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Orange Spice Carrot Cake Muffins

Carrot Cake MuffinAs promised, here’s the second recipe from our recent Chamber of Commerce party. Our food theme was cooking with tea, and this was a variant of a recipe that Bigelow Tea originally published. Obviously, we substituted teas that we sell at our Tea Bar for what they originally suggested.

In the muffins themselves, Kathy used our Cinnamon Orange Spice Ceylon tea, which adds some nice black tea flavor to the pure herbal blend in the original recipe.

For the frosting, she used one of my house blends: Hammer & Cremesickle Red Tea (you can order it here). The honeybush, rooibos, orange, and vanilla give it a sweet, rich, creamy flavor.

We made mini muffins, since they were being served hors d’oeuvre style. Feel free to try this as full-sized muffins or even a cake tin. Just adjust the baking time a bit.

Muffin Ingredients

  • 1/2 ounce of Cinnamon Orange Spice Ceylon Tea
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1-3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 can of mandarin oranges
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp fresh-grated orange zest
  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2-1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 cups shredded carrots

Muffin Process

  1. Boil water and add to tea. Steep for 6 minutes and strain out leaves.
  2. Heat oven to 350 F.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar, eggs, and vegetable oil. Mix thoroughly at high speed for 1 to 2 minutes, or until thick and creamy.
  4. Drain the can of mandarin oranges (discard the liquid), and add it to the mixing bowl, along with the tea, vanilla, and orange zest. Continue mixing until well blended.
  5. In a separate bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Add this blend to the mixing bowl and mix at low speed for another 1-2 minutes.
  6. Add the shredded carrots and continue mixing until well blended.
  7. Scoop the batter into muffin tins, either using paper muffin cups or spraying the tins with non-stick spray. Fill a bit over 1/2 full.
  8. Bake for 18  to 20 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean.

Frosting Ingredients

  • 1/4 ounce Hammer & Cremesickle Red Tea
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 eight-ounce package of cream cheese
  • 1 tbsp butter (softened)
  • 3-1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar

Frosting Process

  1. Boil water and add to tea. Steep for 6 minutes and strain out leaves.
  2. Combine butter and cream cheese in a mixing bowl. Mix at high speed for one minute or until light and creamy.
  3. Add 2 tbsp of tea from step 1 and mix well.
  4. Add confectioner’s sugar and mix thoroughly for 1 to 2 minutes or until smooth and creamy.
  5. After the muffins have cooled, frost the top of each one with frosting.

These were a smash hit at the party, along with the Hipster Hummus recipe that I posted last week, and a couple more that I’ll be posting soon (next in the series: Meatballs in Lapsang Souchong Cream Sauce).

Hammer & Cremesickle Red

Hammer & Cremesickle RedIsn’t it fun how names develop for tea blends? The naming process is almost as much fun as the blending process itself.

For weeks, I had been trying to come up with a tea that invoked the taste of the creamsicles I used to enjoy so much as a kid (Who am I kidding? I still enjoy them!). Frozen orange over a vanilla bar. Yum! My initial attempts were based on black teas, and the flavor of the tea kept overwhelming the flavor of the orange and vanilla.

Finally, I hit on something that seemed to work. A blend of rooibos and honeybush as a base, which adds a rich, creamy texture. Orange and natural vanilla for the cremesicle flavor, and just a touch of carob to round everything out. I tried it both hot and iced and decided I liked it.

Some friends, Al and Ranetta, popped by the tea bar, and I asked if they’d like to sample my newest concoction. Being willing guinea pigs, they acquiesced. They tasted, we talked, and they liked it. Ranetta asked if she could buy a few ounces. As I started to write out the label, my hand stopped, poised to write, as I realized I hadn’t named the new blend yet.

I decided to write “orange creamsicle,” but Al was talking and distracting me (It’s all Al’s fault. Really it is). I misspelled the word. Unbelievable, isn’t it? But I threw an extra K in there. I noticed the error and commented on it.

“How did you spell it?” Al asked.

“Sickle with a K,” I replied. “As in ‘hammer and sickle’.”

It struck us both at about the same time that this is a red tea (the rooibos plant is also called the African redbush), so that could end up as a very fitting name. Al asked for a sheet of paper and set to work sketching a logo. I scanned, tweaked, and colorized his masterpiece (sorry, Al) and included it at the top of this blog post.

(Please imagine, in the following paragraph, that I’m speaking with the same accent as Mickey Rourke used when playing Whiplash in the second Iron Man movie. If you can’t do that, I’ll settle for Boris Badenov from the Rocky & Bullwinkle show.)

You must buy Hammer & Creamsickle Red now, comrade. Will take you back to childhood summers at family dacha on Volga river. Decadent treat from American capitalists. We have our own capitalism now; our own pravda. We have no money, but tea is cheap. Try now.

[UPDATE Feb 2012: We used this tea in the frosting for our Orange Spice Carrot Cake Muffins. It worked beautifully!]

[UPDATE Apr 2012: Al has drawn us another logo, this time for Robson’s Honey Mint Tea. He does great work.]

[UPDATE May 2012: Hammer & Cremesickle Red Tea is now available on our new Tea Bar website. I’ve updated the links in this article accordingly.]

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