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TEA-hee-hee’s Delicious Plan

April 24, 2010

Hullo! Spot of tea? Do sit down. You’ve had a long day, and deserve some creature comforts. Jasmine? Chamomile? Earl Grey? And what else can I get you? Fluffy slippers? Remote for the telly? Cheetos? Xanax? I am, sir or madam, your obedient servant, Tea-hee-hee. I live to serve, I love to serve. I live to–

Oh sod it.

I rehearse the whole devoted butler thing daily, mind you, but sometimes I just can’t pretend.

Do you know what kind of power teapots used to have? Over tea, treaties were drafted and broken and drafted again! Nations rose and fell!  Teapots were the slow, patient, and yet ever-present, influencers of global events. The examples of this influence are of course too numerous to list here, but my personal favorite is this pour of Chrysanthemum Tea that deposed a ridiculously lazy Japanese Shogun.

Nowadays? You Americans pay $3 for drip coffee that tastes like charred mud. And what image springs to to mind when I say the word “teapot”?

Mrs. Potts. Bloody Mrs. Potts. Leave it to Disney to ruin everything.

I’ve had a lot of time to think whilst stashed carelessly on top of the refrigerator, sandwiched between behind a wok and a waffle iron, dust forever in my eyes and a permanent chill on my surprisingly sensitive cast-iron bottom. A lot of time to think. And I think that the time is ripe for a Return of the Teapots. Why, there’s even a whole Tea Party in the news these days.

But tea overthrows governments slowly, influencing sip by sip, conversation by conversation. I’m sure you know that the right cuppa, especially when accompanied by the right baked good, can be incredibly persuasive. And so, one brew at a time, one mind-alteringly good treat at a time, I will earn it all back. This is my Delicious Plan! The details are inconsequential now. We must get started on those treats.

I decided to begin with a recipe well-loved the web over: The Walnut Cake from Amanda Hesser’s Cooking for Mr. Latte. It is from the chapter where Mr. Latte, with his uncouth artificial-sweetener-loving ways, tricks the food critic extraordinaire into drinking an espresso spiked with Equal. Diabolical, Mr. Latte. I may have to take you on as a consultant on the Delicious Plan staff. Clearly, thanks to Ms. Hesser’s connection with the New York Times, and Mr. Latte’s work at The New Yorker,  serving this cake ingratiates me with the liberal media, which will be helpful later

The ingredients for the cake are, like my plan,  deliciously simple. Eight ounces of toasted walnuts food-processed into a fluffy meal with a tablespoon of sugar, mixed into the wet ingredients (7 tablespoons of butter at room temperature creamed with 2/3 cup minus 1 tablespoon sugar, 1 egg, lemon zest, and 1.5 teaspoons baking powder). The recipe also calls for 2 tablespoons of rum, but there was none to be found in my immediate area. And I have not yet secured the teapot-sized Aston Martin that comes later in my plan (Step #847, if you must know), so running  to the liquor store was out. The first time I made the cake, I agonized over substituting a few teaspoons of vanilla extract for the rum.

I was worried that it would stranglehold the flavor and make the batter too dry, but in the end I added it and then dutifully baked at 375 degrees. Forty-five minutes later, I had a brand new vanilla-scented pet rock. On the next try, I substituted 2 tablespoons of Grand Marnier for the rum and decreased the baking time, surmising that this would at least improve the texture. This failed horribly as well. Ms. Hesser says that the cake’s flavor improves as the days pass, but in my case, it only fossilized. She also tweets sweetly, “If you ever make this cake and it seems dry, brush it with syrup infused with whiskey or rum.” Well my cake SEEMS DRY, Mandi-poo, and that is the understatement of the year. And yes, I let the walnuts cool completely after toasting, so that can’t be the culprit.

Can it really be that one little substitution is hamstringing my plan at such an early stage? Does rum have some mysterious chemical leavening property? WHERE IS MY TEAPOT-SIZED ASTON MARTIN?

Forgive me. I’m calm now. This is only a minor setback. Perhaps I can barter my new walnut-studded door stop for a ride to the liquor store. Perhaps I can distill my own rum. We teapots do have a brilliant knack for biding our time.

Of course, when at last the moment arrives, I will not hesitate to strike quickly, and with the utmost precision. I dream of it often … thousands of espresso machines simultaneously grinding to a halt … board member expressions turning from delight to horror, as my words reverberate through a labyrinth of hushed hallways and then, at last, over the Puget Sound …

One lump or two, Mr. Schultz? ONE LUMP OR TWO?


4 Comments leave one →
  1. May 7, 2010 7:33 pm


    You have a delightful style of writing. Loved it.


  2. May 8, 2010 4:07 pm

    Thank you for your kind words, Sri. I hope TEA-hee-hee made you laugh. My goal is to do a series of posts in which he slowly progresses in his Delicious Plan, with recipes (and evil laughter) along the way.

    Your cardamom-rosemary-almond biscotti looks delicious … TEA might just have to add that one to his files!


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