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!

Recipe // Chocolate Tahini Banana Muffins

Part 2 of my journey to like tahini more!

Recently, I have been regularly going to an Indian/Middle Eastern supermarket a few blocks away from my apartment. It is a great, hole-in-the-wall, no-one-speaks-English little store that is jam-packed with ingredients I don’t recognize and a great frozen food section. They also sell tahini by the gallon.

The tahini from this store comes what looks like a large peanut butter jar, and has no label. It is runnier than the other tahini I have tried, so the taste is a little more diluted. I have yet to figure out what consistency tahini is actually supposed to be like.

These muffins turned out exactly how I wanted them to. A slight nuttiness from the tahini, but not overpowering in anyway. They are rich and chocolate-y, but not too sweet because it is banana-based.

I love quick breads because you can just throw everything together. This recipe started off as regular tahini banana muffins, but I felt like adding cocoa powder and I didn’t want to use my butter. The end result were these super-rich, not-too-sweet, nutty chocolate muffins!

Chocolate Tahini Banana Muffins

Adapted from Cooking Light

3 bananas
1/3 c Greek yogurt
1/3 c tahini, well-stirred
1/3 c oil
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 c brown sugar
1 c flour
1/2 c cocoa powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 c chocolate chips
sugar, for sprinkling (technically optional, but definitely not optional)*

  1. Preheat oven to 350F and generously spray muffin tin with cooking spray.
  2. Combine banana, yogurt, tahini, oil, vanilla extract, and eggs until combined
  3. Add sugars, beat until combined
  4. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, salt, mixing until a few streaks of flour remain. Gently fold in the chocolate.
  5. Pour batter into prepared muffin pans and sprinkle with sugar.
  6. Bake for 20 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

* Since I did this for restaurant downtown I staged for, I’ve started sprinkling sugar on all quick breads at home. It’s SO good – this is what makes the top crunchy and beautiful!