Black Tea Cupcakes With Honey Buttercream Frosting

black tea cupcakes

Dr. Eva Crane was a proper Englishwoman, and would have liked these tea-flavored delicacies! Perfect to accompany a “cuppa”!

Yield:  18 cupcakes

Ingredients

1 cup  milk

3 tablespoons black tea (or the contents of 3 tea bags)

1/4 cup butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 3/4 cups cake flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Prepare cupcake tins.

Warm the milk until near boiling on the stove or in the microwave. Cut open the tea bags and add the tea directly into the milk. Allow to cool.

In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vegetable oil and vanilla extract. Gradually add in the cake flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Stir in the tea brewed milk, mixing until batter is uniform and smooth.

Transfer batter to prepared pans and bake for 18-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and allow to cool before frosting.

Honey Buttercream

1/2 cup butter, room temperature

3 tablespoons honey

2 cups powdered sugar

Pinch of salt

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and honey until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and salt and continue mixing until the frosting comes together. If the frosting is too runny, add more powdered sugar until it reaches the right consistency. Likewise, if the frosting is too stiff, add more honey (or a splash of milk) to thin it out. If the frosting is too sweet, add a pinch more salt until the desired sweetness is achieved.

Spread or pipe the honey buttercream onto the cooled cupcakes and serve.

Holidays With Honey – Peppermint Honey French Ice Cream

peppermint ice cream

Peppermint ice cream is my favorite holiday dessert. It’s easy to make and goes perfectly with all those cookies you are baking!

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups heavy cream

1 1/2 cups whole milk

8 large egg yolks

3/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons peppermint extract

1/2 cup crushed candy canes or hard peppermint candy

Directions

Note:  An ice cream maker is necessary for this recipe.

Warm the milk, honey, and salt in a medium saucepan. Make sure the honey and salt completely dissolve.

Pour the cream into a metal bowl set in a larger bowl of ice and set a medium-mesh sieve on top.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm milk into the egg yolks, whisking constantly, then scrape the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

Stir the mixture constantly over medium heat with a wooden or heatproof rubber spatula, scraping the bottom as you stir, until the mixture thickens and coats the spatula, about 5-7 minutes.

Pour the custard through the strainer and stir it into the cream. Then stir until cool over the ice bath. Chill mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator.

One the mixture is thoroughly chilled, add peppermint extract, a 1/4 teaspoon at a time, tasting the mixture after each addition, until you reach the desired level of peppermint flavor.

Once chilled, freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the ice cream has been formed in the ice cream maker, it will be fairly soft. Fold in the crushed peppermint candy. Put in an airtight plastic container and place in the freezer for at least an hour, preferably several hours. If it has been frozen for more than a day, you may need to let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes to soften it before serving.

Yield: Makes 1 1/2 quarts.

Potato, Leek And Honey Gratin

It is a mistake to think you can solve any major problems just with potatoes.
Douglas Adams

But with these potatoes, you definitely can solve a lot of the minor ones…  🙂

Ingredients:

Salt

3 pounds small potatoes (such as red or Yukon gold), sliced 1/8 inch thick

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, plus more for buttering dish

2  tablespoons honey

10 medium leeks, washed thoroughly, white and light-green parts only, halved lengthwise and cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces

4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup milk

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

Directions:

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. In a large pot of salted boiling water, parboil potatoes for 5 minutes. Drain potatoes well and set aside.

In a large skillet, heat butter over medium heat. Sauté leeks and garlic until leeks are tender, about 7 minutes. Set aside.

In a buttered gratin dish, round souffle dish, or lasagna pan arrange half of reserved potatoes in an overlapping pattern. Pour 1 cup cream and 1/2 cup milk over top and sprinkle with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 tablespoon honey. Top with reserved leeks and arrange remaining potatoes. Pour remaining cream and milk over potatoes and sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon salt and remaining honey.

Bake until potatoes are tender, top of gratin is golden brown, and most of cream and milk have been absorbed, about 45 minutes. Garnish with parsley.

