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Anyone who has been around me for any length of time has probably heard me expound upon my love of all things Earl Grey. The magical combination of bergamot and black tea is one of my favorite flavor pairings in the universe. I even have Earl Grey scented candles, for when I want my house to smell as though I just brewed a fresh cuppa, but I don't want to ingest the caffeine. In fact, I'm a pretty big fan of most tea flavored things; I adore the grassy notes of matcha and the roasted depth of hōjicha, when I want to unwind I always turn to chamomile, and there is pretty much always a hibiscus fruit tea of some kind chilling in my fridge
Waterloo Sparkling Waters. Since then, they've added a mango flavor to their existing line, making for 8 amazing options in all. I decided to make a black tea simple syrup (I boiled 2 bags of black tea in 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar for about 10 minutes), which I put into a squeeze bottle. Then I set up a little station with a bottle of chilled vodka, some ice, and a variety of the Waterloo flavors (I thought the mango, lemon, and coconut flavors worked especially well) so that everyone could make their own fruity tea spritzers!
Earl Greyer Vanilla (AKA the Downton Abbey Estate Blend). Since I am addicted to The Great British Baking Show, I had the idea of making some Earl Grey cream puffs with a craquelin top in honor of the newest season. As I plotted out exactly how to make the perfect Earl Grey pastry cream, I reached for a bottle of Nielsen-Massey Mexican Vanilla extract. I went with this particular vanilla because of it's warm baking spice notes, which I thought would really bring out the bergamot in the tea. And oh man... let me tell you how good this pastry cream was! I seriously had to stop myself from eating it all with a spoon before I could pipe it into the cream puffs! Mary, Paul, and Pru would all be proud of me.
So what do you think? Will you turn your next get together into an impromptu tea party? Let me know your favorite tea treats in the comments below!
Earl Grey Cream Puffs
2 cups whole milk
2/3 cup of sugar
1/4 cup loose leaf Earl Grey tea
1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons butter
1 tablespoon Nielsen-Massey Mexican Vanilla extract
1 cup heavy whipping cream
Craquelin Crumble Topping
5 tablespoons butter cut into small pices
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup of flour
1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Mexican Vanilla extract
1/4 cup of loose leaf Earl Grey tea, ground very fine
16 tablespoons butter
2 cups water
1 and 1/2 teaspoon salt
2 cups flour
6 large eggs
For the pastry cream: Add milk, half the sugar (1/3 cup), and Earl Grey Tea to a medium sauce pan and heat over medium low until milk is steaming and infused with the tea. While the milk steeps, add an egg, egg yolks, the rest of the sugar (1/3 cup), and cornstarch to a medium bowl and mix until well combined. Once the milk has steeped (about 10 minutes), strain out tea leaves with a fine mesh strainer. Very slowly, add warm milk to the egg mixture, whisking constantly to make sure the eggs don't scramble. Once all the milk has been incorporated into the eggs, add vanilla and transfer back into saucepan. Heat over medium until the mixture begins to thicken, then remove from the heat, add in butter, and whisk until fully incorporated. Let cool.
In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream until stiff. Carefully fold in the thickened milk and egg mixture until no more streaks of white remain. Use a hand mixer to fluffy up the cream, then refrigerate over night in an air tight container.
For the topping: Add sugar, flour, vanilla extract, and ground tea leaves to a medium bowl and mix. Add in butter and use your hands to mash it into the mixture. It should form into a loose, sandy-like texture. Spread the mixture as thinly as possibly onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, making sure to break up any large chunks. Refrigerate until ready to use.
For the choux puffs: Melt together butter, salt, and water in a medium sauce pan. Once the mixture is at a simmer, take off heat and add in the flour. Add pan back to the heat and mix vigorously with a spatula or wooden spoon until a homogeneous dough forms. Press the dough against the sides of the pan to make sure that all of the flour cooks evenly, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let the dough cool about 5 minutes. Begin adding eggs one at a time, mixing thoroughly between each one. Once all the eggs have been mixed into the dough, transfer to an air tight container and refrigerate over night.
Assembling the Cream Puffs: Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop and form the cooled choux dough into balls about 2 inches across. Dip the top of the balls into the crumble topping, then place them dough side down on the parchment paper. Bake for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 15 minutes, or until the puffs start to turn golden brown. Let the puffs cool to room temperature.
Load pastry cream into a piping bag with a medium round metal tip. Puncture the bottom of each puff with a knife, then pipe pastry cream into the center.
Makes about 3 dozen puffs.