Monday, December 10, 2007

Pairing tea & dessert


On Friday I left work around noon to go to an out-of-town concert that evening, but before I did my friend Susan called to ask if I'd be there a few more minutes, and if so she would be dropping off something for me. Hmmm ... it wasn't like Susan to drop off a Christmas present so early, so what could it be? Soon, the receptionist called to tell me my surprise was waiting downstairs.

Isn't this packaging just lovely? Most of my friends are pretty good cooks, but only a few of them are what I consider "perfect" bakers, and Susan is one of them. To get a treat from her any time is a delight. The card attached to this divine Almond Pound Cake with Hershey's Chocolate Icing said she was giving the cake early so I could use the Christmas-themed cake plate over the holidays if I wanted. Isn't that thoughtful! And note the button-and-thread design on the cake plate (detail below). Susan shares my love of needlework, so I'm sure she knew I'd love this.

Soon, I had the very pressing problem of choosing which tea to enjoy with such an incredible dessert! Over the summer, I attended Pearl Dexter's session on pairing tea and desserts at the World Tea Expo, which made me think about the teas enjoyed with sweets. This cake was such a special treat, I really wanted to be intentional, as we say, about what tea I paired with it. On Saturday and Sunday, I enjoyed a single slice each day, stopping at the halfway point of eating the cake to brew a different tea. On Saturday, I had the cake with Harney's White Christmas Tea (which has almond flavor, like the pound cake) and then with a coconut flavored white tea. I actually liked the white tea best with the cake, which really surprised me! Then on Sunday, I tried the cake with Stash's Chocolate Hazelnut tea (very good) and then an unflavored white tea (excellent). Again, I preferred the white tea. I plan to try even more teas with it (purely in the interest of research, of course). And in a virtuous moment, I did slice off half the cake and put it in the freezer so we'll still have some to enjoy at Christmas - with more tea!