Sunday, September 19, 2010

Tea Party

      High school takes up so much time. 

There's still room for baking, of course, but very little time for blogging about it! Please excuse the ridiculously long gaps between our posts.
      On a recent afternoon, we catered a birthday tea party for Charlotte's mom. With the help of our friend, Hannah, we whipped up tea sandwiches, deviled eggs, parmesan straws, mini whoopie pies, mini scones, french macarons, petit fours and almond-chocolate biscotti for eleven lovely ladies. We started prepping two days in advance, but it was worth it. Everything came out beautifully! Our favorites from the selection included the filling for the whoopie pies (heavenly!), the puff pastry straws, the strawberry-cucumber sandwiches, the pound cake for the petit fours and the macarons, but everything was enjoyed immensely.

Deviled Eggs
Makes 24

-12 hard-boiled eggs
- About a tablespoon of mayonnaise
- About a teaspoon of Dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper
- Paprika (optional)

  1. Peel the hard-boiled eggs, split each egg in half. Scoop out the egg yolks. 
  2. In a bowl, mix together the yolks, the mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper (to taste). 
  3. Spoon some of the mixture into the egg whites, sprinkle paprika on top. 

Parmesan Puff Pastry Straws
From “Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook”

-1 package frozen puff pastry
- Flour for dusting
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 5 ounces Parmesan cheese (1 ¼ cups)
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten

1.     Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, with a rack in the center. Place the chilled puff pastry on a lightly floured surface. Roll out the dough until it is about 1/8 inch thick, making a 24 x 26-inch piece. Use a sharp knife to trim the edges of the dough; this will help make the straws uniform as they cook. Brush the dough lightly with the melted butter. Sprinkle the dough with ¾ cup of the parmesan and 1 teaspoon of the salt.
2.     With the short side of the dough facing you, fold the dough in half, bringing the top edge down toward you. Brush the surface of the dough with the egg. Sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon salt and ½ cup Parmesan. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough vertically into ½-inch-wide strips. Transfer the strips to the baking pan. Grab each end of the straws, pull and twist.
3.     Bake until golden brown, 10-12 minutes. Remove and let cool for 5 minutes to firm. 

The picture isn't so great, but the straws were absolutely delicious. We had no problem "shortening" some of the longer straws so that they were all closer in height!

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus Tea Sandwiches
From “Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook”

3 large roasted red bell peppers
3 heads of roasted garlic
1 15-ounce can chickpeas (1 ½ cups)
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 tablespoons tahini paste
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
Sandwich bread
  1. Coarsely chop 1 of the peppers. Slice the 2 remaining bell peppers into 1/8 x 1 ½ inch pieces and reserve. Place the chopped pepper into the bowl of a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons of the garlic puree and process until smooth. Add the chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini paste, olive oil and salt. Process until smooth. Transfer to a bowl.
  2. Spread the hummus on the sandwich bread. 
Tapenade and Goat Cheese Tea Sandwiches
Adapted from “Martha Stewart’s Hors D’oeuvres Handbook”

assorted olives
olive oil
lemon juice
salt and pepper
room temperature goat cheese
sandwich bread
  1. In a food processor, add a variety of olives (kalamata olives work well), lemon juice to taste, salt and pepper to taste, one clove of garlic, and olive oil. Blend together, and add olive oil to it until the right texture. 
  2. Spread goat cheese and the tapenade on sandwich bread. 
Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

12 hard boiled eggs
1/2 - 3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup dijon mustard
1 tbsp dill
salt and pepper to taste
sandwich bread
  1. Peel and roughly chop hard boiled eggs.
  2. Toss with mayo, mustard, dill, salt and pepper.
  3. Spoon onto sandwich bread.
Cream Cheese, Strawberry and Cucumber Tea Sandwich

4 ounce(s) of cream cheese, softened
1 Cucumber
8 Strawberries
Kosher Salt
sandwich bread
  1. Thinly slice cucumber and strawberries. 
  2. Layer slices with cream cheese on sandwich bread. 
  3. Season with salt to taste.
Salmon and Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

softened cream cheese
smoked salmon
3-4 radishes
  1. Layer cream cheese, thinly sliced radishes and smoked salmon on sandwich bread. 
Cucumber, strawberry and cream cheese
Charlotte plated the sandwiches beautifully!
We stole this bread "box" idea from Martha Stewart. Those are
tapenade and goat cheese sandwiches in a hollowed out boule of bread. We could have used the bread for sandwiches, but we ate it instead!
More sandwiches on the platter
See that tapenade? It's not the one that we made. Somehow, we lost the olive spread in the jumble of things that needed to be transfered from one house to the other. The tapenade was nowhere to be found in either of our fridges, and we still have not seen it! We were forced to use store bought tapenade.

