I read an interesting article recently that highlighted the lack of good “mocktails” out in the current scene. Sounded like a challenge to me! As a bartending enthusiast (who now only demonstrates her mastery at parties), I thought I could play with our tea and experiment my way to success. Turns out I was right!
Meet the new mixologist’s best friend: Tea-infused Simple Syrup. Make a few versions of this, and honestly – the only limit is your imagination!
Tea-Infused Simple Syrup
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup hot tea
- Make a strong cup of tea, then mix the tea and sugar in a small pan (make sure that pan has a lid!).
- Bring the tea and sugar to a rolling boil.
- Move it off the heat, cover the pan and let it cool completely.
Matt and I made several syrups, using Rum Runner’s Red, Fujian Oolong, Ti Kuan Yin and Manjushree Assam tea! In the course of super-serious scientific experimentation (ahem), we quickly discovered that simple syrup can be used to make any number of distracting things, like candy and snow cones, but let’s keep on target – on with the mocktails (or more)!
Fruity Oolong Fizz
- 2 shots oolong simple syrup
(I used Fujian)
- Juice from half a grapefruit
(about 1/3 cup)
- Plain or lemon seltzer
- 1 shot gin (optional)
We enjoyed Bombay Sapphire in this.
- Place 5 ice cubes in a short glass.
- Pour simple syrup and gin (if using) over the ice with the juice from half a squeezed grapefruit.
- Stir, then fill with plain or lemon seltzer. Adding a colored umbrella to this refresher is totally up to you…but it’d be awfully appropriate.
The style of peanut brittle I made is actually called Nkati Cake, a traditional sweet from Ghana. I first learned about it when I decided to try Better Brittle in Syracuse, NY (where I grew up), a local company that makes the brittle in small batches. I adore peanut brittle in most forms, but I have to say that nkati cake is my favorite – the peanuts are crushed finely and distributed throughout the candy, thus giving the product a uniform, easily chewed consistency. It is rolled to an even thickness and then scored into squares, which later snap apart into neat little portions when cool.
I have made this brittle with peanuts, coconut (also called Kube Cake), sesame seeds and pumpkin seeds! It’s an extremely easy candy to make, and very fast. I enjoy it for its simplicity and infinitely variability; in fact, I decided to play with it again here – using Oolong Simple Syrup.
Oolong Peanut Brittle
[Inspired by recipe at Tutu’s Kitchen]
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup peanuts, crushed
- 3 tablespoons oolong simple syrup
(I used Ti Kuan Yin)
- Put a 12” piece of parchment paper down on the counter, and place a rolling pin next to it. Candy waits for no one!
- Put the sugar in a pan on medium-low heat. Allow the sugar to dissolve on the heat, which may take a few minutes. When the sugar is dissolved, add the crushed peanuts.
- Use a candy thermometer to monitor the temperature – when it reaches 300 degrees, remove it from the heat and turn the mass out of the pan onto one half of the sheet of parchment.
- Fold the other half of the parchment over the mass, and with a rolling pin, roll the candy until it’s uniformly about a quarter inch thick.
- Let cool for a minute, then take a knife (or a pizza cutter!) and press it against the candy like you were cutting it – you don’t have to cut through. Press a pattern of 1 inch squares into the candy. Let cool for 5-10 minutes, then snap it into little square bites.
It’s easiest to taste when the candy is completely cool, but beyond the strong flavors of toasted peanuts and the commanding taste of dark, caramel sugars, there is a floral note from the oolong that adds something subtle and unique to this particular brittle. Enjoy!