Afternoon Tea for Mother’s Day

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Treat your mother to an exceptional Mother’s Day by hand crafting a special occasion afternoon tea in her honor. Avoid the temptation to buy ready made items for the dessert tray. Mini cupcakes made from a box mix are far superior to anything you can find in the grocery store bakery. Same for scones and truffles. You can buy premade strawberry jam and lemon curd at most food stores. Devonshire cream (Devon cream) can be tricky to find. Check online or at high end specialty stores.

Good quality bread, purchased from a real bakery, is always best.

A tip for keeping your sandwiches fresh: Cover with a barely damp paper towel until you serve. It keeps the bread from drying out on your sandwiches. Also, use a variety of different breads, it makes for a more interesting tasting experience and a more visual pleasing display.

Cut your sandwiches into different shapes, square and rectangles. You can also use circle or star cookie cutters to vary your presentation.

Menu

Scones with lemon curd, strawberry jam and Devonshire (clotted) cream

Cucumber-Dill tea sandwiches

Egg salad tea sandwiches

Caprese tea sandwiches

Strawberry Cream Cheese tea sandwiches

Turkey Brie tea sandwiches

Mini cupcakes

Lemon bars

Truffles

Place scones, sandwiches and desserts on a three-tier serving plate. Serve with hot orange spice tea or Earl Gray tea in pretty teacups.

Cucumber-Dill Tea Sandwiches

4 oz softened cream cheese

2 tbsp. dill weed (or chopped fresh dill)

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients together and then spread onto slices of white bread. Top with 1/4-inch (or thinner) slices of cucumbers. Trim crusts and cut into pieces.

Egg Salad Tea Sandwiches

Spread wheat bread with your favorite egg salad recipe. I make mine with six chopped up hardboiled eggs, 1/2 cup mayonnaise, 1 tsp. Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp. dill week, chives and capers to taste. Trim crusts and cut into four pieces. Trim crusts. Decorate with a slice of green olive with pimento on top.

Caprese Tea Sandwiches

Layer sliced fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and basil on a split focaccia loaf. Add salt, pepper and chopped, jarred artichoke hearts; drizzle with olive oil. Slice into tea sandwich-size portions.

Strawberry Cream Cheese Tea Sandwiches

Spread softened cream cheese on slices of date-nut bread and sandwich with sliced strawberries. Cut sandwiches in half.

Turkey Brie Tea Sandwiches

Spread garlic aioli or mayonnaise on each side of Jewish Rye bread. Place slices of deli turkey and thinly sliced brie on sandwich. Trim crust.

Scones

3 cups flour

1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp. salt

1 tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. baking soda

3/4 cup butter, cold and cubed

1 cup milk

2 large eggs

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. water

Sugar for dusting

Adjust the oven rack to the center position and preheat to 400F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and baking soda.

Add the butter and cut with a pastry cutter or a fork until the butter is the size of large peas.

In a separate bowl whisk together the milk, 1 egg and vanilla.

Add the liquid mixture. Mix until just combined. Don’t over mix.

After mixing place dough on floured surface and divide into two equal parts. Lightly knead into 3/4-inch-thick, 6-inch diameter rounds. Cut each round into 8 wedges and place on baking sheets. Space 2 inches apart.

Bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until lightly browned. After you remove scones from the oven make a glaze. Combine 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar in a small bowl with 2 tbsp. water and 1/2 tsp. vanilla. Add 1 tsp. lemon for a lemon glaze. Pour over scones. Scones are best served warm.

Lemon Bars

1 cup softened butter

1/2 cup powdered sugar

2 cups flour

1/2 tsp. salt

4 eggs

6 tbsp. lemon juice

1 3/4 cup sugar

1/3 cup flour

Powdered sugar for dusting

Mix butter, powdered sugar, flour and salt together with a pastry cutter. Pat mixture into a greased 9×13 pan.

Bake for 20 minutes at 375F. Do not let pastry get brown.

Blend eggs, lemon juice, sugar and flour until frothy, about 30 seconds. Pour over cooled crust. Bake for 20 minutes at 350F.

Remove from oven and dust with powdered sugar.

Dark Chocolate Truffles

1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

3 tbsp. butter

1 2/3 cups (10-oz. pkg.) dark chocolate chips

1 tsp. vanilla

2-3 tablespoons liqueur, optional

Line baking sheet with parchment or wax paper.

Heat cream and butter to a gentle boil in medium, heavy-duty saucepan. Remove from heat. Add chocolate. Stir until mixture is smooth and chocolate is melted. Add vanilla. If desired, add liqueur to taste (Kahlua, Crème de Menthe, Grand Mariner or other). Refrigerate for 15 to 20 minutes or until slightly thickened.

Drop chocolate mixture by rounded teaspoon onto prepared baking sheet. Refrigerate for 20 minutes. Shape or roll into balls.

Roll your finished truffles in finely chopped toasted nuts, colorful sprinkles, toffee bits, toasted flaked coconut, powdered sugar and/or baking cocoa until fully coated. Store in airtight container in refrigerator.

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