Recipe // Earl Grey Tea Cake with Hot Chocolate Fudge

Coming back from China, I had ambitions to use tea in baking all the time. After my stint with Pu’er Tea Muffins, I felt like I had just unlocked a whole new flavor. I also thought that I was suddenly a tea drinker and refilled my personal teapot maybe 3x a day.

Since junior year started, I have had coffee more regularly than I ever had in my life, and did not touch any of the Pu’er I brought back.

I wanted a more ambitious baking project this weekend, so I decided to bake a layer cake infused with earl grey tea, courtesy of my roommate’s semester abroad in London. Don’t be put off by the number of components or steps! It is very manageable and logical. Oh, and the end result is 100000x worth the effort.

I took the cake recipe from Liv for Cake, where Liv includes an earl grey syrup is optional. I am telling you that the syrup is absolutely not optional; the cake is already delicious, but this elevates it to a new level. It give it a delicate sugar crunch, infuses the entire cake with moisture, and increases the earl grey tea flavor.

The filling of this cake was perhaps the best example of how I bake. I didn’t think I had enough cream cheese frosting to cover the cake and I wanted to add a flavor other than earl grey, so I decided wanted to make a fudge filling. We had just ran out of sugar and I didn’t want to buy or use up any chocolate (chocolate is expensive!!), so I decided to use some Swiss Miss instant hot chocolate packets I found.

It turns out that butter, Swiss Miss, and cornstarch turns into a pretty good, not-too-sweet, fudge-ish spread.

I am not sure I would recommend it over actual chocolate fudge, but if you ever find yourself in a bind, go for it!

Cake inspired by livforcake; all else is my own

Earl Grey Tea Cake
1 1/2 c milk
3 earl grey tea ba
2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tbsp loose-leaf earl grey tea
1 tsp salt
3/4 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 c granulated sugar
3 eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
1 cup earl grey milk room temperature

Earl Grey Syrup
1/2 c granulated sugar
1/2 c water
1 tbsp loose-leaf earl grey tea

Earl Grey Cream Cheese Frosting
1/3 c milk
2 earl grey tea bags
8 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 cup salted butter, room temperature
1 c granulated sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract

Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Fudge Filling
1/2 cup butter, melted
4 individual packets Swiss Miss hot chocolate
1 tbsp corn starch
1 tsp instant coffee
pinch salt
1/3 cup hot water, or as needed

Earl Grey Milk

  1. Preheat oven to 350F. Grease and flour three 6″ cake rounds and line with parchment.
  2. Bring milk and tea to a boil in a small pot over med-high heat. Turn heat off and steep for 10mins. Strain and measure out 1 cup. Top up with milk if needed.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk flour, baking powder, tea, and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  4. Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on med-high until pale and fluffy (approx 3mins). Reduce speed and add eggs one at a time fully incorporating after each addition. Add vanilla.
  5. Alternate adding flour mixture and earl grey milk, beginning and ending with flour (3 additions of flour and 2 of milk). Fully incorporating after each addition.
  6. Bake for approx. 35mins or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out mostly clean.
  7. Place cakes on wire rack to cool for 10mins then turn out onto wire rack.
  8. While the cake is still warm, brush generously with Earl Grey Syrup.

Earl Grey Syrup

  1. Place sugar, water, and tea into a small pot. Bring to a boil and simmer 2 mins. Remove from heat, steep for 5 mins.

Earl Grey Cream Cheese Frosting

  1. Heat milk in microwave for 30 seconds, add tea bags and let steep
  2. Mix cream cheese and butter until fluffy, 3 minutes
  3. Add sugar, tea milk, and vanilla and mix until fully incorporated. Add more sugar or milk until you get a spreadable texture.

Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate Fudge Filling

  1. Whisk all ingredients together until thick and glossy. If it gets grainy, add 1/3 cup hot water.

Cake Assembly

  1. Make earl grey tea milk, earl grey tea cake, and syrup. Add the syrup on the cake while it is still warm.
  2. While cake is cooling, make the cream cheese frosting and fudge filling.
  3. When cake is completely cooled. add half of the fudge filling on top of the bottom, ugliest layer. Put the second-ugliest/least-flat layer on top. Add the second half of the fudge filling.
  4. Spread cream cheese frosting on top and around entire cake.
  5. Sprinkle loose-leaf earl grey tea leaves and brown sugar on top.

