Tea Cooking Day! Santa’s Secret Divinity

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Ah, it felt good to be back in the kitchen, experimenting with recipes again…it’s been far too long! And everything turned out beautifully, which makes me incredibly happy. Christmas is coming up and I usually do a massive amount of baking around this time of year. This year I decided to limit myself, since no one really eats the massive amounts of cookies I make anyway. But since Drew (my partner in crime over at Cooking Simplicitea) had suggested a Christmas-themed Tea Cooking Day, I decided to use it as my Christmas-cooking day, limiting myself to two recipes and a batch of Chex Mix. Because, really, what’s Christmas without Chex mix?

I started with the divinity, since it takes 2 hours to set and because the butter for the cookies needed to re-set. In researching divinity to try and explain it to Drew, I discovered it’s primarily a Southern thing, especially pecan divinity. When done right, divinity is a little sugary cloud that dissolves on your tongue….yum. I have a great amount of love in my heart for this candy and because it can be so fussy, Mom only made it rarely, so it’s always a treat to have.

The humidity outside is going to affect this candy. If it’s raining out, or if it’s the middle of summer, this candy likely won’t set up. Last year, my wife would chuckle at me for checking the weather every morning, looking for a cold, clear day. This year, starting in mid-October, every time we had a crisp fall day, she’d declare, “Ooooh, it’s good divinity weather!” I have taught her well. A good rule of thumb I discovered online the other day was that if you press your chin to your chest and it sticks a bit, it’s too humid for divinity. A bit crazy, but it works!

If you’ve never made candy before, divinity can be a bit daunting, but it’s really just science. I’m using my mother’s recipe with a few tweaks and changes, but this is the divinity I grew up with. Traditionally, divinity is to be piped into logs, but the idea of trying to clean that sticky goo from a pastry bag haunts my nightmares. I just use two teaspoons to plop a bit down on to wax paper or aluminum foil and go from there. Traditionally, a pecan is pressed into the top of the candy before it sets, I tend to leave that out, but in a few of these, I added some crushed peppermint…yum. On to the recipe!

You’ll need:

A non-stick pot (trust me, when cleaning up, you’ll thank me for this)

A candy thermometer

1/2 c. light corn syrup

2 1/2 c. sugar

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 c extra strong tea of choice (I used Santa’s Secret, it was amazing.)

2 egg whites (save the yolks for Alpine Punch cookie press cookies!)

1 tsp peppermint (or vanilla or almond or whatever flavor of extract compliments the tea you’re using)

1 c chopped nuts (or, in my case, crushed peppermints!

Mix corn syrup, sugar, salt, and tea. Cook, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Then cook without stirring, to firm ball stage (248 degrees F) Beat egg whites until stiff. Pour half of the syrup over egg whites, beating constantly. Cook the rest of the syrup to thread stage (272 degrees F). Add slowly to other mixture, beat til it holds its shape and loses some of its glossiness. Add vanilla and nuts, drop onto wax paper or aluminum foil. Move quickly, as it starts to set pretty fast and then it’s not nearly as pretty. Still tastes good, though! The tea flavor really comes though but not overwhelmingly so. I want to make more, but this stuff is incredibly sweet.

Hope you enjoy this recipe, I know it’s one of my favorites. If you try it, let me know how it turns out! Stay tuned, my recipe for Alpine Punch cookie press cookies will hopefully be up sometime today or tomorrow!

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Hot Todd-Tea!

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Okay, okay, this is a bit of a lame post, but very relevant to my current interests. I’m desperately trying to fight¬† off a cold, and I usually make my hot toddies with whiskey, lemon, and honey. Well, this usually results in a very painful shot that does eventually soothe my throat, but it also makes me slightly nauseated and kinda drunk. Cutting it with tea helps cut down on that whiskey burn and makes it last longer and soothe more. Although I do wish I had thought to sweeten the tea a bit with sugar, as I usually take sugar in my tea. Next time! I made mine with Nepal Black from, you guessed it, DavidsTea. Any black or green tea will do, my next toddy¬† will be with Buttered Rum! I might also try one with their cold remedy teas like Bravissimo (a personal favorite) or Gail’s Cold Remedy. And then I’ll either be feeling better or passed out drunk >.<.

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Cherry Potion Upside-Down Cake

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Oh man, this turned out tasty. It was also a very good test of how much the tea flavor comes out when used in something like this, as I was unable to find maraschino cherries at my corner store. It was delicious! And fitting! The day after I made this, we saw “The Help”. Pineapple Upside-Down Cake was very popular in that era (1960s), and even gets a mention in the movie! So it felt very fitting that I made this cake the day before, and I even wore my polka-dot apron.

And it’s quick! If you make the butter ahead, it takes about 20 minutes to get this cake in the oven. And the butter…oh yes, I made tea butter. Well, tea margarine. A note: for all of my recipes, butter and margarine can be used interchangeably. We’re on a diet, we just can’t afford real butter! But if you were to make tea butter for something that needs solid butter (for creaming and such), you would want to use butter, not margarine, because the latter doesn’t resolidify so well.

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Zing Me eggrolls

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I have to admit, the tea I use for this recipe is no longer carried by DavidsTea. Sad. But any tea with ginger will work, Zing me is a mix of black tea, ginger, peach, and apricot. A good friend of mine believes Geisha Plum, a plum green tea would work as well, but I’ll leave that testing to him, I’m not a fan of greens. DavidsTea does make a ginger Pu-erh I might try when my tin of Zing Me runs out.

I babble. My mother has made eggrolls as a treat for as long as I can remember. They are a lot of work, but the payoff is so worth it. My wife loves eggrolls, but we just can’t stomach the idea of greasy, deep-fried, sodium-filled takeout. So I set out to make my own. It took a lot of trial and error, but here they are: my favorite eggroll recipe. The jumping off point is here. As always, t=teaspoon and T=Tablespoon

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Teapots! Christmas

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This post will be about the first teapot I put to any real use, the lovely Christmas one pictured above with my adorable penguin bells. Before my first Christmas here in Canada, my mother-in-law gave us a HomeSense gift card. It had become glaringly obvious to me that I did not have a proper teapot and as a fledgling Canadian, I was in dire need of one.

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