As I sit down to write this column, I am recalling the amazing afternoon tea I just enjoyed at the Grand America. What a fun experience. My sister and I treated my mom to a lovely Mother’s Day splurge as we dressed up and sipped tea and hot cocoa while nibbling on blueberry scones, strawberries topped with Chantilly cream, delicate sandwiches, mini tarts, chocolate mousse and beautiful French macarons.
Even though that delightful afternoon meal was just two hours ago, I can’t help but want to recreate some of those delicacies and come up with an excuse to host my own high tea. And, since it’s clearly graduation, bridal and baby shower season, now is a great time to find recipes for sweet scones, savory sandwiches and dainty desserts. For more ideas, visit our Party Ideas board on Pinterest.
No traditional English afternoon tea is complete without a serving of sweet, fruity scones. Raspberry or blueberry scones are delicious and are a perfect complement to a cup of piping hot tea. While at the Grand America, the blueberry scones were our first treat of the afternoon. The best part of the scones, however, was the perfectly tart lemon curd.
Create your own curd. Beat together two large eggs with two egg yolks, 1 cup of sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon zest and the juice of 1/2 a lemon. Pour into a saucepan and stir over low-medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Add 3/4 cup cubed, cold butter a couple pats at a time until each is melted and incorporated. Continue cooking for 4-5 minutes until thick. Pour into sterilized Mason jars and store in the fridge.
After enjoying our curd-slathered scones, our waiter brought out a three-tiered tray of nibbles. The first layer consisted of savory sandwiches and some beautiful deviled eggs. The array of sandwiches included an egg salad-filled bun, a traditional cucumber, braised beef slider, veggie hummus and bell pepper option and, my favorite, a mini Cuban.
One possible option perfect for high tea is this James Beard Onion Sandwich. Using a small round biscuit cutter (about 2 inches) cut out rounds from 8 thick slices of white bread. Spread one side of each circle with butter. Place a thin layer of sliced sweet onions over the butter. Season with sea salt. Top with another round of bread. Spread some mayonnaise around the outside rim of each round and roll in parsley to coat.
Of course, there must be desserts when enjoying an elegant afternoon tea. And, the more dainty and delicate the desserts, the better. Traditional petit fours, bite-sized cakes enrobed in chocolate ganache or icing are a beautiful touch to any tea party. Other ideas include tarts, little servings of mousse or cookies like macarons and tea cakes.
Or, try this recipe for Lemon Meltaway cookies. Mix 1 1/4 cups flour with 3/4 softened butter, 1/2 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon lemon zest. Chill dough for 2-3 hours. Shape cookies and bake at 350 degrees for 8-12 minutes. Top with a frosting made from 3/4 cup powdered sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 teaspoon lemon juice.
— Jennifer Durrant