Yields: 12 servings

Honey Butternut Squash Cupcakes With White Chocolate Frosting

These cupcakes may very well be the best you will ever taste! There’s no need to tell your guests that they are made with butternut squash…

Cupcakes

1 cup of uncooked butternut squash (that’s about half of a medium-size squash), peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 tsp. vegetable oil
6 tablespoons (3oz) unsalted butter
1 cup (4 1/2 oz) all-purpose flour
3/4 tsp. baking Soda
3/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 cup honey
1/3 cup tightly packed, dark brown sugar
1 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons half & half cream (or whole milk)

Directions

Prepare the squash: Place the butternut squash pieces into a large, microwave-safe bowl. Heat on high for 5-6 minutes, occasionally stopping to stir, until the squash is cooked (a fork should be able to easily go through a piece). Place the now-soft pieces of squash into a food processor or blender. Add 1 tsp. of oil. Pulse/puree until smooth. [Note: If you have a small food processor or blender, just puree half at a time.]

Measure out 3/4 cup of purée. (You may have some left-over that can be covered and refrigerated for another use.) Set aside the measured out 3/4 cup, and allow it to cool to room temp.

Prepare the cupcakes: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with cupcake liners.

Melt the butter in a medium-size heavy bottom saucepan, over low heat until just melted. Turn the heat up to medium-high, and cook, swirling occasionally, until the butter turns golden brown and develops a nutty fragrance. Keep a close eye on the butter, it can turn from brown to black in a matter of seconds. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the butter to cool for about 15 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking Soda, cinnamon, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large bowl, combine the butternut squash purée (3/4 cup), honey, brown sugar, egg, and cream. Whisk vigorously until well blended. Add all of the flour mixture and, using a large rubber spatula, gently stir in the dry ingredients until just combined. Try not to over mix.

Add the brown butter and gently whisk until smooth and well combined.

Divide the batter evenly among the 12 cupcake liners.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the top of a cupcake springs back when touched lightly.

Remove from the oven and allow the cupcakes to sit in the pan for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack.

Cool completely before frosting.

White Chocolate Frosting

6 ounces of high quality white chocolate
8 tablespoons (that’s 1 stick) of unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/4 tsp. salt
1 3/4 cups of confectioners’ sugar
1/4 cup milk
1/4 tsp. pure almond extract

Directions

Make a double-boiler: Place about 1/2-inch of water into a saucepan and bring it to a simmer. Place the white chocolate into a large, heat proof bowl and place the bowl on top of the saucepan (be sure that it’s large enough to fit over the pan of simmering water without the bottom actually touching the water). Stirring occasionally, melt the chocolate until smooth. Remove the bowl off the saucepan and set it aside to cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile: In the bowl of your stand mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (a hand-held will work too), beat the butter and salt until light and fluffy (about 3-5 minutes on medium speed).

Gradually sift in the confectioners’ sugar, beating on low speed after each addition. [Note: I added the sugar in 1/2 cup increments.]

Once all the sugar has been added, beat in the milk and almond extract until well combined.

Add the cooled, melted white chocolate and beat on low until combined. If the frosting looks too thin, add about 1/4 cup of confectioners’ sugar. If it’s too thick, add a splash of milk.

If the white chocolate was still on the warm side when it was added to the bowl, simply refrigerate the frosting until it reaches a spreadable consistency…if you plan on piping it, this may take longer.

Frost the cooled cupcakes as desired. Garnish with walnuts, or cinnamon, or shaved chocolate.

yields 12 cupcakes

Honey Pumpkin Creme Brulee

I love creme brulee, and honey and pumpkin just make it better!  What better way to celebrate the arrival of Fall!!

makes 6 servings

1 cup cream
1 cup whole milk or half/half
1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla
Zest of 1/2 lemon
3 whole eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons ground coriander
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
Fine white sugar

Heat the oven to 325º F. Prepare a baking pan, filling it halfway up with hot water. Set 6 ramekins or baking cups in the pan.

