

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“Take some more tea,” the March Hare said to Alice, very earnestly.
“I’ve had nothing yet,” Alice replied in an offended tone, “so I can’t take more.”
“You mean you can’t take less,” said the Hatter: “it’s very easy to take more than nothing.”

-Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland

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There is always time for tea and room for cake.
Or, in this case, both.

Chocolate cakes infused with Earl Grey tea in two manners: dry tea leaves, and hot brewed tea.
The sweet, floral undertones, which have orange and verbena notes, as well as the astringent black tea leaves, contrast well with the deep and rich chocolate cake.
The Italian meringue buttercream is made with honey and golden syrup, resulting in a salty-sweet, silky delight that tastes like the top of a good piece of toast, minus the bread, which is the worst part anyway.

I might actually like cupcakes again.
This recipe only makes 6, which is perfect (I don’t need 24 cupcakes floating around my house, people…), and is a marriage of unexpected flavors which ended up working inexplicably well.

The best recipe for health and happiness:
good books, better tea, and, of course, delicious cupcakes.

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Teatime Cupcakes
makes 6
cake portion adapted from Sweetapolita
ingredients:
for the chocolate Earl Grey cakes:
48 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) flour
75 grams (1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons) sugar
3/8 teaspoon baking soda
3/8 teaspoon baking powder
3/8 teaspoon cornstarch
big pinch kosher salt
15 grams (2 tablespoons) cocoa powder
1 tablespoon loose Earl Grey leaves
40 mL (2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons) buttermilk
1 medium egg (if using a large egg, beat it well before adding it, and remove 2 teaspoons of beaten egg)
30 mL (2 tablespoons) hot Earl Grey tea
25 mL (1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons) vegetable oil
splash vanilla extract

for the honey golden syrup IMBC:
111 grams (1/3 cup) honey
111 grams (1/3 cup) golden syrup
scant 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 egg whites
230 grams (1 cup) butter, cut into small pieces and soft but cool

directions:
For the cakes, line 6 muffin tins with cupcake papers.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Whisk the flour, sugar, baking soda and powder, cornstarch salt, tea leaves, and cocoa powder together.
Into the dry ingredients, add the buttermilk, egg, hot tea, oil, and vanilla.
Whisk very well to combine. (It will be a very thin batter.)
Fill each cupcake well with 1/4 cup of batter.
Bake for 15-18 minutes, until domed and springy to the touch, and a tester comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely before frosting.

For the honey golden syrup IMBC:
Place the egg whites, along with a pinch of cream of tartar, in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Place the honey, golden syrup, and salt in a small sauce pot over medium heat.
Begin to whisk the eggs.
When the syrup reaches 230 degrees, the eggs should almost be at soft peaks.
When the syrup reaches 240 degrees, the egg whites should have soft peaks that are almost stiff.
Pour the syrup carefully, down into the bowl while the mixer is running.
Beat the meringue until it has cooled to body temperature, then beat in the butter one tablespoon at a time.
Beat until the buttercream has become very fluffy and light.
Frost cupcakes as desired.

P.S.

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Peppy Pip

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“That morning Pippi was busy making pepparkakor–a kind of Swedish cookie. She had made an enormous amount of dough and rolled it out on the kitchen floor.
Because, said Pippi to her little monkey, what earthly use is a baking board when one plans to make at least five hundred cookies?

-Astrid Lindgren

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I feel as if I’ve made five hundred cookies, y’all.
It’s more like 200 or so. (Good god.)

This beautifully written post describes how I feel.  Hilarious and insightful.

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This is the fourth part of our updated cookie platter.  Forget what the other parts were?  I’ve got you covered.

Part I: nutmeg, maple, and rye sugar cookies
Part II: Linzer cookies
Part III: chocolate and peppermint macarons
Part IV: pepparkakor!

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Pepparkakor are Swedish ginger cookies, kin to gingersnaps.
They’re traditional Christmas cookies, and are actually popular all over northern Europe.

They’re crispy, crunchy, and lightly spiced.
Made with sweet, sticky golden syrup, plenty of ginger and cloves, a touch of black pepper, and heaps of butter.

