I must confess: I am not a flavored tea kind of guy. Other than the smoke which fortifies my occasional cup of Lapsang Souchong or real jasmine flowers used to enhance a beautiful cup of Chinese tea, I tend to stick to teas whose leaves are flavored only by the terroir, precision of those picking two leaves and a bud and the subtleties of their processing. One more confession: I brake for Earl Grey when it’s made using real bergamot, that citrus of Sicilian origin whose perfumed skin lends an ethereal and hard to describe essence to good black tea. Drinking it though is second only to inhaling the aroma of a fresh bergamot orange available in small supply for a limited time at my local farmers’ market. This season I bought up a crate of them and made jars of bergamot gelée, kind of a spoon sweet, not as thick as marmalade but with a wake-up-it’s-morning tart freshness with which I slather the toast of the day. Granted that since these fruits are not easy to find nationwide, I am offering an alternative, something to serve at the end of the day: a deep, dark chocolatey-y bit of heaven scented with the best Earl Grey tea you can find (avoid nature-equivalent synthetically flavored tea here please). Once you have found the tea that suits you, now all you need do is find the best, darkest and most fruity bittersweet chocolate bar at your grocery store (or via an artisanal chocolatier—many bean-to-bar purveyors sell online) and a jug of heavy cream. Simple to make and yet complex in flavor, here’s a not very sweet ganache turned into a not very sweet mousse that would end any dinner party or weeknight dinner with panache and perfume.
Note: This dessert is quick enough to make before you and your guests sit down to dinner. Once made, store in a cool spot (without refrigerating) to enjoy the richest, creamiest and fluffiest texture. Otherwise, make early in the day, refrigerate, and then remove from the chill to bring closer to room temperature before serving.
Makes 4 servings (or 2 if you have no self-restraint, and trust me, this stuff is addictive)
For the ganache base:
- 8 ounces of dark chocolate, chopped
- 1 ounce good quality loose leaf Earl Grey tea which uses black tea as its base
- 8 ounces of heavy cream
To fold in to the base:
- 8 ounces of heavy cream
Place the chopped chocolate into a heatproof bowl and set aside.
In a heavy saucepan, over medium heat, bring the tea and first quantity of heavy cream to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow the tea to infuse the cream for about 10 minutes, tasting every couple of minute to check the strength of the infusion. When you are satisfied that there is enough of the tea and bergamot flavor present in the liquid, pour the liquid through a fine-meshed sieve set over a stainless steel bowl. Now return the infused liquid to a clean sauce pan. Bring to a boil again. Once boiled, immediately pour the cream over the chocolate in the bowl. Stir until the chocolate is fully melted and the mixture is creamy and smooth. Allow to cool to room temperature. Do not chill.
Using an electric mixer outfitted with the whisk attachment, whip the second quantity of cream to soft peaks. Fold the cream into the ganache base above just until no white streaks of cream remain. Immediately spoon into glasses or ramekins. Serve with a crisp buttery cookie if you wish.