Afternoon Tea Party

Yesterday might have been the perfect day for an afternoon tea party. As in, it was cold, gray and a bit wet. The type of weather for sitting around inside the house, drinking tea and munching on snacks. Well, as you’ll soon see, we stuffed ourselves silly. It was a ladies only event, and luckily there were just four of us (plus a toddler), so we could sit around the table quite comfortably and use actual tableware instead of the paper stuff. One of my guests brought along her adorable Alice in Wonderland themed tea set and other tea party supplies which you’ll catch glimpses of in the photos. If I do this often enough, I might just have to invest in a set of my own!

We ended up using the loose leaf teas and making one pot of the green tea (genmai cha) and one pot of black tea (Earl Grey). As a cool refreshing beverage, I had some mint, lemon and ginger scented water on hand. It’s super easy to make – just throw those 3 ingredients into some water and let it sit for about an hour before serving. I also set up a condiment tray with milk, sugar, butter, clotted cream, blackberry jam, and marmalade. Now that summer’s also coming along, this was the perfect time for a fruit salad as melons, berries, and cherries are at their peak flavor and sweetness. A little mint chiffonade gives it an additional boost of flavor. Yum!

I had to make scones, of course. This time in the whole wheat cranberry variety, in hopes to make it a bit healthier to offset the clotted cream and jams that got slathered all over it. I’m pretty sure finger sandwiches are also a requirement for afternoon tea parties. In this instance they were present in the form of roast beef & horseradish, cucumber+cream cheese+dried cherries, and pear & brie. (I made a rosemary apricot chicken salad to make canapes, but I ran out of table space. That’s where a tiered stand would’ve been handy! Hahaha.) As a bonus, I also made a little spinach, artichoke & parmesan in a tart pan for a pretty presentation. It’s got fluted edges right out of the pan.

Now on to the sweet stuff. I decided to make a small 6″ carrot cake with a basic cream cheese frosting. The walnuts are a little trick that covers up any imperfections in the frosting. I tried something new with making a candied carrot bow on top out of thin strips of carrot. I used a vegetable peeler to get the strips, and cooked them in sugar syrup until they turned translucent. To get them to harden up, I then rolled the strips in granulated sugar. I think it makes a neat presentation and adds a lot of color. The flavor is very mild, so you don’t get a lot in that realm. (If you look carefully you can see the tip of the toothpick that holds it all together). If I were to do it again, I think I’d try for carrot chips instead. Dip the same carrot strips into simple syrup and bake in the oven at the lowest temperature it’s got, anything under 200 °F will do.

Next off was the kumquat angel food cake. I finely chopped a small handful of fresh kumquats folded it into the batter right before filling the pans. I must say that I like this combination a lot. Angel food cake tends to be quite sweet to me, so the tartness of the kumquats balances that out and adds a nice punch. Not to mention that kumquats are very aromatic and adds a lot of flavor to an otherwise plain cake. For the bite sized sweets I made brownies, lavender ganache macarons and green tea cream puffs. I admit – I made the brownies out of a box, of the Trader Joe’s brand. I actually like their boxed brownies a lot, and am not sure if I’ve ever made a batch of brownies from scratch that are consistently better. Someday though, it will happen.

Obviously I made more than enough food for probably 8-10 people instead of just 4 and a half, so I’ll be happily eating leftovers for the next few days. Until next time!

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