Gourmet Hojicha S'mores
I can say it now, fall is in the air. I suddenly realized it last weekend while I was strolling around my neighborhood. The sun was shining bright but the air was a little crisper than usual. I found myself appreciating the fallen leaves rustling on the sidewalk and craving a steaming cup of hot chai. Instead of going for something chai-flavored, though, I wanted to try something new. I’m all about cooking and baking with tea and I love experimenting with unusual combinations. Hojicha is a heavily roasted Japanese green tea. At a first glance, you might think it’s black tea because its liquor is dark and deep. With its flavor notes of fire-roasted chestnuts and caramel, hojicha is perfect for fall. Unexpectedly, it reminds me of roasted barley coffee, an Italian beverage which I love.
Gourmet Hojicha S'mores
INGREDIENTS for the hojicha marshmallows:
4 1/2 teaspoons gelatin powder
1/2 cup (125 ml) cold hojicha tea
3/4 cup (170 gr) sugar
1/2 cup (125 ml) glucose syrup [made by mixing together 2/3 cup (150 ml) water, 1 1/2 cup (300 gr) sugar and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Bring to a boil on medium heat and cook until the syrup thickens. Let cool before using]
1/4 cup (65 ml) hojicha tea (extra)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons hojicha tea leaves (crushed into a powder with mortar and pestle)
powdered sugar + cornstarch
METHOD for the marshmallows:
Stir together 1/2 cup (125 ml) cold hojicha tea and gelatin powder and set aside.
Put the sugar, half the glucose syrup and extra hojicha tea (65 ml) into a pan and bring to the boil. Boil until the mixture reaches 250 F / 120 C. I used my kitchen thermometer to check the temperature. Put the remaining 1/4 cup (65 ml) glucose syrup into the bowl of a mixer fitted with the balloon whisk and whisk on low speed.
Heat the gelatin and tea mixture in the microwave for 30 seconds then carefully pour it into the mixing bowl, still whisking. Carefully pour the hot glucose, tea and sugar mixture into the mixing bowl. Keep whisking on low. Increase the speed to medium and mix for another 5 minutes, then increase the speed to high and add the vanilla. Whisk for 5 more minutes until the mixture is white and fluffy and its volume has increased.
In the meantime, grease and line a baking pan with parchment paper. Dust with a mixture of confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.
Add the hojicha tea powder to the marshmallow mixture and when everything is well-combined, pour into the pan. Spread evenly. Dust the surface with the same mixture of confectioners' sugar and cornstarch.
Let it set overnight or at least 5 hours before cutting it. Coat your knife or cookie cutter with some vegetable oil to prevent sticking. Dust your marshmallows with the sugar/cornstarch mixture and coat evenly.
INGREDIENTS for the Graham Crackers:
1 3⁄4 cups (210 gr) whole-wheat pastry flour
1⁄2 cup (60 gr) whole-wheat flour
1⁄4 cup (32 gr) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 2 tsp. wheat bran
1 teaspoon baking soda
1⁄2 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 sticks (1 cup) (226 gr) unsalted butter, softened
2⁄3 cup (133 gr) unrefined cane sugar
2 tablespoons honey
METHOD for the Graham Crackers:
Combine the flours with the wheat bran, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugar, and honey on medium speed, until the mixture is creamy. Add the dry ingredients in three batches and whisk until the flour is fully incorporated. Continue beating until the dough comes together around the paddle, pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and gather into a ball. Place the dough ball on a sheet of parchment paper. Pat into a rectangle and then cover with another sheet of parchment paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough between the sheets of parchment to an even thickness of 1⁄8” (1/2 cm), maintaining a rectangular shape. Transfer the dough, still between the parchment sheets, onto a baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes.
Remove from the freezer. Using a pizza cutter, a sharp knife or a cookie cutter, cut the dough into 2-inch squares. Prick the crackers with a fork at regular intervals. Reserve the scraps for re-rolling and making more cookies. Preheat oven to 350 F / 180 C. Bake for 14 minutes, until golden at the edges. Transfer to a rack and cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.
Recipe for the Graham Crackers adapted from this recipe.
HOW TO ASSEMBLE YOUR S'MORES:
On one side of a Graham cracker place a square of good quality chocolate. Use dark or semi-sweet chocolate with a high cocoa percentage to counterbalance the sweetness of the marshmallow and crackers. You can also melt your chocolate separately and then spread it onto the crackers.
Toast your marshmallow carefully under the oven broiled for a few seconds or soften it in the microwave (keep an eye on it, unfortunately the microwave won't make it nice and caramelized). You could also use a kitchen blow torch. If you happen to be sitting next to a campfire, you probably don't need any instructions.
When the marshmallow is nice and soft, sandwich between the Graham crackers.
Have you ever used hojicha tea for cooking or baking?
Happy fall, fellow tea lovers!