The ideal Christmas cookie!
Here, I’ve decorated them with lemony royal icing in a variety of patterns.
The traditional shapes for pepparkakor are pigs, hearts, and men and women (little gingerbread men!).
Unfortunately, of these I only had hearts.  (And two donkeys?!? Didn’t think that was quite appropriate…)

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These are perfect for fika.
A little treat to be served alongside tea or coffee.
Shared with friends and loved ones.
Lingered over.
Laughed over.
Enjoyed.

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Leave some for Santa; you’re sure to get extra pressies.

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Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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Classic Pepparkakor
adapted from Cottage in the Oaks
ingredients:
3/4 cup (6 ounces) butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger
pinch ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch ground coriander
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch allspice
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup (6 ounces) golden syrup
2 cups bread flour
1 cup all-purpose flour

directions:
Cream butter for 2 minutes to soften.
Add in the spices and sugar and cream for 3 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the egg and vanilla and cream for 2 more minutes.
Scrape the bowl and add the golden syrup.
Beat until well combined, about 1 minute.
Scrape the bowl and add the flours.
Mix on low speed until a dough forms.
Knead once or twice, then wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
Roll out dough to 1/4 inch thickness on a well-floured surface and cut shapes as desired.
Place on baking sheets and refrigerate for 15 more minutes.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 7-10 minutes, depending on desired level of crispness.
Let cool, then ice with lemon royal icing, recipe below.

Lemon Royal Icing
adapted from Bridget of Bake at 350
ingredients:
3 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons cold water
4 tablespoons meringue powder
1 teaspoon corn syrup
12 ounces (3/4 pound) powdered sugar

directions:
Place lemon juice, water, and meringue powder in the bowl of a stand mixer; whip on high until stiff peaks form.
Add the corn syrup and beat until incorporated.
Sift the powdered sugar over the meringue and beat until a uniform frosting forms.
Add water a teaspoon at a time to thin to desired piping/flooding consistency.

Skywire

“There must be a better way to get a pole across the Grand Canyon…”
Did you guys watch the Skywire special on Discovery a few weeks back?
The one where a man walked across the Grand Canyon with a giant pole on a tightrope without a harness wearing slippers?
I watched it with a bunch of friends.
It really was attention-capturing.  We watched for 45 minutes without realizing there hadn’t been commercials.
I had a bet with one of my friends that they would cut off camera if he fell.
 My friend insisted that they would show it at least once- his reasoning was that they replayed Kevin Ware’s horrific leg injury twice, so falling 1500 feet to one’s death would be aired.
I was just glad we never settled the bet.  Ick.
Anyhow, that’s a bit off topic.  I was just reminded of that special because of this ice cream.  
It’s called “Graham Canyon,” because it’s a copycat, as far as I can tell, for BYU Creamery’s flavor of the same name.
People describe Graham Canyon (no, I’ve never had it, but the descriptions sounded so good that I had to try and make my own) as caramel-y, with dark chocolate covered honeycomb candy and a graham swirl.
My version is a graham ice cream, with graham ganache mixed in (unfortunately it didn’t swirl the way I wanted it to, but the graham cracker flavor was already prominent), along with honeycomb candy, both robed in chocolate and plain.
The non-chocolate coated honeycomb melts into the ice cream, creating a toffee flavor that pairs really well with the graham.
 
That said, this ice cream is still an endeavor to make, with lots of components.
However, it’s similar to store bought ice creams in that it has a rich flavor and lots of mix-ins.
I’m becoming more and more interested in trying to make ice creams like Ben and Jerry’s- inventive and flavorful… Stay tuned!
 
P.S. I’m thoroughly enjoying myself at a super hippie local music festival, Grassroots, for the weekend.
It’s hot as… all get out.
It’s wonderful.
Happy groots weekend to all!
Stay cool!  Eat ice cream!

