FLORAL INSPIRED AFTERNOON TEA

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”The difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.”

Now, I know we all love Lizzie and Darcy, but honestly, my favorite prideful curmudgeon and the outspoken free spirit that changes him, couple is Eliza and Henry, from My Fair Lady. He is an EPIC chauvinist. Just…next level. I mean, he has an entire song titled, “Why Can’t A Woman Be More Like A Man.” And Eliza, well, is very rough around the edges (when I was little, I would fast forward the first half of the movie because her grating “Noooooo!” would get on my nine-year old nerves). But that friction is key to the chemistry here. Every time Henry bemoans her lowly accent or congratulates himself on her hard won progress, she comes back with a song about eventually murdering him, or just up and leaves him, without any explanation or drama. It takes the tenacity of a “heartless guttersnipe” to effect change in Henry. His closest admission of love comes in the form of :
I’m very grateful she’s a woman
And so easy to forget

Rather like a habit
One can always break
And yet
I’ve grown accustomed to the trace
Of something in the air
Accustomed to her face

I love this love story so much. There’s no big kiss, there’s no sighs, no one is fleeing Nazis on a rotary plane in Morocco – but there’s a quiet love, and a genuine friendship.  They both are pushed and challenged by the other, and don’t take any punches.

To celebrate Eliza’s transformation from flower girl to young lady, I thought a floral tea party was the perfect party to throw. Strawberry nasturtium jellies, flower coated elderflower petit fours, and Earl Grey Lavender madeleines fill out this delicate array of sweets. Enjoy!

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STRAWBERRY NASTURTIUM JELLIES

INGREDIENTS

1 pint strawberries, roughly chopped

1/3 cup nasturtium flowers (or fragrant rose petals)

2 1/2 cups granulated sugar plus 1 tablespoon

1 1/2 cups unsweetened smooth applesauce

1 tablespoon powdered pectin

4 to 5 drops red food coloring (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Combine the strawberries, nasturtiums, and a tablespoon of sugar in a small pot over medium low heat. Cook for 5 to 10 minutes.

Cut a 16-inch-long piece of parchment paper and fold over the edges so it measures 8 inches wide. Line an 8-by-8-inch baking pan with the parchment, seam-side down (the 2 long ends will hang over the edges). Be sure to fit the parchment as smoothly as possible into the dish, snugly creasing it into the corners; set the pan aside.

Place 1 cup of the sugar, the applesauce, and pectin in a medium saucepan and whisk to combine. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Attach a candy thermometer to the saucepan, add 1 more cup of the sugar (set the remaining 1/2 cup aside), and cook, stirring occasionally, until the mixture reaches 220°F, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Remove from the heat and remove the thermometer. Stir in the food coloring, if using. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and refrigerate until set, about 2 to 3 hours.

To remove the pâte de fruit from the pan, sprinkle 1/4 cup of the remaining sugar in a thin, even layer about the size of the baking pan on a cutting board. Invert the pan, and the pâte de fruit, onto the sugar and peel off and discard the parchment.

Cut the pâte de fruit into 1-inch squares. Sprinkle the remaining 1/4 cup of sugar evenly over the top and toss the squares in the sugar to completely coat. Store in a covered container at room temperature or refrigerate for up to 2 weeks. (If the pâte de fruit absorbs the sugar coating, just toss the pieces with more sugar before serving.)

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PETIT FOURS

INGREDIENTS (ALMOND POUND CAKE)

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

4 ounces (one stick) unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup ground almonds

2 tablespoons St. Germain liqueur

4 eggs

1 package almond paste

powdered sugar, for rolling

INGREDIENTS (ST. GERMAIN FROSTING)

For About 2 1/4 cups of icing

8 ounces (two sticks) unsalted butter, softened

4 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (approximately 1 pound)

1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

2 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon St. Germain

INGREDIENTS (ROSEWATER GLAZE)

6 cups powdered sugar

1/2 cup milk, approximately

1 teaspoon rosewater

DIRECTIONS

With the rack in the middle position, preheat the oven to 350 °F. Line a loaf pan with parchment paper, letting the paper hang over two sides. Butter the other two sides.

