Fresh off of presenting pairing sessions at the Los Angeles International Tea Festival, which were enthusiastically received, I got to thinking that not only can one pair tea with chocolate, and tea with cheese (yes!); placing tea and chocolate in closer proximity – in a tea cup – makes for an inviting early fall beverage, particularly for those who like dairy in their cuppa. Tasting a range of single-estate teas from the Assam region in preparation for my pairing sessions, I came upon some which had an almost chocolaty essence which set my creative impulses afire. With a bit of a fall nip in the air, I’m inspired to propose the following.
First: Source some good, single-estate Assams, such as those from Doomni, Langharjan or Nahorhabi with hints of malt and cocoa, buying enough of the tea to use to brew and to infuse the heavy cream required to make the Tea Truffles recipe given below.
Next: Scour the chocolate bar aisles in your local specialty food store. Look for names such as Guittard, Valrhona – both larger scale producers – and then, look further for smaller bean-to-bar producers such as, Mast Brothers, Dandelion, Theo and Tcho. Check the labels for the percentage of total cocoa solids and cocoa butter content. I like to use chocolates which tend to be a bit more bitter – 60-70 percent range.
Finally: Buy some good heavy cream. Now make the Tea Truffles as follows.
Yield: 8 generous sized truffles
1 c. plus 4 T. heavy cream
2 T. good quality Assam (or other favorite) tea leaves
8 ounces high quality chocolate, cut into small pieces (roughly ½ inch)
Place the chocolate into a stainless steel or other heatproof bowl.
Bring the cup of cream to a boil (reserving the 4 T. of the cream). Add the tea leaves, stir and reduce the heat to simmer, cooking for another 2 minutes. Remove from the heat. Allow the mixture to stand for about 10 minutes. Now pour through a fine meshed sieve into a small bowl. Add the remaining 4 T. of heavy cream which approximately replaces what is absorbed by the tea leaves. Stir the mixture immediately to melt the chocolate completely – if it does not fully melt, place the bowl of a pot of hot water and stir until it does. Allow the mixture to cool and then scrape or pour out into a flat shallow bowl or pan. Refrigerate, covered, until firm, about an hour. Once the mixture is firm, spoon out tablespoonfuls of it onto a parchment- or foil-lined sheet pan. Chill again, covered. Now remove from the refrigerator and round the rough tablespoonfuls using the palms of your hands. Store the completed truffles in the refrigerator in a container with a tight fitting lid until ready to use.
Brew your favorite Assam (or choose from those listed above), using 3 grams per 6 ounces of good quality water, brought just to the boil. Infuse for about 3 minutes (taste as you go to arrive at the degree of extraction that you like). Place a truffle at the bottom of a nice china cup, set onto a saucer. Decant the brewed tea into the cup, stir gently, inhale deeply and enjoy!
image courtesy of Lauren Wemischner.