By Shannon Scales
Stress. I think we can all agree that stress has touched us all in some way this year. I am definitely no exception. Stress has a funny way of working its way into your life. Sometimes it comes on strong and fast, leaving you crippled and unable to move forward, and other times it is a slow burn that you've not seen coming. Sometimes you don’t even know you ARE stressed until you reach for that trusty cup of tea, breathing in its aroma, and feel your body unwind a little. "Ahhh so this is what relaxation feels like..."
That’s how I feel when I sip on one of my favourite teas, Willow’s Dream. A blend of Cream Earl Grey and Lavender, it gives off a warm, relaxing aroma that soothes the soul. When I drink it, I’m given a few moments of reprieve from my new daily grind and I find myself reflecting on what really matters - the little things. The special moments with family, the connections made through social media and the virtual world. The gift that is this life.
It isn’t surprising that I reach for my lavender filled tea when I'm feeling anxious or stressed. Studies have shown that this beautiful, hearty plant really does help you relax and could even be used to help treat anxiety. Linalool, a fragrant alcohol found in the plant, has been shown to have anxiolytic (anxiety reducing) properties when smelled or ingested. In folk medicine, this has long been considered the case and it is reassuring to have the science to back it up.
Another stress reducing tool that has been used enthusiastically since COVID-19 struck is baking (anyone still making sourdough bread?). While the craze seems to have died off a little, I personally still find great comfort in the kitchen.
The inspiration for this blog came to me when I was thinking of new ways to incorporate tea into baked goods. I don’t know why this came to me as fast as it did, but I was suddenly struck with an idea - I want to make a tea based tiramisu. The coffee infused dessert is such a specific flavour profile, I wasn’t sure if it would translate to tea. But my gut told me it would be amazing so I went for it!
Today I bring to you my newest creation, the Willow’s Dream Tiramisu. Delicate lady fingers carrying flavours of citrus, vanilla and lavender are complemented with the divine lightness and creaminess of mascarpone cheese. I love the light sprinkling of cocoa on top and a few lavender flowers to top it all off. I can’t think of any better stress reliever than a slice of this beautiful dessert paired with a hot cuppa. After all, stressed is just desserts backwards so why not take a moment and flip your day around?
Willow’s Dream Tiramisu
2 cups water
4 tbsp Willow's Dream Tea
2 x 1 inch strips orange peel
2 tbsp white sugar
2 egg yolks
Pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup heavy cream
18 lady fingers
1 tbsp cocoa powder
Add the water to a saucepan and bring to a boil over medium-high heat, then remove from heat and add the tea bags and orange peel. Cover and steep for 10 minutes. Discard the tea bags and add the 2 tablespoons sugar. Stir until the sugar dissolves. Pour the tea through a strainer and set aside.
Beat egg yolks and remaining 1/4 cup sugar in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water using a whisk or handheld electric mixer until tripled in volume, 5 to 8 minutes. Remove bowl from heat. Beat in mascarpone until just combined.
Beat cream in a large bowl until it holds stiff peaks.
Gently fold mascarpone mixture into whipped cream until combined.
Spread a few tablespoons of the mascarpone filling onto the bottom of a 1-quart baking dish. Dipping both sides of each ladyfinger into tea mixture, line baking dish with 9 ladyfingers, trimming edges to fit if necessary. Spread half of the mascarpone filling on top. Dip remaining 9 ladyfingers in tea and arrange over filling.
Spread remaining mascarpone filling on top. Chill, covered, at least 6 hours.
Let tiramisu stand at room temperature 30 minutes before serving, then dust with cocoa powder just before serving.