“Graham Canyon” Ice Cream
ingredients:
1 batch graham ice cream, recipe below
1 batch graham ganache, recipe below
1 batch honeycomb candy, divided, recipe below
1 cup melted dark chocolate, mixed with 1 teaspoon coconut oil
directions:
Churn the graham ice cream in your ice cream maker.
Meanwhile, break the honeycomb into small bits.
Take approximately 1/3 of the honeycomb- (choose the bite sized pieces rather than the crumbs) and stir it into the dark chocolate.
Fish the bits out of the chocolate with a fork and place on a plate- chill until chocolate is set.
Take approximately 1/4 of the original amount of honeycomb (this measure should be mostly crumbs and tiny pieces) and mix it into the ice cream while it churns.
Once the ice cream is done churning, swirl the graham ganache into it.
Stir in the chocolate covered honeycomb and freeze until solid.
Enjoy!

Graham Crackers
adapted from smitten kitchen
ingredients:
188 grams (1 1/4 cups plus 1 tablespoon) white whole wheat flour
88 grams (1/2 lightly packed cup) brown sugar
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
2 grams (3/8 teaspoon) kosher salt
50 grams (3 1/2 tablespoons) butter, cold and cut into pieces

57 grams (1/6 cup) honey
38 grams (2 1/2 tablespoons)milk
14 grams (1 tablespoon) vanilla extract
directions:
Place the flour, sugar, baking soda, and kosher salt in the bowl of a food processor.
Add the butter and pulse until mixture resembles coarse sand.
Add the honey, milk, and vanilla and pulse until a dough forms.
Turn out and wrap in plastic; refrigerate.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Roll out dough on a well floured surface to 1/8 inch thickness.
Cut desired shapes and bake on a parchment lined sheet for 15-18 minutes.
 
Graham Crust
adapted from momofuku milk bar
ingredients:
graham crackers, above, pulsed and turned into crumbs (190 grams, if you want to use store bought, which is approximately 1 1/2 cups of crumbs)
20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder 
25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
3 grams kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon)
55 grams (4 tablespoons) butter, browned
55 grams (1/4 cup) half and half
directions:
Pulse the graham cracker crumbs, the milk powder, sugar, and salt together. 
Add the butter and half and half and pulse until the mixture resembles damp sand.
 
Graham Ice Cream
adapted from momofuku milk bar
ingredients:
1 cup graham crust
380 grams (1 3/4 cups) half and half
1 teaspoon gelatin
35 grams (2 tablespoons) golden syrup
65 grams (1/3 cup) sugar 
40 grams (1/2 cup) milk powder
1 gram (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
directions:
Combine the half and half and graham crust and allow to steep for 20 minutes.
Strain out the graham crust with a fine mesh sieve; discard the mush.
Bloom the gelatin in 2 tablespoons of cold water.
Warm some of the graham milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve.
Add the gelatin/graham milk mixture back to the entire batch of graham milk, then add the rest of the ingredients. 
Blend with an immersion blender or a regular blender to combine.
 
Graham Ganache
inspired by Christina Tosi
ingredients:
the remainder of the graham crust from your graham ice cream 
half and half
directions:
Continue to pulse the graham crust, adding half and half a teaspoon at a time, until it turns into a very smooth, grit-free paste.  (Do not add too much half and half at any one time, it may turn the ganache liquid.)
The consistency should be thick and creamy and smooth, like a cooled chocolate ganache.
 
Honeycomb Candy
adapted from not so humble pie
200 grams sugar
10 grams honey
15 grams golden syrup
40 grams water
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
directions:
Line a baking pan with a silpat and spray with nonstick spray (do not use parchment; if you must, go bare with just nonstick spray).
Place the water in the bottom of a heavy, high-sided pot.
Add the sugar, honey, and golden syrup to the middle of the water, stir carefully to combine.
Heat over medium-high heat until it turns a very light golden color, or 300 degrees F, stirring constantly. (The color should be just barely turning; this took me 3 tries, 2 without a thermometer, so I just recommend going by temperature rather than looks.)
Moving quickly, stir in the baking soda with a whisk and pour the mixture onto your pan.
Allow to cool, then break into pieces.

