Oolong Tea Blondies

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Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies
Oolong Tea Blondies

Hey, hey, hey!! How was your weekend?? Did you have to work on President's day? Did you stuff your bellies full of dumplings and noodles on Chinese New Year?!

I had a pretty swell weekend! Well it's technically still going on. It is Monday/President's Day. I am sitting at a tiny cafe table at the Sierra Ski Resort up in Tahoe. I am not skiing. Because I hate skiing and I'm not very good at it. But Reuben is having a great time though. Zipping through the snow, doing whatever skiers do. The lodge smells like chicken fingers and donuts right now. It's terrible. Because I'm so full from just general eating this weekend and the idea of eating anymore makes me a little nauseous. But I LOVE chicken fingers and donuts. OH GOD, THERE ARE CHICKEN AND WAFFLES AT THE LODGE! Ugh, and the family behind me brought their own instant noodles for lunch! THE TORTURE.

(Ok focus - ignore the delicious and conflicting smells) 

I'm going to rewind our weekend just a smidge. One of my very best friends, Kate, made a last minute visit to San Francisco on Saturday. She is literally a ray of sunshine. Or maybe more like a cosmic light beam/rainbow hybrid. I had not seen her in like a year (or maybe even more?!). So I got to spend the day with her showing off my hood, making matcha popcorn (recipe coming up next week!), and celebrating Chinese New Year with a big old feast! We invited a few friends over, folded dumplings (I made my family's classic potstickers. THEY ARE SO GOOD. But I don't quite have the heart yet to share the recipe.....), sipped on some beers and wine, giggled alot, and ate until our bellies ached. It was so great. How Chinese New Year should be celebrated. It also made me incredibly happy to have other people fold dumplings for me, muahahahaha!

The next morning, Reub and I woke up early to drive to Sacramento. We planned a really weird weekend. Instead of paying a million dollars to stay in Tahoe over President's day weekend, we got a hotel room in the nicest hotel in Sacramento for the night. The nicest hotel in Sacramento is not that expensive... if you're looking for a weird vacation destination. We stopped in a cute coffee shop with waffles, drank beer at a brewery, had the best poke, watched the olympics in bed (IDEAL), and got Mexican food for dinner. Pretty much our typical vacation itinerary. The next morning, we woke up before the sun was up to drive to Tahoe. Which is where we are now. Suffocating from the smell of chicken fingers and donuts.  

Sorry, we should probably talk about these blondies now, right?? One of my favorite ingredients to bake with is tea. Matcha. Ceylon. Jasmine. Earl Grey. Green. Oolong. I love it all! Infusing baked goods with tea creates a really lovely and delicate flavor. It's not as in your face as coffee flavor can be. I found that the best way to get tea flavor is by infusing butter with loose tea leaves. Instead of steeping tea in hot water you steep tea in hot butter. Sounds great, right?!

The idea for these blondies have been dancing around in my head for a few weeks now. I originally wanted to make Oolong Tea Snack Cakes (think Hostess Snack Cake), but when the weekend came for me to make them I was really craving something slightly fudgey, chewy, and slightly chocolatey. Blondies! These blondies definitely satisfied my fudgey, chewy, and chocolatey craving!  Oolong tea is a darker full bodied tea, with beautiful caramel and floral notes. It pairs perfectly with chocolate and the little bits of pistachio. I think they are best after they have cooled and firmed up. Plus it makes it a lot easier to cut into perfect little bars or squares to dunk into some ice cold milk! They sort of taste like one of those giant chocolate chip cookies you always wished you bought from the mall. But better and fancier because you just infused butter like a pro!


Oolong Tea Blondies

makes 16 2" squares

steps:

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Grease and line an 8"x8" baking pan with parchment paper.

Melt butter in a small saucepan over low to medium heat. Once butter is melted, add in loose leaf oolong tea. Heat the butter and tea leaves over low to medium heat for 5-8 minutes.

Remove the butter from the heat and pour butter and leaves into a fine mesh sieve over a heat proof bowl. Use a rubber spatula to gently press down on the leaves to get as much butter out as you can. Discard the tea leaves. Add the butter back into the sauce pan with the brown sugar and salt. Whisk over medium heat until the sugar is mostly dissolved, about 2 minutes.