Chocolate Whoopie Pies with Marshmallow Creme Filling

For the pies:

1 2/3 cups all- purpose flour
2/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon  vanilla extract
1 cup milk
  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift together the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper. In the work bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter, shortening, and browns sugar on low speed until just combined. Increase the speed to medium and beat until fluffy and smooth, about 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat for another 2 minutes.
  3. Add half of the flour mixture and half of the milk to the batter and beat on low until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the remaining flour mixture and 1/2 cup milk and beat until completely combined.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon ice cream scoop, drop the batter onto one of the prepared baking sheets and repeat, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. Bake one sheet a t a time for about 10 minutes each, or until the pies spring back when pressed gently. Remove from the oven and let the cakes cool on the sheet for about 5 minutes before transferring them to a rack to cool completely before filling.
For the filling:

3 large egg whites
2 cups corn syrup
3 cups confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon plus 4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 tablespoons) softened butter
  1. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, combine egg whites, corn syrup and salt. After a few minutes, it will turn white and gooey. 
  2. Add two cups of the confectioner's sugar on low speed to incorporate. Blend in 4 teaspoons of vanilla extract. 
  3. Set aside one and a half cups of this marshmallow fluff. The rest may be saved for other uses in the freezer, where it sets up well. 
  4. In the same bowl, mix the reserved marshmallow fluff with the softened butter, extra tablespoon of vanilla, and last cup of confectioner's sugar until well combined. Store in fridge until ready to spread on whoopies.
Assembling the whoopie pie:

Spread filling onto the flat side of one cake using a knife or spoon. Top with another cake, flat-side down. Repeat with the rest of the cakes and filling.
Alternatively, you can use a pastry bag with a round or star tip to pipe the filling onto the cakes, which will give you a smoother, neater presentation.

French Macarons
Adapted from Tartelette
*The macarons can be made in advance if you make the filling and shells separately and sandwich them the day they are to be served. 

90 grams egg whites (aged, loosely covered at room temperature for 24 hours)
200 grams powdered sugar
25 grams granulated sugar
110 grams almond meal
a dab of gel food coloring (optional)
  1. In your food processor, combine the powdered sugar and almond meal, and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside.
  2. Using a hand mixer or stand mixer, beat the egg whites on medium-high speed until foamy, then gradually add the sugar and beat until a glossy meringue forms. This should take a minute or two on a medium high speed. Tartelette says it should look like shaving cream.
  3. Transfer egg whites into a large bowl, add half of the powdered sugar/almond mixture, and your food coloring. With a rubber spatula, quickly fold the egg whites over themselves to let some of the air out, combining with the almond mixture. Add the rest of the almond mixture and fold gently until your batter has come together, no more than 50 strokes or so. You want a batter that if you let a clump fall off your spatula, it will spread and meld back into itself within ten seconds. If it stands up and does not spread at all, give the batter a few more folds until it does. Test it frequently when you think you are starting to get close to the end product, this will help you to not over mix your batter.
  4. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper or silpats, and spoon batter into a piping bag fitted with a plain round tip (one with a fairly large opening). Pipe 1 1/5 inch rounds, evenly spaced, onto your baking sheet. Once all the macarons have been piped, pick up your baking sheet and drop it lightly on the counter a few times. This impact will bring any air bubbles to the top of the macarons, and help them spread evenly. Let the macarons sit at room temperature for about an hour before baking, to help the shiny shells form.
  5. After the shells have rested, preheat oven to 300 degrees, place on rack in the top third and one in the bottom third of your oven. Bake one pan at a time, starting on the top shelf with an empty pan on the bottom shelf, and after about 10 minutes remove the empty pan and move the shells to the bottom shelf. bake for another 8-10 minutes (depending on the size of your shells), or until fully cooked. Allow the shells to cool completely before removing them from the pan.
Dark Chocolate Ganache-

4 oz dark chocolate, chopped (we used Ghirardelli Bittersweet, 60% cacao)
about 1/4 cup heavy cream (you can adjust the amount to get to the consistency desired)
  1. Place chocolate in a double boiler or heat proof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Make sure the bowl is not touching the water. 
  2. Add heavy cream and stir the mixture until the chocolate melts and the ganache has a thick consistency.
Assembly of Macarons-

Match up shells with partners equal in diameter. Fill a piping bag with chocolate ganache. Pipe a generous dollop of ganache on one shell, then place the other shell on top and press down.

