Friday, 8 January 2016

chai tiramisu with rosewater & not being a flake

Losing connections is easy but making new ones not so much. I’m not talking about the connection you make on Facebook with a friend of a friend or someone who comments on something funny you’ve posted on a whim during the middle of the night, but real, lasting connections. Last night I cooked dinner (including this delicious chai tiramisu) for a few friends and reminded myself that surrounding yourself with a group of people who you like can actually be amazing and should be done more often. You’ll be pleased to know that I have already accepted three social engagements. And am I going to go to all three? Hell, yes!

Take note. Engaging in conversation with as much fluency as Robinson Crusoe and Man Friday on their first meeting isn’t something you should aspire to. Part of me wants to purchase a little diary. Perhaps physically writing things down in a book will make things all the more pertinent. I miss those days of physically doing things. Like adding paper to my old typewriter and pressing the keys which used to wake up the household when I was a moody broody teenager thinking she was Jane Eyre on the moors. Ok it was the 90’s and we did have computers, but I enjoyed the gravitas that a chunky metal typewriter possessed.

Towards the end of last year it dawned on me that I’d unknowingly turned into a serial flake – you know one of those friends that we all have who often (with good intentions) tentatively accepts invitations but then last minute decides not to go? Obviously I have a great bunch of people around me, who despite my countless flaky episodes still include me in their invitations to fun and interesting stuff happening around London.

It took time I’ll admit but I finally decided to say yes and keep saying yes even when the day arrives and I am yet make myself somewhat presentable and actually brave the London public transport in this cold (someone give me a personal chauffeur please!). It’s all well and good channelling a reclusive lifestyle for a short while but long term solitude? No fun. My friends arrived with drinks and hugs and stories. There was much laughter, talk, and obviously appreciation of my food - which you know I can never get enough of. As William Morris proclaims, ‘Fellowship is life.’

And so for my fellows I created this super scrummy chai tiramisu with a gorgeous rose and cardamom cream that tastes like rasmalai, with an extra layer of cardamom caramel for good measure. If you know rasmalai, you know it's delicious! It's so simple to make and involves hardly any cooking. Tiramisu traditionalyl uses raw eggs in the preparation and obviously coffee, but there's very little traditional Italian about this dessert. And you don't have to worry about using raw eggs. If in fear avoid I say, and I wasn't prepared to give myself or my guests salmonella. So throw yourself a dinner party and indulge :) 

Ingredients (6 servings)
1 200g packet savoiardi lady fingers
For the chai spice tea
400ml water (reduced to 300ml once brewed & sieved)
2 tsp loose leaf black tea (or two teabags)
1 large stick cinnamon
6 cardamom pod slightly crushed
5 cloves
1 cm ginger slightly crushed (1 tsp)
1 tbs sugar

For the chai spice caramel
8 tbs sugar
70ml water
4 tbs cream
1 cardamom pod seeds crushed

For the cream
250g mascarpone cheese
200ml whipped cream
50g caster sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp rose water
2 cardamom pod (seeds only) crushed
2 tbs cocoa powder for dusting

In a pan bring the 400ml water to the boil and add whole spices and simmer on medium heat for 2-3 minutes then add the loose leaf tea and sugar. Continue to simmer a further 2-3 minutes until the liquid has reduced a little. Sieve and measure out 300ml of tea and leave to cool in a deep wide dish.

Make the caramel by bringing the sugar, cardamom powder and water to a boil and simmering until the syrup is a little thick. This will take about 3-4 minutes on a low simmer. Mix in the cream and simmer for another minute until you have a caramel like consistency and leave to cool. If you notice the sugar crystallising take off heat and add a drop of water. 

Meanwhile whip the cream and leave to the side. Mix the mascarpone with the sugar and crushed cardamom until smooth. Add rosewater and vanilla and gently fold in the whipped cream.

Each tiramisu will need 3 lady fingers each so take 18 ladyfingers and cut each finger in half as they will fit better into the small serving dish. I used small glasses.

To assemble soak 3 ladyfinger halves for a few seconds each side until well soaked and cover the base. Add 2 tbs of the cream on top of the ladyfingers and then add 1 tbs of the chai spice caramel. Layer with another 3 ladyfinger halves, finishing with 2 tbs of the cream on top. Repeat for the remaining 5.

Cover with kitchen foil and refrigerate overnight and dust with cocoa powder to serve. 

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