All parts of the cake can be made the night before.

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Exploring Philly // High Street on Market

It’s been officially Spring for a week now, and Philadelphia has gotten over a foot of snow.

I took these photos in the fall, when the warm weather was still lingering. Eating outside is one of the easily one of the simplest, best parts of summer.

Brunch food is not my favorite, but High Street is another restaurant that does a really good job. I tried the Hickory Town, which is composed of Lancaster bologna, Amish horseradish cheddar, gherkin mayo, and fried red onion on a soft poppyseed bun. High Street is famous for their bread, and did not disappoint.

Franklin’s Table, the new food hall that just opened on Penn’s campus, features fast-casual versions of favorite Philly restaurants including High Street’s “Provisions.” I am excited to see how High Street Provisions does on campus. It is pricier than your average food truck, but if you save the $4.50 of Septa tokens… it might be a good weekend alternative.

It is also exciting to see the opening of Provisions in light of Wharton grad and restauranteur Ellen Yin’s James Beard finalist nomination. Philly’s restaurant community is tight-knit and intimate, so I love seeing the city’s national recognition!

Guide to Mexico City

My two good friends and I just got back from a 10-day trip to Mexico City. I wanted to share some highlights!

Friday

After a long (but cheap!) overnight bus + subway + AirTrain journey, we flew from JFK early in the morning. After an uneventful flight, we arrived at our Airbnb by 3pm. Starving, we had our first tacos of the day in the historic district.

We walked from the historic district to Biblioteca Vasconcelos, an incredible library about 1.5 miles north.

After dinner, we stopped by Ideal Pasteleria, which had incredible, bite-sized, buttery cookies. You can actually smell this bakery from 2 blocks away!

Saturday

We left early in the morning for Queretaro, a beautiful historic city 3 hours away. We used Primera Plus ($30 roundtrip), which felt so deluxe; they even gave free snacks. We had lunch at Save, a great seafood terrace restaurant. The octopus tacos were life-changing, and I will never think about octopus the same way. Who knew that octopus and queso went well together?

Sunday

Queretaro was so full of color, it is difficult to pick my favorite photos.

Monday

Back to Mexico City! We had lunch Comedor de los Milagros, which was food court-style with food from all over Latin America. The highlight was the sweet potato and ceviche, and the chorizo tacos with Yukon fries.

At night, we watched Frida on Netflix in preparation for the Frida Kahlo museum the next day. Highly recommend!

Tuesday

We arrived at the Frida Kahlo museum by 9:45 for their 10am opening. We were a little nervous that we didn’t have tickets, but we arrived just in time before the line got too long. I’m so glad we watched the movie the night before; it helped give so much more context to her life and home!

We stopped by Tostadas Coyoacán for lunch, where we had incredible shrimp and octopus tostadas. Later, we found out this hole-in-the-wall was recommended by Bon Appétit (well-deserved!).

Wednesday

With rain in the weather forecast, we decided to play it safe and spend the day at indoor museums.

We had breakfast at Esperanza Bakery because it was walking distance from our first museum, and it turned out to be incredible. A huge range of pastries, each for 0.50 USD or less! Each one was delicious.

We started at Soumaya Museum, which has the largest collection of Rodin pieces outside of Paris. Owned by billionaire Carlos Slim, this museum was free and packed with art.

We had a gelato break in the bougie Palanco district, which felt like the Mexican Hollywood Hills.

Finally, just when the storm was about to arrive, we made it to the Anthropology Museum.

Thursday

 

We made our way to the Chapultepec Castle in the morning. We first stopped by our favorite Esperanza bakery, which we realized had a branch right next to the park.

We walked to Nómada Heladería for mind-blowing ice cream. My favorite was the orange lavender.

Next up was Museo Juguete Antiguo, or the Antique Toy Museum. The museum was a hoarder’s dream, stuffed with every single toy imaginable. It felt like Night at the Museum where all the dolls would come to life. We alternated between saying “This is so cool!” and “That is so creepy.” The true star of the museum was the rooftop terrace, which had an eclectic patchwork of murals by different artists.

We ended the day with dinner at El Parnita, where I had hands-down the best tacos of my life. I had a carnitas taco and fried shrimp taco, both of which were incredible.

 

 

Overall, it was a great trip full of tacos, color, and photographs.