Sunday, 2 February 2014

A high time at tea

Doesn't everyone love a high tea?

There's something magical about sitting down with beautiful table linens, pretty china, a crystal glass of bubbly and a range of dainty sandwiches, savouries and sweet delicacies.

One of the loveliest Mother's Days I had was spent at the Waiting Room at Crown Melbourne having High Tea with family and friends.

I wanted to invite my workmates over for a get together away from the office. Work's been stressful lately so they needed spoiling.  So on Australia Day weekend, six of them who weren't going away popped over for the afternoon and high tea.

Lemon Meringue Coconut Cupcakes

Rhubarb and Vanilla, Mango, and Raspberry jams, served with Raspberry Cream and Chantilly Cream (and scones of course!). I made pineapple jam but it was overcooked ( I am not an experienced jam maker - will have to practice)

Love my Royal Albert Country Roses

This Sugar and Creamer  set was a gift from my late Aunt Nell

Sandwiches : Red salmon with cream cheese, lime, dill and lemon pepper
Lightly curried egg mayonnaise with watercress
Home cooked corn beef with Jarlsberg cheese and wholegrain mustard
Cucumber with tarragon butter

Passionfruit curd and marscapone tarts - one of my favourites (recipe below)
Mini sausage rolls with smoked hickory sauce
Curried vegetable puffs with pickled cucumber sauce (not pictured)

Scones made by my daughter Meg.

It was a beautiful day, and not too hot after our severe heatwave.

Our final conquest for the day was an old favourite of mine, the no-bake biscuit cake. This recipe uses Nice biscuits dipped in coffee and rum and sandwiches them between layers of chocolate buttercream. It is a superb recipe and reportedly has been served to the Royal family at Balmoral A fitting end to an English tradition.

Passionfruit Marscapone Tarts
These little tarts are so delicious and not too difficult to make. The shortcrust pastry, made in a food processor, turns out beautifully every time and can be used with other fillings. They can be made in any size tart cases, I use small fluted loose based flan tins. I have also made this recipe as a single large flan.
300g plain flour
200g cold butter, cut into squares
100g icing sugar
25g almond meal
1 egg yolk
Combine dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter and pulse till mixture resembles bread crumbs. Add egg yolk and pulse again until mixture forms a ball. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill until required.
You can make extra and freeze till needed, this recipe freezes well.
1 tub marscapone
2 tablespoons caster sugar
Mix until sugar is dissolved and mixture is smooth
Passionfruit curd
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup sugar
50g butter
85ml passionfruit pulp (a small tin or about 4 fresh passionfruit)
1/2 tablespoon custard powder
Mix custard powder with passionfruit pulp and whisk until there are no lumps. Add remaining ingredients. Microwave on high in 15 sec intervals, whisking in between until thick. Can also be done on the stovetop, stirring constantly, but microwave is easier.
Cooking the pastry:
Roll out the pastry and cut circles to fit pans. Or if, like me, you find this unbelievably tedious, just pop a blob of pastry in the tin and work it around and up the sides evenly with your fingers, using a knife to cut across the top of the tin to level. Prick with a fork and chill until quite hard. Cook at 180c until golden (6-10 mins). Cool.
Assemble tarts:
When pastry is cold, fill with marscapone and top with passionfruit curd. Chill until required.
These tarts keep quite well in the fridge in an airtight container for several days.
Chocolate - Coffee - Rum No bake biscuit cake
A little technical difficulty but a wonderful result in a short time.
100g/4oz plain chocolate in small pieces
175g/6oz unsalted butter
3 egg yolks
75g/3oz lump sugar
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon sugar
150ml strong black coffee
2 tablespoons dark rum
32 Nice biscuits (about 1 1/2 packets)
Melt the chocolate. I prefer to use the microwave to melt chocolate, 30 second intervals at 30%, stirring in between until melted. Cool slightly. Cream the butter until light and fluffy (I use the mix master), and then beat in the chocolate.
In a separate basin whisk the egg yolks lightly. Put the lump sugar and water in a small, heavy based saucepan and stir over low heat until sugar is dissolved. Boil rapidly until temperature reaches 105C/225F on a sugar thermometer (thread stage). Whisk into the egg yolks gradually until the mixture has a mousse-like consistency. Add to the butter mixture a little at a time, and beat well.
Dissolve the extra sugar in the coffee and add the rum. Quickly dip 8 biscuits into the coffee syrup and assemble into a rectangle on a plate. Spread with a little of the chocolate buttercream. Repeat layers twice more and finish with a final layer of biscuits. Spread the remaining buttercream over the top and sides of the cake. Finish by sprinkling with chocolate vermicelli or flakes (I use the Lindt tinned hot chocolate flakes). Chill until firm.
This  cake also keeps very well in the fridge for several days.
Happy high tea-ing!

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