Many moons ago, I chanced upon a magazine with a plated dessert with a Oolong cream, quince jelly, and gingerbread crumble. I was enchanted by the flavours and how a simple dessert can look so incredibly elegant. That plate was etched deeply in my memory.
After coming back from Sri Lanka, I was inspired to make a tea dessert. And this one resurfaced.
It is important for a plated dessert to look good and to have a good mix of textures and flavours. I think this one hits the spot.
I used a black tea from Darjeeling, India as that was the packet opened in my kitchen. The Darjeeling tea cream is really creamy, smooth, barely set; the quinoa crumble adds a lovely, nutty flavour and much needed crunchiness; the Packham pears were poached in white wine with orange peel and vanilla bean lent it a really nice texture and flavour; lastly the sea-salt meringue walnuts surprises with that kick of saltiness.
If I have to change anything, I’ll probably poach the pears in red wine instead to give it a nice burgundy colour which would serve as a contrast on the plate.
It makes a great do-ahead dessert as you can make all the components the day before and assemble it when you are ready to eat.
I always make more quinoa crumble than necessary so I can have it with my homemade greek yogurt. It makes for a lovely, though slightly decadent breakfast or a really delicious dessert after a heavy meal.
On this particular occasion, I added my leftover poached pears to my yogurt on top of the quinoa crumble. It was more than I could ask for on a such a warm weekend.
Recipe: Darjeeling tea cream, poached pears, quinoa crumble, salted meringue walnuts
Makes 5 individual servings (I use 5 inch diameter shallow dishes)
This is an easy dessert to put together for a dinner as all the components can be made ahead.
You can replaced the darjeeling tea leaves with any other black tea. It is advisable to use loose leaves rather than tea bags. If you are using tea bags, just make sure to taste the cream as you infuse it.
For the tea cream
250ml full cream milk
250ml double cream, at least 35% fat
2.5 sheets of gelatine leaves (Gold strength)
50g caster sugar
5 g darjeeling tea/oolong tea, loose leaves
For the poached pears
3 Packham pears
300ml sweet white wine, like a dessert wine or Riesling
1/2 vanilla bean, scrapped seeds
zest of half a orange,
For the quinoa crumble
75g quinoa seeds
100g plain flour
40g brown sugar
pinch of salt
140g unsalted butter, cubed
For the salted meringue walnuts
30g egg white
1 tsp caster sugar
1//2 tsp sea salt
- For the tea cream: Warm the milk and cream until 90 degrees celcius (about 5 mins), over medium heat. Do not boil. Take pan away from the heat and add in the tea leaves. Allow to infuse for 15 minutes. In the meantime, softened gelatine leaves in cold water for about 5 minutes.
- Return the pan to the heat and gently warm cream mixture over low heat for about 3 mins. Squeeze excess water from the gelatine leaves and add to the cream mixture. Add in the sugar and stire to dissolve. Strain the cream mixture through a sieve into a measuring cup.
- Divide the strained mixture into 5 shallow dishes and chill in the refrigerator for at least a few hours or until set.
- For the poached pears: Combine all the ingredients in a saucepan big enough to hold everything, including the pears. Set over a medium heat until the liquid comes to the boil, then reduce the heat so that it is barely simmering. The cooking time will vary according to the ripeness of the pears. Very ripe pears will only take 5 minutes, much less ripe fruit will need up to 15 minutes. As soon as they are ready, turn off the heat.
- Transfer the pears with their poaching syrup to a bowl and leave at room temperature until needed. Serve one or two pears on each plate with a little orange zest and some of the syrup.
- For the quinoa crumble: Toast quinoa seeds on a saucepan over medium-low fire until fragrant. Allow the seeds to cool slightly before milling them through a food processor until flour-like consistency.
7. Rub in the cubed butter into the dry ingredients until coarse breadcrumb consistency. Alternatively, you can do this in a food processor, pulsing every 30 seconds until butter is evenly distributed.
8. Place crumbs onto a lined baking tray and refrigerate until firm, while you preheat your oven to 180 degrees celcius. Bake for about 15- 18 minutes until golden brown in colour. You can cool it down and break into small crumbs after it has cooled.
9. For the meringue walnuts: Prepare a meringue b y whisking egg whites and sugar in a grease-free bowl until still peaks. Add in walnuts and sea salt and combine. Bake in a preheated oven at 170 degrees celcius until golden and crisp for about 8-10 minutes. Set aside to cool and then coarsely chop.
10. To serve: Serve the tea cream scattered with quinoa crumbs, poached pears (cut into cubes) and meringue walnuts.