Earl Grey Is In

Earl Grey tea has more of a "pinkies up" vibe than tattooed pastry chefs with gauged earrings, but the tea is being explored as a trendy dessert and cocktail flavoring by folks like Luis Villavelazquez, the executive pastry chef at Absinthe and Arlequin Café in San Francisco. At Absinthe, he's currently serving Earl Grey shortbread with honey Jell-O and mixed citrus sorbet. The tea's floral and citrus aromas make it work naturally with citrus desserts, as well as floral fruits such as quince, explains Villavelazquez. Instead of steeping the tea or making an infusion to flavor his pastries, Villavelazquez says he "spice-grinds it fine into a powder and either mixes it in with the dry ingredients, or the fat." He also digs the way the tea "brings a winter scent" to seasonal desserts.

Also spotted at: Sugar Cube, a new dessert truck in Philadelphia, where it flavors the crème anglaise served on chocolate bread pudding (another trend!); Rye in Williamsburg, in a desserty cockatil called the "hot buttered rye" made with tea, molasses, rye whiskey, and spiced butter; 2941 in Falls Church, Virginia in chocolate cake served with Earl Grey ice cream, almond nougatine, and blood orange segments.