When you love to eat or drink something, you constantly look for ways to incorporate it into many different recipes. I have been a coffee drinker and a coffee lover for years, and although I miss it sometimes, I have found my new favourite thing to drink – tea. Earl Grey tea, to be precise. Earl Grey tea is a tea blend (traditionally, black tea with the bergamot oil as a flavouring) with a prominent citrus flavour.
While it is a fantastic tea all on its own, I find it to be a great addition to desserts. Now, we know that chocolate and citruses pair fantastically, so you know right away that this lovely blend of chocolate and Earl Grey is delicious. Adorning a light and fluffy vanilla cupcake, it is a great treat to have. With a cup of hot tea, of course.
For the vanilla cupcakes
150 grams plain flour
1 ½ teaspoon baking powder
1 medium egg, separated
100 grams butter, softened
100 grams sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste
120 ml whole milk
For the chocolate Earl Grey buttercream
120 grams butter, softened
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder, sifted
250 grams icing sugar, sifted
3 Earl Grey tea bags
3 tablespoons boiling water
To make the cupcakes, separate the yolk from the egg white and place the egg white in a medium-sized glass or metal bowl. Reserve the yolk, as you will need it later on. Sift together the flour with the baking powder and set that aside, too. Beat the egg white with an electric mixer on high, until soft peaks form. Set it aside. In another bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on high for about 2 minutes, until pale in colour and creamy. Add the sugar and continue beating on high for at least 3 more minutes, until well blended. Add the egg yolk, vanilla, and a tablespoon of the dry ingredients, and blend completely. Adding the flour just helps with the emulsification.
Add a third of the milk, and a third of the dry ingredients and blend lightly. Repeat until you use up all of the milk and flour. Make sure you do not overmix the batter at this point. Finally, gently fold in the whipped egg whites, making sure you do not overmix and deflate the batter. Divide the batter between 6 standard muffin cups (lined with paper liners), and bake in a preheated oven, at 180˚C (350˚F) for about 15-18 minutes. They are done when the toothpick inserted in the centre comes out clean. Make sure you check them for doneness around 15 minutes, so they don't dry out. Let them cool for about 5 minutes in the pan, then place them on a wire rack and let them cool completely.
While the cupcakes are cooling, make the frosting. Take three tea bags and place them in a saucepan, then pour over 4 tablespoons of boiling water and let it steep until it cools completely. Place the softened butter in a large bowl and beat it with an electric mixer on high for 2 minutes, until the butter becomes paler in colour and completely smooth and creamy. Add the sifted cocoa powder and blend for another minute. Next, add the sifted icing sugar in a few additions, blending well after each addition. Once you've added all of the sugar, blend for another minute, then add the cooled tea (a bit at a time), and blend it well. Decorate the cooled cupcakes to your liking and serve.