Now that you know how to provide the perfect tea, it’s time to think about your afternoon tea party’s menu.
Generally, there are two types of teatime. One is the afternoon tea which is usually composed of small bites, including small sandwiches without the crusts and a sweet or two. The second is high tea, which is includes the previous items and the inclusion of a meat course and sometimes a soup.
Afternoon and high tea were usually consumed only by the upper class so it was ruled by the terms of etiquette. Typically, one was to eat the savory item(s), then the scones (which generally segues from the first to the last), and lastly the sweet item(s). High tea is generally considered a meal in itself, sometimes replacing dinner, while the afternoon tea that follows is meant to be delicate, dainty, and impressive.
The recipe components are able to be made early and composed moments before, so this menu is perfect for beginners. The following recipes are based on inviting four people (that includes you!) for this small meal.
First Course: Cucumber Tea Sandwiches
What you’ll need (yields 20 miniature sandwiches):
- 1 package of Boursin soft-gourmet cheese
- ¼ cup mayonnaise
- ½ teaspoon white pepper
- 1 English cucumber, sliced thinly
- 10 slices good country white bread
- chives, for garnish
1. Blend Boursin, mayonnaise, and white pepper well.
2. Spread mixture over each slice of bread, carefully place cucumber slices over half of the slices of bread, sprinkle cucumbers with chives, top with bread without cucumbers to form sandwiches (five sandwiches at this point).
3. Cut off crusts (do not cut off crusts before making), then cut each sandwich into quarters to make twenty miniature sandwiches.
You can also serve these sandwiches open faced: top each slice with cucumbers, cut off crusts, cut into quarters then garnish with small slices of smoked salmon or salmon roe with chives on top. (This will yield 40 sandwiches.)
Second Course: Simple Scones with Lemon Curd
What you’ll need:
- 1 cup crème fraîche or sour cream
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
- 1 ½ cups organic sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter, unsalted, room temperature and cut into pieces
- 1 egg, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit . Grease a large baking sheet. Blend crème, extract, and soda together. Set aside.
2. Blend flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder in a large bowl. Cut in butter with pastry cutter or fingertips until mixture resembles coarse crumbs, do not let butter melt. Gently stir in crème mixture and egg.
3. Turn out onto floured surface, kneading softly forming the dough into a disk ¾ inch thick. Cut into 12 pieces. Place 3 inches apart on pan, brush with heavy cream and sprinkle coarse sugar on tops.
5. Bake until golden brown, about 13 minutes.
What you’ll need:
- ¾ lemon juice, freshly squeezed (do not use that real lemon bottled stuff, ick!)
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
- 3 eggs
- ½ sugar
- ½ cup butter, cubed
1. Heat juice and zest in double boiler until hot, not boiling though. Whisk eggs in another bowl, followed by the sugar, beat until soft yellow color.
2. Temper the egg mixture by slowly adding a small amount of the warm juice mixture. Add more slowly, adding too quickly will result in scrambled eggs. SLOWLY!
3. Put back on heat after all the juice is added, cook until mixture thickens and first bubbles appear, could be anywhere from 5 to fifteen minutes, just keep stirring slowly.
4. Once mixture is thick enough (about pudding thickness) add butter a cube at a time, stirring to melt each addition. Chill before serving.
Third Course: Chocolate Dipped Shortbread Topped with Dried Fruit
What you’ll need:
- 1 ¼ cups flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 4 oz butter (1 stick)
- 8 ounces good semi-sweet chocolate, melted
- Variety of dried fruit (I use apricots, pineapple, and cherries), chopped
1. Cream butter and sugar together. Mix in flour.
2. Roll into a log using parchment paper. Cut into ¼ inch rounds.
3. Bake at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for approximately 10-15 minutes, just until it turns a pale tan.
4. Gently heat chocolate in microwave, while shortbread is cooling, in thirty second intervals.
5. Using a spoon top each round with chocolate then sprinkle some of dried fruit on top, press gently. Let cool to allow the chocolate to harden.
Other Tips to Impress Your Guests
Set your table with a simple table cloth and use crocheted placemats, use whimsical teacups and saucer sets (craft stores generally have solitary sets for cheap), sprinkle the center with small flowers (violets are nice), and provide a single simple flower arrangement or centerpiece. The use of a silver three tier serving platter will really set the whole thing off! Ritzy!
Of course, much of the etiquette that used to be observed makes many people today feel too restricted. So have fun with it, just having a tea time with dainty little things will make people impressed and feel like they are upper class! Good luck!