I developed this recipe for a contest on Food52.com, (under my initial handle on that site, Srirachayeah, which I’ve since changed to IndieCulinary.) The point of the contest was to develop a late-winter tart; I used tea leaves soaked in lemon juice, (as a quick approximation of a longer fermentation or pickling process), in the crust of my “Hot Toddy Tart,” to punch up the tea flavor.
As I ruminated on the idea of a late-winter tart, my mind turned to seasonal fruits, and I thought of the trees in my neighborhood, still laden with lemons and oranges. Incorporating citrus into my new tart seemed a given– but how to take it in a new direction? Then I thought of my favorite wintertime cocktail, the Hot Toddy, and the idea for my new tart took shape. I researched the history of the drink, learned of its probable origins in Scotland, and all at once, I had my tart crust–shortbread cookie. I prefer brandy in a Hot Toddy, and so the brandied sugar topping for the shortbread crust was born. I wanted the bright flavors of fresh lemon, similar to the last- minute squeeze of the fruit into the cocktail, and so I decided to work the lemon into a whipped cream, to be used to top the tart. And finally, I knew I would need to highlight tea. This posed some problems. In earlier iterations of this tart, as I tested different ideas, the tea always came through too faintly. Finally, taking a page from Burma, and one of my favorite dishes from that cuisine– tea leaf salad– I decided to soak the tea leaves in lemon juice and then incorporate them into the shortbread, in addition to working prepared tea into the whipped cream.
You will find the resulting tart below– inspired by the iconic wintertime, fireside Hot Toddy cocktail, this tart showcases a crunchy brandied sugar topping, layered over a tea-leaf shortbread cookie crust, and topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, infused with all the flavors of the cocktail.
Hot Toddy Tart with Tea Leaf Crust
Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 60 minutes
Serving Size: 1 slice, 1/12th of tart
- 2 cups AP Flour
- 1 cup unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
- 4 bags black tea
- 4 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 2/3 cups brandy
- 1/2 cup butter
- 1 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 zests of organic lemons
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon brandy
- 1 tablespoon prepared tea
- Cut open tea bags and release tea leaves into small bowl. Add lemon juice and stir to coat leaves. Leave to sit for at least 20 minutes.
- Dice butter.
- Work flour, sugar, salt, and butter together in bowl with your hands until ball of dough forms, and no clumps of butter remain.
- Drain lemon juice from tea leaves, (cheesecloth or a paper towel can assist), and add tea leaves to the dough; work in until evenly distributed.
- Wrap and chill dough for 10-15 min.
- Press chilled dough evenly into 11 in. tart pan, (patch any holes or tears with extra dough), to a thickness of ¼ inch, and trim edges (roll rolling pan over top to effectively trim excess dough.)
- Bake in 350 degree F oven until a light golden brown (approximately 30 minutes.)
- Leave tart shell to cool.
- Combine brandy, butter, and next measurement of sugar in pot over medium heat.
- Stir constantly until it turns a deep reddish-amber, and registers 240 degrees F on a candy thermometer.
- Pull off heat and immediately pour over pre-baked shortbread cookie crust, and quickly distribute topping to edges of tart with icing spatula, before it sets.
- Cool tart.
- Combine cream and lemon zest in bowl; whip to soft peaks.
- Add final measurement of sugar, lemon juice, brandy, and tea in slow drizzle while whipping; whip to stiff peaks.
- To serve, plate individual slices and top with whipped cream.