If you've never made macarons before, they can be tricky, but don't shy away from them! We got these right on our second try.
This adorable mini-cupcake tier from Sur la Table was perfect for the macarons!

Mini Blueberry Scones
Adapted from The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook
* Can be made as far in advance as you like. Simply freeze the triangles of dough on a cookie sheet rather than baking them, and then transfer them into a smaller container once they are frozen and will not stick together.

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into thin slices or cubes and chilled
1 pint (2 cups) of fresh or frozen blueberries
1 cup heavy cream
  1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Pulse the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt together in a food processor to combine, about 6 pulses. Scatter the butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few slightly larger butter lumps, about 12 pulses. (Alternatively, you can whisk together the dry ingredients and use two knives in a criss cross motion to mix in the butter)
  2. Transfer the dough to a large bowl. Add the cream and blueberries. Stir together with a rubber spatula. Gently use your hands to combine the mixture into a dough. Try not to burst the berries if you are using fresh blueberries.
  3. Split the dough in half and form two long, skinny rectangles of dough on a cutting board.
  4. Cut each rectangle into small triangles, as shown above. 
  5. Carefully pull apart the triangles and spread them out on a cookie sheet (we needed two). Bake until the scone tops are light brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool for at least 10 minutes so that the scones can harden up a little into their desired texture.

Almond Chocolate Biscotti
Adapted from "The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook" 
*Can be made in advance, as long as you freeze the biscotti after the first baking, and bake for the second time the day you serve the biscotti.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
3/4 cup slivered almonds
2 tablespoons grated orange zest
3/4 cup chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
  3. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, 3 to 6 minutes. Beat in the eggs, one at a time. Then both extracts, until incorporated.
  4. Reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly add in the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the almonds, zest and chocolate chips.
  5. Split the dough in half and press each into a 2 by 13-inch loaf, spaced about 3 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake until the loaves are golden brown and just beginning to crack on top, about 35 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and let cool for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, lower the oven temperature to 325 degrees fahrenheit.
  7. Transfer the loaves to a cutting board using a wide metal spatula.  Slice each loaf into 1/2-inch thick slices using a serrated knife. Arrange the slices with their sides up, on the baking sheet.
  8. Bake until the slices are crisp and golden brown on both sides, about 15 minutes, flipping the slices over halfway through. Transfer the biscotti to a wire rack and let cool completely.

Pound Cake
From Cook's Illustrated
Makes one 9 by 5-inch loaf

16 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
3 large eggs plus 3 large egg yolks
2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups cake flour, plus extra for dusting loaf pan
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups sugar
  1. Cut butter into 1-tablespoon pieces and place in bowl of standing mixer; let stand at room temperature 20 to 30 minutes to soften slightly. Using a dinner fork, beat eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla in liquid measuring cup until combined. 
  2. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 325 degrees fahrenheit. Generously butter 9 by 5-inch loaf pan; dust pan with flour. 
  3. In standing mixer fitted with flat beater, beat butter and salt at medium-high speed until shiny, smooth, and creamy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once with rubber spatula. Reduce speed to medium; with mixer running, gradually pour in the sugar. Once all sugar is added, increase speed to medium-high and beat until mixture is fluffy and almost white in color, 5 to 8 minutes, scraping bottom and sides of bowl once. With mixer running at medium speed, gradually add egg mixture in slow, steady stream. Scrape bottom and sides of bowl; beat mixture at medium-high speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. 
  4. In 3 additions, sift flour over butter/egg mixture; after each addition, fold gently with rubber spatula until combined. Scrape along bottom of bowl to ensure that batter is homogenous. 
  5. Transfer batter to prepared loaf pan and smooth surface with rubber spatula. Bake until golden brown and wooden skewer inserted into center of cake comes out clean, about 70 to 80 minutes. Cool cake in pan on wire rack for 15 minutes; invert cake onto wire rack, then turn cake right side up. Cool cake on rack until room temperature, about 2 hours. Slice and serve.

The pound cake is ready for the oven. We used two pans so that the loaves would be better suited to cut into petit fours. The cake part was fabulous, but we really disliked the icing, so we left that out.

We got our aprons custom made on Etsy.
You can't really make out the black paneled detailing, but they are absolutely adorable!

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