Pour butter mixture into a large heat proof bowl. Allow butter to cool to about room temperature. Mix in eggs and vanilla until combined.

Sift together flour and baking soda in a medium bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture into the wet mixture, while mixing with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Add in chopped pistachios and chocolate until combined. The batter will be really thick.

Scrape the batter into baking dish and spread out with an offset spatula or back of your spoon so that the batter is evenly distributed.

Sprinkle flakey sea salt over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 18 to 22 minutes. Once golden brown, remove from the oven and allow the pan to cool completely on a wire rack.

Once cool, remove the blondies from the pan by pulling up on the parchment paper. Cut into squares and enjoy!

materials:

1 1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
14 tbsp butter
1/3 cup loose oolong tea leaves
1 cup brown sugar
3/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 cup chopped pistachios
3/4 cup chopped semi-sweet chocolate
2 tsp flakey sea salt for topping


Adapted from Vanilla Bean Blog's Coffee Blondies!

Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

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Happy first day of Summer! Happy Birthday to Momma Cho! I've always loved how those two days are the same, double the reason to celebrate! I spent about 75% of my waking hours outside in the sun this weekend, which is what everyone should be doing in preparation for summer. My shoulders were the color of tomatoes, but it was so worth it. It has been HOT in San Francisco this past week. Hot in SF = +70 degrees. My mom says it has been +90 in Ohio... we are wimps. This heat reminds me of summers in Ohio. When my brother and I were growing up at our family's restaurant we would keep cool by eat popsicles and running into our giant walk-in refrigerators. I remember walking in there and snacking on little bits of carrots and cooked roast pork. *Making a note to incorporate a walk-in fridge/freezer into the design of our future home.

On Saturday, we walked on over to Mountain Lake Park to check out the new playground. Reuben's coworker redesigned the new playground and it is so fun and colorful! I haven't been surrounded by that many kids in a very long time. I feel like I was being super creepy and staring at all the cute toddlers stumbling around and hoping they would walk over to me to play. I saw essentially my mini me and I wanted to be her friend so bad. Once we got our fill of kids and watching them wipe out on the big concrete slide, we headed down south for some rare time at the beach. It has been a while since we drove along the coast and saw the ocean. I often forget that I live in California when all I see most days is the stretch between Inner Richmond and Downtown. So it was a beautiful reminder that I live in a cool place : )

Sunday was picnic day. A great group of ladies and I get together for a Babes brunch every month or so and this month was a picnic edition! I look forward to these brunches so much. I love catching up with my girls and meeting the new babes that we invite each time. We found an amazing shady spot in the San Francisco Botanical Gardens to spend our afternoon. Did you know you can go in for free if your driver's license has an SF address?? Some how I did not, but now I want to go every weekend. It's gorgeous when the sun is out and it's not super crowded like Dolores Park. It's much more "civilized" than Dolores Park as well and less smells. Reuben was a little jealous of my sunny girl time so we went out for a Babes Picnic part 2 during the remaining hours of light. We drank beer and played soccer... I never play soccer.

I'm feeling great from maxing out on vitamin D and my shoulders are gradually settling into a nice tan. The heat is supposed to last until this weekend and then it will go back to a cool 65. To help cool down all week I made these refreshing Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles. Yes, a second stone fruit recipe. Yes, another tea based recipe. Peaches, plums, nectarines, and pluots are really delicious right now. So eat as many as you can! If you are food nerdy and want to learn more about oolong tea, read this. I've been really interested in experimenting with tea flavors (see Mango Green Tea Popsicles and Oolong Tea Sugar Cookies). I have dreams of making a Jasmine tea cake very soon.  I personally, love oolong because of it's strong and slightly caramel-y flavor. It's a pretty great replacement for coffee too if you want a rich and dark tea in the morning. It pairs beautifully with the sweetness of peaches. This makes a gorgeous peachy colored simple syrup that would be delicious in so many other recipes! I had a pop during my commute to work the other day and it was great. Breakfast popsicles should be a thing.

I hope you all are keeping cool wherever you are! I need a friend with a pool.


Peach Oolong Tea Popsicles

makes 10 popsicles

Steps:

1. Remove the pit from 2 peaches and thinly slice. Bring peaches, sugar, and 1 cup of water to a boil in a small saucepan. Boil for 5 minutes and gently crush the peaches with back of a wooden spoon to bring out that peach flavor. After 5 minutes, turn off the heat and cover with a lid. Let the peaches steep in the sugar water for 20-30 minutes. Strain the peach infused simple syrup through a fine mesh strainer and dispose of leftover peach flesh or eat it with dessert.

