When the weather starts to cool (low 50’s feels cool in southern California), my thoughts turn to the warming flavors of tea and chocolate – two products that share some terroir in common. ‘What grows together tends to go together’ is my abiding rule. How better to pair them than in a hauntingly rich cake that features generous amounts of each? My post-prandial suggestion here is a rich chocolate torte with inflections of tea flavor in and surrounding it (via a tea-based cream sauce that is served beside the cake). Need some descriptors to motivate you?
Convinced? Here’s how I do it.
Chocolate Assam Tea Torte
Yield: Approximately 58 ounces, twelve servings, each approximately 4 ounces
|2||60||Premium whole leaf Indian tea such as Assam|
|2||60||Unsweetened good quality cocoa powder|
|17||510||10||Large eggs, separated|
|.33||10||2 t.||Vanilla extract|
|3||90||All purpose flour|
|2||60||Malted milk powder|
- Prepare a rectangular baking pan measuring approximately 8 inches by 10 inches by 2 inches deep as follows: Spray with pan-release spray, line with parchment, and then spray again. Set aside. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a stainless steel bowl set over simmering water, melt the chocolate and butter, stirring until fully melted and smooth. Remove from the water bath and set aside. Brew the tea in the water, steeping for just 3 minutes. Pass through a fine-meshed sieve, discarding the tea leaves and reserving the liquid. Place the cocoa powder into a medium-sized bowl. Using a whisk, add the brewed tea slowly to the cocoa powder. Then blend the cocoa-tea mixture into the melted chocolate.
- Separate the eggs, placing the egg whites into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the yolks to the chocolate mixture.
- Whip the egg whites using the whisk attachment until foamy. With the machine running, add the sugar gradually, beating until stiff but not dry.
- Sift the flour and malted milk powder into a medium-sized bowl. Gently fold the beaten egg whites and the dry ingredients into the chocolate mixture. Do not deflate the batter. The batter should remain light and airy. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for approximately 30-40 minutes. The cake should remain somewhat soft and fudgy in the middle. Do not overbake. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
Yield: approximately 2 c.
|8||240||Dark chocolate cut into small pieces which melt easily|
|1||30||Good quality loose leaf tea such as Assam, or a blend of Indian black teas|
|4||120||Unsalted butter, cut into pieces|
- In a heavy saucepan, bring the cream to the boil. Add the tea and simmer the mixture until it turns a pale brown. Pour the mixture through a fine meshed sieve into a stainless steel bowl containing the chocolate. Discard the tea leaves.
- Add butter to the chocolate and cream mixture and stir until chocolate melts and the mixture is smooth and emulsified (you can use an immersion blender for a fine result.)
- Allow to cool by placing in a container with a tight-fitting lid and refrigerate until ready to use.
- Melt over a water bath to liquefy before using.
Tea-Infused Plating Sauce
Yield: approximately 5 ounces — twelve servings — each less than ½ ounce
|20||Assam tea leaves—decaffeinated works very well here|
|As needed||Heavy cream||To mellow the sauce|
- In a heavy medium-sized saucepan, heat the first quantity of cream to the boil. Add the tea leaves and sugar, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to infuse, covered, for approximately 2 minutes and sieve, pressing hard on the solids. The liquid should be a slightly golden brown color.
- Tip: Taste the mixture after a minute to monitor the progress of the infusion. The tea should come through clearly here but should not be aggressively tannic or bitter.
- Taste and add more cream as needed to dilute, to arrive at a well-balanced mellow tea and dairy flavor.
Place a square-, wedge-, or other-shaped piece of the torte onto a dessert place. Spoon the tea cream sauce onto the plate. Then pour the tea ganache over the cake (melt it first in a stainless steel bowl placed over a saucepan with an inch or so of simmering water). In the photo, a thin line and some dots of the ganache have been placed into the plating sauce for visual punch. Serve immediately.
Photo copyright to Lauren Wemischner and used with permission