Friday, 26 September 2014

Earl Grey Iced Gems Biscuits - black, white and zebra

"Mama, can you make some black and white iced gems?" -- elder kid's request.

"Wow! Earl grey flavoured iced gems sounds exciting!" -- a friend who is a fan of earl grey.

My kids love the iced gems I made earlier this week and they are already requesting for me to make more after seeing the diminishing supply of biscuits! I have a friend who is keen on having some earl grey flavored ones so I decided to make some black and white earl grey flavoured gems! Don't worry, I am not feeding them too much caffeine. They are only allowed a little a day. Most of it will be given away to adults to enjoy :). I will have to make another kiddy batch when the time comes...

I followed my successful recipe closely but infused earl grey into the liquids used (milk for biscuit base and water for icing). I used 1 teabag to infuse in 50ml of hot milk for 5 minutes and 2 teabags to infuse in 50ml of hot water. I also added half a teabag's worth of earl grey leaves into the royal icing. For your convenience I will put the recipe here.

Ingredients (makes about 70-75 biscuits):
Biscuit dough
70g plain flour
10g icing sugar
Pinch of salt
1 tsp baking powder
24g vegetable shortening
50ml hot milk
1 earl grey tea bag
1/8-1/4 tsp vanilla extract

Royal icing
146g icing sugar
10g meringue powder
1 tbs warm water
50ml hot water
2 earl grey tea bags
1.5 tsp charcoal powder
Extra water or icing sugar as necessary

1. Steep 1 earl grey tea bag in hot milk for 5 minutes (you may use 2 if you prefer stronger tea flavour). Squeeze the teabag to extract as much earl grey goodness as possible. Add vanilla extract to the milk. Set aside to cool.

2. Preheat the oven to 170°C (fan mode).
Line baking tray with baking sheet.

3. Mix all dry ingredients together and sift into a large bowl. (You may double the recipe since this is a small batch). Rub in the shortening with your finger tips until it resembles fine breadcrumbs.

4. Gradually add in the milk until you can form a ball of dough. You won't need to use all 50ml of it. Roll it to thickness of about 3mm. Use a round cutter to cut out circles of about 2cm in diameter (or any size that you have).

5. Place the cut out dough on baking tray. They can be placed pretty close together as the dough will puff up and not expand much sideways. Press it down a little in the middle. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on tray for 5 minutes before transferring to cooling rack.

6. To make the white gems, simply mix together half of the icing sugar (73g) and meringue powder (5g) with 1 tbs of warm water and use an electric mixer to beat it for 5-6 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Add more sugar if it is too runny and more water if it is too thick.  Transfer to piping bag (I used ziplock bag) fitted with a star tip and pipe the gems.

As rustic looking as ever!

Push leftover white icing into the other corner of the ziplock bag.

7. To make the black gems with earl grey flavoured royal icing, steep 2 teabags in 50ml of hot water for 5 minutes and squeeze the soaked up tea out. Let it cool slightly. Reserve one teabag. Follow step 6 except that you use tea instead of water. Add in half a teabag's worth of tea leaves into the mix. This is the natural color of earl grey flavored icing.

Can't see very well but it's light brown with black specs of tea leaves.

As my elder kid wanted black, I added 1.5 tsp of charcoal powder and a little more tea. Pipe out black gems in a similar way.

8. To make zebra gems (or any other color combinations that go well like red and white for Christmas), fill a piping bag with alternating black and white. To do this, snip the ziplock bags of white and black icing at the corner and pipe the icing in an alternating manner into the piping bag (I used a proper pastry bag for this but ziplock bags should do fine too.)

Pipe a few stars on a baking sheet until you get the desired zebra pattern before you start icing the biscuits.

9. Dry the biscuits for several hours or overnight before storing in airtight container. I sped things up by drying in the oven at 70°C for 25 minutes. (These biscuits are bigger than my previous attempt so I extended the drying time)

Looks like you can play some chess or board games with these ;).

Old school iced gems with a twist :). Earl grey fans will love these fragrant, crunchy but not-too-sweet biscuits with a cup of tea!

With love,
Phay Shing

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