Winter Fruit and Spiced Black Tea Stew
I first encountered the idea of stewing dried fruit and nuts in a sweetened and spiced black tea while working in Zürich for a creative chef who knew how to appreciate ingredients. In fact, the restaurant had four versions of this dessert – one for each season. They were all different, using spices and fruit that highlighted the particular season. Of course, there is a definite lack of fresh fruit hanging around the markets in Switzerland during the winter months, so we simply used really tasty dried fruits. They gently stewed in a spiced and sweetened strong black tea…but only for a brief period to prevent overcooking and turning into a pot of mush. The fruits and tea were cooled quickly, then left to mingle with one another for a night or two. The final step involved the tea. We removed the fruits and nuts, then reduced the tea to a syrupy consistency. The fruits and nuts were added back to the intensely flavored tea syrup and essentially cold-brewed for another night. Finally, the dessert was ready to serve…warm and usually with a nice scoop of ice cream!
My interpretation below makes a few changes and additions to the recipe I originally made. I began roasting the nuts to improve their crunchy texture. I added dried apples and cranberries to lend a holiday note to the dish. I even added a bay leaf to lend a certain savory aromatic note that just hovers in the background. These are simple changes I incorporated and also highlights how simple it is to make your own variation of this light and flavorful (and somewhat unusual) dessert.
Yield: makes about 6-8 servings (one liter/one quart)
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