Posts Tagged ‘100 Mysteries’

Zen; Or The Art Of Ayurvedic Brownie Making

Brow-nie!

Like the enduring search for a suitable mate, a good brownie is similarly hard to find.

There are fluffy brownies, cakey brownies, nutty brownies and frosted brownies.  There are chunky brownies, sweet brownies, crispy brownies and chewy brownies.  There are more kinds of brownies than there are hours in the day, and for my money, most of them are not worth the bother.  I’ve had success with Alton Brown’s cocoa brownies in the past, but every once in a while I get a craving for something just a little bit different…

To my mind, brownies are the ideal candidate for simplicity.  I don’t want nuts, frosting, M&M’s or candy mix-ins.  And I most certainly don’t want them swirled with cheesecake or peanut butter or any other heavy viscous substance.  When I take that first bite, I want the top to shatter in a mixture of crunchy, caramelized chewy delight, while the interior should be rich without being dense or cakey.

In short, I’m looking for a brownie miracle.

Months ago, when I finally located some 100 Mysteries tea, I’d found it a fantastic ingredient to experiment with.  It made its way into a panna cotta, and I’d intended to try additional applications, but other projects got in the way.  This weekend, I finally managed to pick up where I left off by producing a batch of 100 Mysteries brownies.

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Grown Up Jello

100 Mysteries Panna Cotta

As promised and only partly due to an abundance of whipping cream, I embarked on a panna cotta panoply yesterday.

For those who might not be aware, panna cotta is a gelatinized pudding-like dessert; one that I only recently learned to enjoy.  After an amazing orange blossom version (another anomaly since I despise oranges) at Cowbell, I realized the reason I’d been so turned off in the past was simply due to a heavy hand with gelatin.  Anything overly wobbly or exhibiting a skin was definite cause for a pass, but I endeavored to expand my horizons and try creating them at home.

When we visited Cheese Boutique recently as part of our ramp adventure, I managed to stock up on a few uncommon flavor extracts with the express purpose of preparing panna cotta.  But after considering my options (which included chocolate, rosewater and orange blossom extracts) I chose 100 Mysteries instead.  The two flavors I most wanted to test drive were unavailable and still being tracked down (elderflower and hibiscus) so tea seemed like an acceptable second fiddle.

I brewed a pot of cream with a tea ball full of the exquisite tisane, and allowed it to steep while maintaining the barest simmer for 20 minutes.  The recipe I used as a starting point called for a little honey, and in my naivete I thought that honeycomb would work just as well.  The flavor of the honeycomb was fine, but once the cream reached a certain temperature the beeswax melted and formed a slightly oily film that had to be extracted using the utmost care.  Once that disaster was averted, the rest was smooth sailing.  After the interval for brewing, bloomed gelatin sheets were stirred in, and the cream was dispatched into 4 dainty, fluted ramekins.  Following a slight dissipation of heat, the puddings were left in the fridge for a few hours to take a chilly catnap.

Success!

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So What Are The Other 92, Then?

100 Mysteries

I stopped in to The Mercantile again this week to visit proprietress Shannon and procure a tin of (gasp) 100 Mysteries tea.  She’s all out of ‘Mo Bacon, but assured me there’ll be more by the time I visit next, and there may even be (fingers crossed) Barcelona bars!!!

I first encountered this glorious blend of tea about a year ago while having dinner at Cowbell.  Only, at the time, I didn’t realize it was tea.  It had been the flavoring agent for a creme anglaise accompanying strawberry shortcake, but because of the name I’d somewhat narrow-mindedly assumed it was some sort of artisanal liqueur.  I enjoyed the flavor profile, and filed it away in the delicious-things-to-revisit-later section of my brain, but then promptly forgot about it.

Until our last few visits to Cowbell that is, when I decided to finish the evening off with tea and recognized the name as it was being recited.  One small whiff of that heady aroma while the blend steeped reminded me how much I loved it and needed to find a source for home consumption.  It turns out that the company that supplies them is called Tea In The Sahara, and they sell it (and many other blends) at a bunch of fine food stores across the province.

The first time I ordered it at Cowbell, the Everyman decided to have a pot of it too, and after hearing our server rattle off the laundry list of ingredients, he wondered aloud to me, well yes, but what are the other 92 ingredients?  It turns out that the 100 mysteries is not a reference to the number of ingredients it contains, but something to do with Ayurvedic principles (I read it somewhere and now cannot locate the source).  It’s a very delicious blend, comprised of rooiboos, cardamom, coconut, almond, apple, cinnamon, ginger and pepper and a few other things, I’m sure.  It’s creamy, dreamy, and an all round fantastic drink for lounging around on a rainy afternoon and curling up with a good book.

I’ve been thinking it’ll be amazing for infusing into panna cotta, ice cream base, shortbread or even some chocolate brownies.  Updates to follow as I test those theories out.

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