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I ramble about tea, or something tea related, in most of my posts. Many of the things I make are tea accompaniments – this is simply because “teatime” is sacred around here. And it is sacred in many other parts of the world – something we’ve learned and experienced in our travels.
One of the most classic teatime accompaniments back home in India is “Khari”. In essence these are baked puff pastry rectangles, sometimes flavored with roasted cumin or caraway seeds. But the best kind of Khari is plain, buttery and delicious. Dipped into hot and spicy milk tea, it is one of the highest callings for butter and flour pounded together.
I recently made a Chai Spice Bundt Cake for which I made my own Chai Spice mix, and I’ve been itching to use it every chance I get! Figuring the combination of cinnamon sugar and chai spice would be perfect with buttery puff pastry and hot chai, I started to make these.
Around the holidays, a lot of people were making glamorous variations of tarte soleil for their holiday parties, and I thought making this into a tarte soleil would be a fun “twist” for this Khari. It’s one of those elegant and complicated-looking appetizers that is ridiculously easy to make once you get around to it!
One of the other, very special reasons for coming up with this recipe in particular was that I was recently asked by Simple Loose Leaf Tea to come up with snack recipes to pair with some of their delicious teas! The tea in particular I’m pairing this Khari with is the robust and ever well-balanced Ceylon Supreme Tea! My Instagram is full of posts about teas from Ceylon (Sri Lanka), since I strongly believe that the best teas in the world originate from that gorgeous country! I’ve even written about it right after we visited Sri Lanka few years ago, and stayed at a tea plantation bungalow.
Right up there with their Tea, Sri Lanka is famous for its spices. We drove through the towns near Sigiriya (in the Dambulla region) while we were visiting – groves after groves of spice plantations for miles on end! We picked up some cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla from Sri Lanka years ago, and I still use it, albeit very sparingly when I’m making something really special. The use of warming spices in the Chai Spice (recipe included below) is a nod to the beautiful Sri Lankan countryside, where this tea comes from!
Without further ado, let’s start with the Puff Pastry!
Thaw it overnight in the fridge for best results – this way it will be uniformly thawed and still cool enough to handle without melting and being sticky. I usually go for Pepperidge Farms because its readily available. DuFour is a much better, all-butter puff pastry, usually available in Whole Foods.
These come in a pack of 2, 8-inch squares. Once thawed, roll one of the sheets out on a well-dusted counter top, into roughly a 14-inch square. It doesn’t have to be exact.
Once rolled out, place a 12-inch plate upside down on the sheet, and using a sharp knife, cut around it.
Repeat with the second sheet of puff pastry.
Save the scraps for later use, between sheets of wax paper, and pop them back in the freezer. These can be baked with some berries and cream cheese for a shortcut Danish, or even just with some cinnamon sugar, for a quick treat.
Place the first sheet on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and moisten the edges with water. Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and Chai spice, and spread evenly. For a bit of a textural difference, add a tablespoon or so of raw or turbinado sugar. Place the other sheet on top and press gently along the edges, to seal. Place a small bowl or glass (roughly 2-3 inches in diameter) in the center of the assembled circle.
Make 4 cuts at 3-, 6-, 9- and 12-o-clock positions, keeping the center intact under the bowl. Divide each quadrant further into half, for a total of 8 cut pieces. Finally cut each of these 8 pieces into half, making it 16 pieces total, attached at the center. Set aside the bowl, then fold each of the 16 pieces individually into twists. You can twirl them over onto themselves 5 or 6 times, as shown below.
Brush the assembled tart with melted better and bake at 375 degrees F for 30-35 minutes, until golden brown.
Enjoy warm or cold, preferably with some spicy hot Ceylon Tea!
• Recipe •
Cinnamon Sugar and Chai Spice Khari (puff pastry twists)
Makes 16 puff pastry twists
2 8-inch puff pastry sheets (such as Pepperidge Farms or DuFour), thawed in the refrigerator overnight or at room temperature for 1-2 hours
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoon chai spice mix (recipe below), or equivalent mixture of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice
1-2 tablespoons raw or turbinado sugar (optional)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
All purpose flour for dusting
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a large baking sheet with a sheet of parchment paper and set aside.
Dust countertop with all purpose flour and lay 1 puff pastry sheet, unfolded, on the countertop. Sheet should be pliable and slightly cold to the touch. At any point if the sheet becomes warm or sticky, place in the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes and continue the process.
Using a rolling pin, roll out the square sheet on all four sides, making it a roughly 14-inch square.
Place a large plate (about 12-inches in diameter) on the rolled out puff pastry square, and using a sharp knife, cut along the diameter to create a 12-inch circle. Dust both sides, fold and set aside. Save well-dusted scraps of puff pastry for later use.
Repeat with second puff pastry sheet, so you have two 12-inch puff pastry circles in total.
Lay the first sheet on the prepared pan so that there are no folds or creases. Using your finger trip or pastry brush, moisten the edge of the circle (a quarter inch border) with water.
Combine granulated sugar, chai spice (or equivalent mixture of ground cloves, nutmeg and allspice) in a small bowl and scatter it over the dry portion of the puff pastry, spreading it evenly with the back of a spoon. If using, sprinkle raw sugar over the spice mix evenly.
Gently place second circle on top of the first, aligning the edges. Press along the moistened edges with your hands until both layers are glued to each other.
Place a small bowl or glass (roughly 2-3 inches in diameter) in the center of the assembled circle, and make 4 cuts at 3, 6, 9 and 12 o clock positions, keeping the center intact under the bowl. Divide each quadrant further into half, for a total of 8 cut pieces. Finally cut each of these 8 pieces into half, making it 16 pieces total, attached at the center.
Set aside the bowl, then fold each of the 16 pieces individually into twists. You can twirl them over onto themselves 5 or 6 times.
Brush the assembled tart with melted better. This is an optional step but will give the tart a bronzed look when baked.
Bake for 30 minutes, then check for doneness. It may take up to an additional 4-6 minutes to get the doneness you prefer.
Let cool slightly and serve with hot tea. Save the center piece for your favorite person in the tea party.
Makes 4 oz
2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 tablespoons ground ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cardamom
1/2 tablespoons ground nutmeg
1/2 tablespoons ground cloves
1/2 tablespoons ground allspice
1 teaspoon ground black pepper
Combine all the ground spices in a small airtight spice jar or container, and shake vigorously. Store in a cool dark place for about 3 months.