Whisk cream, milk, pumpkin, sugar, honey, vanilla and zest together in a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk the eggs with the spices and salt in a separate bowl. Add a little of the warmed cream to the eggs and whisk together, then add it all back into the pan. Heat over medium-low, stirring constantly, until the custard reaches coats the back of a spoon. Do not let it boil or it will curdle the eggs.

Strain through a fine sieve into a bowl and pour into the ramekins. Carefully set the pan in the oven. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. They will still be a little jiggly when you pull them out. As long as they are firm to the touch and don’t have liquid sloshing out of the cups, they are done. They will firm up as they chill. Let cool then put in the fridge for a few hours or overnight.

When ready to serve, sprinkle a thin layer of fine white sugar on top of each ramekin, spread as evenly as you can, then brown with a kitchen torch.

British Week – Sorry, George, The Milk Goes In First

Thanks to Katiepede for this!!

How to make a perfect cuppa: put milk in first

Maev Kennedy, arts and heritage correspondent
The Guardian, Wednesday 25 June 2003 03.34 EDT

Half the population of Britain will take this as a declaration of war.

After months of research the Royal Society of Chemistry has announced the answer to a question that for generations has shattered households, sundered friendships, splintered relationships: the milk should go in first.

It is all to do with denaturing milk proteins, according to Dr Andrew Stapley, a chemical engineer from Loughborough University.There are other contentious points at issue: microwaves come into the perfect cup of tea, and the recommendation that the tea itself should be loose Assam will certainly be taken as blatant provocation by the Darjeeling and Lapsang Souchong factions.

Above all, the society could be seen as spitting on the grave of George Orwell, having commissioned the research to celebrate today’s centenary of his birth – and concluded that he was quite wrong in his own recipe, published as A Nice Cup of Tea in the Evening Standard in 1946.

The chemists and the author of Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty Four are in agreement on Indian tea, and a china or earthenware teapot. There is a minor divergence over warming the pot: Orwell recommended placing the pot on a hob, Dr Stapley defends a microwave as a 21st century equivalent. But on the issue of milk the gap is unbridgeable.

Orwell wrote: “By putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk, wheras one is likely to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.”

Dr Stapley is adamant. “If milk is poured into hot tea, individual drops separate from the bulk of the milk, and come into contact with the high temperatures of the tea for enough time for significant denaturation – degradation – to occur. This is much less likely to happen if hot water is added to the milk.”

Veteran tea drinker Tony Benn test-drove the perfect cup of tea yesterday, at the London headquarters of the society. He calculates that he has got through 27,375 gallons in 60 years, and is a tea first, milk second man. The milk went in first. The tea was poured in. He sniffed. He sipped. He pondered. “It’s very tasty, I must say,” he said. He sipped again. “Oh, it’s delicious.”

The chemists purred – and then last night the physicists waded in and said all that matters is the water temperature, not the milk. “Trust chemists to make things complicated,” Institute of Physics chief executive Dr Julia King said. “When it boils down to it, the physics is more important than the chemical side of things.”

· Chemists’ recipe

The Royal Society of Chemistry’s definitive recipe for the perfect cup of tea

Ingredients: Loose leaf Assam tea, soft water, fresh chilled milk, white sugar.

Implements: Kettle, ceramic teapot, large ceramic mug, fine mesh tea strainer, tea spoon, microwave oven.

Method: Draw fresh soft water and place in the kettle and boil. While waiting for the water to boil place a tea ot containing a quarter of a cup of water in a microwave oven on full power for one minute.

Place one rounded teaspoon of tea per cup into pot.

Take the pot to the kettle as it is boiling, pour on to the leaves and stir.

Leave to brew for three minutes.

The ideal receptacle is a ceramic mug.

Pour milk into the cup first followed by the tea, aiming to achieve a colour that is rich and attractive.

Add sugar to taste.

Drink at 60-65C, to avoid vulgar slurping which results from trying to drink tea at too high a temperature.