2. Brew your oolong tea by steeping the tea in 2 cups of boiling water for 8-10 minutes. Dispose of tea bags. In a large pitcher or measuring cup, combine tea with 3/4 c of peach simple syrup. You can add more or less depending on sweetness preference.

3. Remove the pit and thinly slice your remaining peach. Add 2-3 slices of peach to each popsicle mold. Fill each mold with peach oolong tea. Place in the freezer for 1 hour. Add wooden popsicle sticks and place back in the freezer to fulling freeze for atleast 5 hours .

Materials:

3 ripe peaches

1 C water (for simple syrup)

1 C sugar

3 oolong teabags 

3 C water (for tea)

Oolong Tea Sugar Cookies

I started this past week thinking that it was going to be terrible. I know that I shouldn't do that, but I started letting my anxiety about an upcoming work deadline get to me. I had an interior design presentation this past Friday and there were moments that I seriously wasn't sure if we were going to make it. But we did! And our client loved it! Hooray! Working with a deadline looming is the worst, but the hours afterwards are incredible!! My meeting was done  at 11:30 am, I proceeded to tidy up my desk a bit and distract the people around me with chit chat, then went on a gloriously beautiful lunch at the Ferry building with my work BFFs (Hi, Katie! Hi, Claire!). Then I peaced out early while Walking on Sunshine was playing on the PA system! JK, but I did leave early, it was great.

Looking back on the week, it really wasn't that bad. I didn't have to work past 9pm, I gave a quick presentation on my secret/not so secret passion for food in front of my coworkers and ate a lot of chips and salsa, I ordered poke via UberEats for deadline dinner, and Reuben took another ARE so we can actually hang out again (until his next test gets closer)! Small Victories!

The good vibes didn't stop there. I organized a volunteering event at City Slicker Farmers in Oakland yesterday and it was literally HEAVEN. I'm dedicating a whole post to our time there later this week. Everyone had so much fun! I was surrounded by gorgeous veggies and beautiful chickens, my heart was going to burst.

Oh, and Reuben surprised me with donuts when he came back with Vietnamese takeout yesterday! I love him!

Now I'm going to try to relax during my final hours of the weekend. I might make some tea and and take out some of this leftover cookie dough to pop in the oven. I've been really curious about baking with tea. After some research, it turns out simmering butter with strong loose tea leaves is the best way to get a strong tea flavor. My kitchen smelled so good while I made these. Oolong has such a great aroma! These cookies are so soft and chewy, and the oolong flavor is delicate and grows after each bite. I adapted the basic sugar cookie recipe from the Joy of Cooking  with an oolong twist. My journey of baking with tea will definitely continue, Jasmine Tea Brownies???

* We just started watching Sausage Party instead of the Oscars and I'm horrified... relaxing might not be possible... ugh.


Oolong Tea Sugar Cookies

makes 18 medium cookies

Materials : 

1 1/2 C All Purpose Flour

1 1/2 tsp Baking Powder

1/4 tsp Salt

16 Tbsp Unsalted Butter (After simmering with tea leaves you will have about 12 Tbsp of butter, a lot of it sticks to the leaves or pan)

4 Tbsp Loose Leaf Oolong Tea

1/2 C Sugar

1/4 C Honey

1 Egg

2 tsp Vanilla

 

Steps :

  1. Melt the butter on medium heat, once all the butter is melted add the tea leaves, simmer on low heat for 7 minutes. Pour the melted butter and tea leaves over a fine mesh strainer os sieve into a small bowl. Press the leaves with the back of a spoon to get any excess butter out of the leaves. Let butter sit out or in the fridge (about 40 mins) until it gets to room temperature and has the consistency of softened butter.

  2. Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt.

  3. Beat in a large bowl the butter, sugar, and honey, until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla until combined.

  4. Gradually add the flour mixture to the creamed mixture until combined. Let chill in the fridge for 20 mins.

  5. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Either with a cookie scooper of spoon, arrange dollops of cookie dough 2 inches. Bake for 10-12 minutes.

  6. Let cool and enjoy!