Not Yo’ Momma’s

Everyone has an ideal chocolate chip cookie.
Either your momma or your nonna or whoever makes ’em just the way you like, and any other way simply will not do.  
Maybe you like them crispy and thin or fat and fluffy, as big as a frisbee or small like little jewels.  
Maybe you like them with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, chips, chunks, shards, or whatever.
Maybe you’re not a human and you don’t even like chocolate chip cookies. 
(Go back to your own planet!)
I’m not here to tell you I’ve a better cookie than your grandma.
No way am I straying into that territory; I’ll never measure up.
What I am here to tell you is that I have a very unorthodox and very delicious cookie recipe for you that happens to have chocolate chips and that you should make.
These cookies blur the lines between chocolate chip, spice, and sugar cookies.
They’re soft and fluffy, like sugar cookies.
They’re rolled in sugar, like spice.
They’ve got a rich, buttery flavor punctuated with gooey chocolate chips, like youknowwho.
 
Yet the whole, in this case, adds up to so much more than the parts.
Fresh out of the oven, these cookies smell like heaven.
They’re nutty from the browned butter, sweet and spicy from the cinnamon, and you can genuinely smell the chocolate as it roasts in the oven.
 
Fresh out of the oven, these cookies taste like heaven.
They’re crunchy on the outside, thanks to the pearl sugar, soft and pliable on the interior thanks to a severe underbaking, and they’re studded with still-melted chocolate chips.
 
I had two fresh and hot, thankyouverymuch.
The trick to getting the best cookies is the baking time.
In my experience, if you follow what cookbooks say, you’ll end up with rocks.
Or doorstops.
I always used to put the most delicious cookie dough in the oven and, 10-12 minutes or however long later, pull out cookies so crispy they could break your tooth.
Obviously, liberal milk was needed in those cases.
They still taste good, yes, but if you want to make irresistible cookies, you have to underbake them.
They should still be puffy when you pull them out of the oven.
Keep in mind that no matter how soft they are straight out of the oven, the next day they will be harder.  
That’s just the way life goes; there’s no easy way around it.
These cookies pack a punch.
A solid right hook, I’d say.
The cast of characters features a few of my all-time favorite ingredients ever in them.
Brown butter.
Mini chocolate chips.
Cinnamon.
Pearl sugar.
And now, golden syrup.  We’ve only just met and yet how I love you.  Oh how I do.
 
Moral of the story: I’m sure as heck not your momma, but I’ll make you some damn good cookies if you let me.
 
P.S. check out the real life situation in the picture right below.  Six cookie sheets stacked up nice and high and very unstably.  Welcome to my kitchen.
 
Not Yo’ Momma’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
makes 15 large cookies
ingredients:
8 tablespoons butter, softened
5 tablespoons butter, browned
1 very lightly packed cup of brown sugar
1 egg
1/4 cup golden syrup, like Lyle’s (can sub honey or molasses or agave, but flavor will change drastically and I can’t vouch for the texture.  Lyle’s is available in most supermarkets nowadays.)
big splash vanilla extract
2 pinches cinnamon
2 big, big pinches sea salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 scant cup mini chocolate chips
swedish pearl sugar, for rolling (you could also use turbinado sugar, or alternately use none… but that’s boring, isn’t it?)
directions:
Beat the first measure of butter on high speed until smooth.  
Add in the brown sugar and beat for 2 minutes, until the grit is starting to disappear and the mixture is becoming fluffy.  
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the egg.  
Beat for 1 minute on low until egg is incorporated.
Scrape the sides of the bowl and add in the golden syrup.
Beat on medium high for 4 minutes, until the mixture is extremely fluffy and shiny, and very pale.
Add in the vanilla, cinnamon, and salt and mix until combined.
Scrape the sides of the bowl.  
Add baking soda and part of flour (1/4 cup increments).
Mix on low to combine, while slowly adding flour.
Mix only until homogeneous.  Add in the chocolate chips, stirring only to combine.
Scoop into rounds using an ice cream scoop.  
Roll into even balls and roll in sugar.
Place on a baking sheet at least 1 1/2 inches apart from each other, then flatten slightly and evenly until they look like mini hockey pucks.
Chill well.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake cookies for 16-17 minutes, until the edges are golden brown but the interior still looks slightly puffy and pale (see photo below).
Enjoy one or two warm… You won’t regret it!

 
Brown on the edges, golden in the center.  Still kinda puffy and jiggly.