In a bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.

In another bowl, cream the butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add the ground almonds and St. Germain and stir to blend. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating until smooth. On low speed, add the dry ingredients. Spoon the batter into the prepared pan. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the centre of the cake comes out clean. Let cool. Un-mold onto a wire rack and let cool completely.

On a work surface dusted with icing sugar, roll the almond paste into a square about 1-cm (1/2-inch) larger than the cake. With a brush, remove any excess sugar. Cover the top of the cooled cake with the almond paste.

With a sharp knife, cut around the cake to even out the almond paste. Cut the cake into 16 squares. Place on a wire rack over a baking sheet.

DIRECTIONS (ST. GERMAINE FROSTING)

To make the frosting, whip the butter (this is easiest done with an electric mixer) on medium high speed. Turn the speed to low and the confectioner’s sugar, about a 1/2 cup at a time (if you add too much too fast you’ll have a cloud of powdered sugar around your head – not good). Add until all of the sugar if mixed in, then add the vanilla, milk, and elderflower liqueur.  Add more confectioner’s sugar or milk if you need it to be thicker or thinner, respectively.

DIRECTIONS (ROSEWATER GLAZE)

In a bowl, combine all the ingredients with an electric mixer until smooth. Add water, if needed. The mixture should be runny, but thick enough to leave an opaque layer on the cake. Correct the color by adding food coloring, as needed.

With your fingers, hold a cake on its top and bottom sides. With a spoon, drizzle the glaze on the sides of each cake to coat. Place the cakes on the rack and cover the top of the cakes with glaze. Place a few crystallized lilac flowers or dried sprigs of lavender on the petits fours. Let stand for about 30 minutes.

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LAVENDER EARL GREY MADELEINES

INGREDIENTS

For 24 cookies

9 tablespoons (1 stick plus a tablespoon) unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature, plus additional melted butter for preparing the molds

2 large eggs, at room temperature

2/3 cup white sugar

1 large pinch kosher salt

1 teaspoon culinary lavender, lightly ground (I did this in a mortar and pestle)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup plus 1 tablespoon all purpose flour, plus extra for dusting trays

1 teaspoon double acting baking powder

INGREDIENTS (EARL GREY GLAZE)

1 cup powdered sugar

2 teaspoons early grey tea

1/2 cup milk

DIRECTIONS

Brush the indentations of a madeleine mold with melted butter. Dust with flour, tap off any excess, and place in the fridge or freezer. In the bowl of a standing mixer (or with an electric hand mixer), whip the eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla for 5 minutes until pale and thickened.

Whisk together the flour and baking powder. Use a rubber spatula to fold in the flour as you sprinkle it over the batter.  Drizzle the browned butter into the batter, a little at a time, while simultaneously folding to incorporate the butter. Fold just until all the butter is incorporated.

Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. (Batter can be chilled for up to 12 hours.)

To bake the madeleines, preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Plop enough batter in the center of each mold that you think will fill it by 3/4′s (it’s about a tablespoon and a half on my trays). Do not spread it.

Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until the cakes just feel set, (press the cakes lightly with your finger and if it bounces back they’re done. If it stays indented, give it another minute in the oven).

DIRECTIONS (EARL GREY GLAZE)

While the cakes are baking, heat up the milk to a simmer, and add the earl grey tea. Let it steep for about 10 minutes, and strain. Make a glaze in a small mixing bowl by stirring together the powdered sugar, 3 tablespoons of the earl grey milk, a drop of purple food coloring and water until smooth.

Remove from the oven and tilt the madeleines out onto a cooling rack. The moment they’re cool enough to handle, dip each cake in the glaze, turning them over to make sure both sides are coated and scrape off any excess with your finger. After dipping, rest each one back on the cooking rack, scalloped side up, until the cakes are cool and the glaze has firmed up.

Glazed madeleines are best left uncovered and eaten as soon as possible after they’re baked.

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FLORAL INSPIRED AFTERNOON TEA