My sister and I hosted a tea party last weekend. We sent out invitations folded like tea bags, tea included, to a few friends (in the actual mail!). We had a lot of fun planning the treats – I made cardamom rose petits fours and little chocolate mousse cups, and my sister made mini cream puff swans and cheese scones. My sister’s collection of vintage Petalware dishes came in handy, and I picked up some flowers and arranged them for the table (this was actually surprisingly fun – who knew that picking out all your favourite flowers in a shop would make such a pretty bouquet!).
It was my first time making petits fours, and I was very happy with how they turned out. I made a single recipe of Alice Medrich’s hot milk sponge cake in a baking sheet (not sure what dimensions, but the kind that fits in a normal oven), adding freshly ground cardamom and orange zest. I then made three egg whites worth of swiss meringue buttercream, adding rose water and a small amount of red food colouring. Then I cut the cake into three rectangles and stacked them with the buttercream in between. Following the advice of an online video, I put the cake into the fridge with a weight on top for a few hours to make it compact and chilled. Then, I cut it into 21 squares and poured glaze over each one (just made of icing sugar, milk, and a little vanilla). The glaze was the most annoying part – I had to keep scraping up the overflow glaze and pushing it through a sieve so I could reuse it. I watched another video where they froze the cake squares first, and then just dipped them, but I didn’t have the patience to wait for it to freeze – maybe next time.
My original plan was to make candied rose petals, but I couldn’t find any organic roses for this… I thought that non-organic roses might not be super safe since they’re not intended for eating. So in the end, I found a gum paste recipe online just made of icing sugar, gelatin, and corn syrup. I added a little red food colouring, rolled it out, cut out and formed the flowers, and let them dry. This would have been much easier if I had a flower cutter (I was using the large end of a piping tip to cut circles and then forming petals), but you gotta do what you gotta do! The next day I added pink “petal dust” in the center (edible dust for this exact purpose!), attached pink dragées in the centres and stuck them on the cakes using more glaze.
I made the mousse cups by painting multiple layers of chocolate on the inside of mini muffin cups, refrigerating them, and then peeling off the cups.
My sister followed my mom’s recipes for the scones and the cream puff swans, filling the cream puffs with raspberries and whipped cream. Tasty and super adorable.
The only sad part of the day was before the party, when we were loading the car to head over to my sister’s. The weekend before, we had spent several hours decorating some pretty pastel cookies. I had them in a tin and placed them on the car roof while I put everything else in. I’m sure you can imagine what happened… there were a lot of happy seagulls on 4th avenue that day. It was especially tragic because we didn’t get any pictures of them. Oh well, I’ll make them again another time!
Photos taken by Katie Byatte.