Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Black Tea Affogato with Cocoa Nib Brittle

I don't know how other food bloggers do it.  How do they keep posting week after week through moves, babies, book deals, the ups and downs of life?  I used to be like that, in fact I used to post almost twice a week.  We lived in sunny, warm Southern California when I started this blog.  Ingredients and inspiration were abundant.  I was part of a CSA that dropped a mountain of beautiful produce in my lap every week and a garden in my yard that allowed me to grow our favorites nearly year round.  I had two kiddos who were old enough to be in school at least a few days a week so I had time to fiddle around, try new recipes and ingredients.  It all seemed so easy.  I'm coming up on four years now and these days I'm lucky if I can get two posts a month cranked out. I can't remember how I used to manage it.  Was it just that I had more time?  More ideas or inspiration?  Am I (and this is the worst possibility) simply burned out?

I'm trying not to put too much pressure on myself.  2015 may just turn out to be a year of slim pickings here and I am trying to be okay with that.  Last year was a big, big year for me.  I kept on blogging through a surprise pregnancy, working on capturing my family's recipes in a little cook book of my own and recipe testing for an awesome cookbook that will be out later this year (I can't wait to share the results with you!).  So I suppose it's only natural that I need to take a step back this year.  That's not to say that I don't want to keep at it.  I have a half dozen ideas swimming around in my head pretty much all the time.  It's the steps of taking those ideas from the musings of my daily life to actual recipes and photos that I can share with you.  So I'm trying to make what does get onto this page the best of what makes it onto my plate.  My hope is that even if it's not abundant, what I do post is worth your time and mine.

Black Tea Affogato with Cocoa Nib Brittle
Serves one with enough brittle to share with 3 friends.
For the printable recipe, click here.

I love tea.  It's that simple.  It's my comfort and my morning drink.  So it stands to reason that I use it a lot in my cooking and baking too.  If you look through my archives you'll find at least half a dozen that incorporate tea in some way.  So when I saw a recipe using chai (a personal favorite) in place of the usual espresso in the Italian treat affogato (coffee poured over ice cream) I decided that I need to give it a shot.  I broke out my really good loose leaf assam tea, steeped it and gave it a shot.  But it needed a little something else.  A crunch and counter balance to the sweet ice cream and bitter tea.  I recalled an ice cream cake I once saw that included a cocoa nib brittle and remembered thinking that I really wanted to give it a try, so this is my version simplified.  Since the serving is small, use the best ingredients you can.  The creamiest and richest vanilla ice cream and your favorite strong black tea will turn this simple treat into something special.

For the tea:
1/4 cup hot water
1 bag black tea (assam, darjeeling, jasmine or English breakfast) or 1/2 tsp loose leaf tea

For the cocoa nib brittle:
3 tbs sugar
1/4 cup cocoa nibs

Premium vanilla ice cream

Steep the tea bag in the hot water until it cools to warm.  If using loose tea, use a tea infuser to contain the leaves.  You want a strong tea to counter balance the sweet ice cream so infuse as long as you can.  If it cools too much you can always reheat it to warm.  Don't reheat the tea too much, too hot and it will simply melt the ice cream right away.

While the tea is infusing, heat the sugar in a small dry pan over medium high heat.  It will melt and caramelize it in just a few minutes.  Watch carefully because the sugar can go from perfectly caramelized to burnt and bitter in a heartbeat.  If it needs a stir, do so gently and little as possible so that the caramel doesn't crystallize.  Once it gets to a beautiful golden color, remove the caramel from the heat and stir in the cocoa nibs.  If it cools too quickly you can put the pan over the heat for just a moment to soften the caramel.  Pour the brittle onto a parchment lined baking sheet to cool.  Once it cools, break into small pieces.  The brittle will keep in an airtight container for a few weeks.

Assemble the affogato by placing two or three small scoops of ice cream into a glass.  Pour the warm tea over the ice cream and top with a sprinkling with the brittle.  Enjoy immediately.

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