Friday, May 24, 2013

Vanilla-Chamomile Cremeux {Cook the Books}

This round Deb, at Kahakai Kitchen, selected The Color of Tea by Hannah Tunnecliffe for our April-May Cook the Books project. Serendipitously, the author herself will be judging our entries. No pressure...

Annnnnd, despite having had the book on my nightstand for months - yes, months! - I waited until the last minute to read it and cook from it; but at least I made it to the party.

I cracked the cover on this book after an evening event at the boys' school. My house was silent except for the hum of the filter on our fish tank. It was far too late for me to be up, especially as I had a busy day at work the next day, but I couldn't put it down. And I eventually fell asleep with it on my chest, sleeping peacefully until my husband came to retrieve me from the couch.

The Read
Grace Miller has landed on the tiny island of Macau - "the bulbous nose of China, a peninsula and two islands strung together like a three-bead necklace." A stranger in a foreign land, Grace towers over the crowd and her ginger hair makes her even more of a spectacle.

Facing the devastating news of her infertility, her dreams of becoming a mother are dashed and her marriage begins to crumble. Grace decides to do something impetuous and finds solace in baking and the formal pleasure of afternoon tea. She opens a cafe, named Lillian's, where she serves tea, coffee, and macarons. Like the delicate French cookies colored like precious gems, The Color of Tea, is a delicious, melt-in-your-mouth treat with the sweet pleasure of French pastries and the exotic scents and sights of China.

The Recommendation
Tunnicliffe's prose is vibrant on the page.  I felt the despair and rapture of the characters as if they were my own.  I was enamoured with the characters.  And I longed to step into Grace's cafe. I wholeheartedly recommend this book - to married gals and their single pals. To macaron afficianados. And to foodies, in general. It's a delicious delight.

The Recipe: 
I put my littlest kitchen elf to work, making the...

Vanilla-Chamomile Cremeux

This is one of his favorite desserts and one he's made more than once. I almost don't have to help him anymore. But we added some chamomile to the mix, this time around, to fit the 'tea' theme of this post.

For the cremeux
1-1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream
1 vanilla pod
1 T dried organic chamomile blossoms
2-1/2 C white chocolate chips
1-1/2 C thick yogurt (I use a European-style)
1 T honey

For the poached apples
2 apples, peeled and sliced
2 T dried organic chamomile blossoms
2 C water
2 T honey
1 vanilla pod

Step 1: Make the vanilla-chamomile cream.
Place 1-1/2 C organic heavy whipping cream in a sauce pan along with the caviar of one vanilla pod - plus the pod - and 1 T of dried, organic chamomile flowers. Heat the cream until it begins to bubble around the edges. Remove from heat. Let steep for 10 minutes.

Step 2: Melt the white chocolate.
Remove the pod from the cream. Bring to a bubble again. Add in 2-1/2 C white chocolate chips and swirl until they are completely submerged. Let stand for 3 minutes. Then, with a whisk, blend till smooth - like you're making a ganache.

Step 3: Make the cremeux.
Place 1-1/2 C thick yogurt in a mixing bowl. Stir in 1 T honey. Once the white chocolate-vanilla-chamomile cream is smooth, add it to the yogurt and honey. Blend until completely combined.

Step 4: Assemble pots.
Dylan spooned apples poached in chamomile tea* into the bottom of a ramekin. Then he poured the cremeux over the top. We covered the pots with plastic wrap and let them set overnight.

*As I was rushed for time, I didn't photograph the apples. But read this post - Earl Grey Poached Pears Salad - to get an idea of what to do.

Step 5: Garnish for serving.
To serve, we topped the cremeux with cookie crumbles and fresh thyme. I should have added some chamomile flowers. Whoops.

Click here to view the call for entries and to read what the others were inspired to create. Our hostess made some delicious looking Raspberry-Almond Oat Bars. Yum.


  1. That looks fantastic, Camilla! Tea, the sensual nature of the dish fit perfectly with this story.

  2. I love littlest kitchen elf's addition of the camomile. Perfect for this post.

  3. Wow Camilla! You and your kitchen elf did an incredible job. I love the addition of the chamomile--so perfect for the book. This look like the perfect dessert for me--I love the creamy pudding-like texture and the apples tucked inside. I am glad you enjoyed the book!

  4. Your handy kitchen elf makes me miss my own sous chef, she's a teen now and too busy. You both did a great job, I love that dessert and would like some immediately.

  5. What a gorgeous presentation and beautiful dessert :) perfect for Grace's cafe!

  6. Pass some of that cremeux on over here too! The kitchen smells must be fantastic when this is baking.

  7. This sounds wonderful! Did you strain the chamomile blossoms out?

    1. Yes! I guess I should have written that in. Strain away.


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