To gain optimum ambience for enjoyment of tea aim to achieve a seated drinking position in a favoured home spot where quietness and calm will elevate the moment.

British Week – A Nice Cup Of Tea

A Nice Cup of Tea

By George Orwell

Evening Standard, 12 January 1946.


If you look up ‘tea’ in the first cookery book that comes to hand you will probably find that it is unmentioned; or at most you will find a few lines of sketchy instructions which give no ruling on several of the most important points.

This is curious, not only because tea is one of the main stays of civilization in this country, as well as in Eire, Australia and New Zealand, but because the best manner of making it is the subject of violent disputes.

When I look through my own recipe for the perfect cup of tea, I find no fewer than eleven outstanding points. On perhaps two of them there would be pretty general agreement, but at least four others are acutely controversial. Here are my own eleven rules, every one of which I regard as golden:

  • First of all, one should use Indian or Ceylonese tea. China tea has virtues which are not to be despised nowadays — it is economical, and one can drink it without milk — but there is not much stimulation in it. One does not feel wiser, braver or more optimistic after drinking it. Anyone who has used that comforting phrase ‘a nice cup of tea’ invariably means Indian tea.
  • Secondly, tea should be made in small quantities — that is, in a teapot. Tea out of an urn is always tasteless, while army tea, made in a cauldron, tastes of grease and whitewash. The teapot should be made of china or earthenware. Silver or Britanniaware teapots produce inferior tea and enamel pots are worse; though curiously enough a pewter teapot (a rarity nowadays) is not so bad.
  • Thirdly, the pot should be warmed beforehand. This is better done by placing it on the hob than by the usual method of swilling it out with hot water.
  • Fourthly, the tea should be strong. For a pot holding a quart, if you are going to fill it nearly to the brim, six heaped teaspoons would be about right. In a time of rationing, this is not an idea that can be realized on every day of the week, but I maintain that one strong cup of tea is better than twenty weak ones. All true tea lovers not only like their tea strong, but like it a little stronger with each year that passes — a fact which is recognized in the extra ration issued to old-age pensioners.
  • Fifthly, the tea should be put straight into the pot. No strainers, muslin bags or other devices to imprison the tea. In some countries teapots are fitted with little dangling baskets under the spout to catch the stray leaves, which are supposed to be harmful. Actually one can swallow tea-leaves in considerable quantities without ill effect, and if the tea is not loose in the pot it never infuses properly.
  • Sixthly, one should take the teapot to the kettle and not the other way about. The water should be actually boiling at the moment of impact, which means that one should keep it on the flame while one pours. Some people add that one should only use water that has been freshly brought to the boil, but I have never noticed that it makes any difference.
  • Seventhly, after making the tea, one should stir it, or better, give the pot a good shake, afterwards allowing the leaves to settle.
  • Eighthly, one should drink out of a good breakfast cup — that is, the cylindrical type of cup, not the flat, shallow type. The breakfast cup holds more, and with the other kind one’s tea is always half cold before one has well started on it.
  • Ninthly, one should pour the cream off the milk before using it for tea. Milk that is too creamy always gives tea a sickly taste.
  • Tenthly, one should pour tea into the cup first. This is one of the most controversial points of all; indeed in every family in Britain there are probably two schools of thought on the subject. The milk-first school can bring forward some fairly strong arguments, but I maintain that my own argument is unanswerable. This is that, by putting the tea in first and stirring as one pours, one can exactly regulate the amount of milk whereas one is liable to put in too much milk if one does it the other way round.
  • Lastly, tea — unless one is drinking it in the Russian style — should be drunk without sugar. I know very well that I am in a minority here. But still, how can you call yourself a true tealover if you destroy the flavour of your tea by putting sugar in it? It would be equally reasonable to put in pepper or salt. Tea is meant to be bitter, just as beer is meant to be bitter. If you sweeten it, you are no longer tasting the tea, you are merely tasting the sugar; you could make a very similar drink by dissolving sugar in plain hot water.Some people would answer that they don’t like tea in itself, that they only drink it in order to be warmed and stimulated, and they need sugar to take the taste away. To those misguided people I would say: Try drinking tea without sugar for, say, a fortnight and it is very unlikely that you will ever want to ruin your tea by sweetening it again.

