May 20, 2013

Mother's Day Tea

 For once I am actually NOT going to write about sewing! Today I'm going to be showing off my Mother's Day Tea that I put together. Also known as, "Kelsie Gets Way Too Obsessive Over Her Projects" Day.

My original plan was to go to Hackett House with my mother and grandmother, but they were no longer selling tickets for their Mother’s Day tea. Next I went to the Biltmore and heavily examined their menu to ensure they had a "proper" afternoon tea, and not just tea and pb&j or some other nonsense. They did, but were also sold out. All other afternoon tea places in the area were either booked or closed. I would not give up on my idea, so decided: Hey, I can cook. I can brew tea! I'll throw my OWN tea party!

I crafted a menu, planned the color theme, and got all the decorations and dishes a month before Mother's Day. The day arrived and I cooked like a crazy, singing fiend (because when I spend longer than ten minutes in a kitchen I need an ipod attached to me). And magically, nothing went wrong...well except for the cooking not being done quite on time. BUT-- I successfully made food, and it was tasty. I'm counting that as a win.

So because I am not a very cook, I am going to detail a few of the harder projects, and perhaps I can help a few not very good cooks who are trying to make the same things!

Clotted Cream:

Firstly, and what I was most excited to make, CLOTTED CREAM! When I went to England I was introduced to this decadent loveliness, and I fell in love. Growing up I had eaten scones, but in America we eat them with lemon curd, Devonshire cream (the American version…not the version from Devon), and jam. Let me tell you, Devonshire cream cannot hold a candle to clotted cream. Clotted cream is like sweet, delicious butter, while Devonshire Cream is like whipped cream with extra, extra sugar. Tasty, but completely different than the real deal. However, clotted cream is a bit more disgusting to contemplate making. How to make? Take organic whipping cream (I used the brand Straus Family, which I bought at Whole Foods), pour it into a pan and put it in the oven on the oven’s lowest setting.

Wait. An hour. Scrape the gloop off the top.

Wait another hour. Scrape.

And repeat for several hours until all of the cream is gone. Refrigerate overnight, and VOILA!

Ew? I mean, yum? I mean….it’s confusing, because that sounds absolutely disgusting. But spread on a scone and topped with jam? Pure magic, folks. MAGIC.

Royal Icing:

Next I would like to talk about icing. Let me just say, I hate icing. It hates me. No matter how “easy” the recipe is, I manage to kill it. Last time I tried to make buttercream frosting it went so terribly wrong that according to yahoo answers I had both over stirred and not stirred enough!
(So what do you do then?! You throw it out and use the damn canned stuff!!)

But this time?! This time I conquered the icing. I hooked it up to my Baking Chariot and whipped it into submission! I made little teacup shaped cookies by using an Easter egg cookie cutter and a lower case ‘c’ cookie cutter. Slightly finagled, but hey, it worked! Anyway, I wanted to paint on the cookies, which meant that I needed to put Royal Icing on them. So basically, Royal Icing is lots of egg whites, powdered sugar, and vanilla flavoring. And then you whip it to DEATH.

In all the posts on Google people explained that if the icing looked like “Molten Lava” it was done. This drove me crazy. I mean, who has honestly SEEN molten lava?! I have been on an inactive volcano, and seen lava on TV, but that is about it! Regardless, I had a rather thick soup of icing and was near throwing it out and starting again when I realized I had no more eggs left to make another batch. So frustrated and defeated, I took a knife and started spreading it onto the cookies…and MAGIC, it started hardening! It just needed some spreading and some time to be “right”.

The most important thing I learned about Royal Icing is how to make it look smooth. Water. Water is the secret. After spreading the icing onto your cookie, you wait for it to mostly dry, then take a finger and dip it in water. Then use your wet finger to brush out any lumps…very carefully.


Little French delicacies that melt in your mouth and look oh so pretty on a plate. I hardcore researched these little devils before attempting them, because I had read that they were evil to get right. And hey…the millions who have tried to make them before me were RIGHT. They are EVIL. Delicious, but evil.

First off, I would like to point out that all of the blogs I read were going on and on about how the hardest part is getting them to form “feet”. Well what the heck are FEET doing on a pastry?! Is my “I’m-not-a-baker-in-any-way-shape-or-form” showing yet? After a bit more searching I found out that feet are the ruffled edge…so okay, no ruffled edge, bad. Ruffled edge, good. Got it.

Anyway, my macaroons did not form feet. Which was one problem. Another problem was the sifting of the almond meal. Most tedious, frustrating thing I have EVER had to do. I literally spent over 45 minutes sifting that evil almond meal. And some of it wouldn’t finish being sifted! So I threw it in the blender to make it smaller, like a Google post suggested. BAD IDEA. It basically turned it into almond paste. Too moist to sift. Highly irritating. But I would not be intimidated by this! And at this point I had roughly an hour to finish all my baking before guests arrived…there was no time to start over. I piped those suckers onto a cookie sheet (nonstick of course) and stuck them in the oven. Although they looked sad, they tasted delicious with Nutella in some and raspberry jam in others.

All in all it was a wonderful day with great food and company. Here are some of the pictures we took before ravenously falling upon the food:

If anyone is interested in seeing the recipes for anything, just comment and I will post them. As always, thank you for stopping by and feel free to leave any comments or questions! I love to hear from my readers.


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