These are not the only controversial points to arise in connexion with tea drinking, but they are sufficient to show how subtilized the whole business has become. There is also the mysterious social etiquette surrounding the teapot (why is it considered vulgar to drink out of your saucer, for instance?) and much might be written about the subsidiary uses of tealeaves, such as telling fortunes, predicting the arrival of visitors, feeding rabbits, healing burns and sweeping the carpet. It is worth paying attention to such details as warming the pot and using water that is really boiling, so as to make quite sure of wringing out of one’s ration the twenty good, strong cups of that two ounces, properly handled, ought to represent.

(taken from The Collected Essays, Journalism and Letters of George Orwell, Volume 3, 1943-45, Penguin ISBN, 0-14-00-3153-7)

Honey Spice Bread

Honey Spice Bread Recipe

This is great for breakfast, or even dessert! 

2/3 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup 2% milk
2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 eggs
1/2 cup honey
1/3 cup canola oil

GLAZE:
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons 2% milk

Directions

In a small saucepan over low heat, cook and stir brown sugar and milk for 5 minutes or until sugar is dissolved. Remove from the heat. In a large bowl, combine dry ingredients.
In another bowl, combine the eggs, honey, oil and brown sugar mixture. Stir into dry ingredients just until moistened. Pour into a greased 8-in. x 4-in. loaf pan.
Bake at 350° for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean (cover with foil if top browns too quickly).
Cool for 10 minutes before removing from pan to a wire rack to cool completely. Combine glaze ingredients until smooth; drizzle over bread. Yield: 1 loaf (12 slices).

Italian Week – Honey Lavender Gelato

This recipe is for my friends Emma and Emily, British beekeepers extraordinaire!!

Lavender is the name of their Queen bee!

Ingredients:

2 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup clover (or other light) liquid honey
2 teaspoons food-quality dried lavender
2 egg yolks
4-6 trays of ice

Directions:

Heat the cream and milk in a heavy saucepan. Stir often and turn off before it boils. Add lavender. Stir. Cover and set aside for 30 minutes. Set out eggs to bring to room temperature.

Strain the milk mixture through a fine mesh strainer. Prepare an ice bath by filling a large bowl with ice and water. Set a smaller bowl inside.

Clean the pot and add the milk, honey and sugar. Heat gently, stirring the whole time until the sugar melts. Separate eggs and beat yolks with a fork or whisk until smooth. Temper the yolks by adding 1/2 cup of the hot milk to them while whisking. Slowly add the yolks to the milk mixture while stirring. Cook over low to medium heat, stirring with a wooden spoon the entire time, until it thickens and coats the back of the spoon. Make sure it does not boil or the eggs will scramble.

As soon as it reaches the point when it thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon strain immediately into the bowl in the ice bath. Stir fora couple minutes to let some of the heat escape then cool in ice bath, stirring occasionally, for 30 minutes or until chilled. Add ice to outer bowl as necessary.

Churn in an ice cream maker until thick. Transfer to 2 separate air tight containers and freeze until firm. This usually takes 24 hours.
Gelato

Honey Ice Cream

I love French ice cream, and this recipe tastes like the real thing!   It’s amazingly easy too.

Ingredients

2 vanilla beans
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup honey

Directions

Flatten the vanilla beans and cut them in half lengthwise. With a small spoon, scrape out the seeds.

Place the seeds and pods in a large saucepan. Add the cream, milk, and honey. Stir to dissolve the honey.

Heat over moderate heat, stirring from time to time, just until tiny bubbles form around the edges of the pan, 3 to 4 minutes.

Remove from the heat and let steep, covered, for 1 hour.

Cover and refrigerate until thoroughly chilled (this is essential!)

Remove the vanilla pods, and stir the mixture again to blend. Transfer to an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacturer’s instructions.