“There are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.”
When an author of Henry James’ stature says that, it would be foolish to disagree, so when we discovered the date of this year’s annual afternoon tea, we couldn’t wait to start cooking.
But before you get the recipes (yes, we are spoiling you with three this time!), let’s start with a bit of history (hey, at least it shows the research we put into out blogs!).
Afternoon tea was apparently introduced in England by Anna, the seventh Duchess of Bedford, in the year 1840. The Duchess would become hungry around four o’clock in the afternoon. The evening meal in her household was served fashionably late at eight o’clock, thus leaving a long period of time between lunch and dinner.
The Duchess therefore asked that a tray of tea, bread and butter and cake be brought to her room during the late afternoon. This became a habit of hers and she began inviting friends to join her.
It obviously caught on because in the late 1880s, upper-class and society women would change into long gowns, gloves and hats for their afternoon tea which was usually served in the drawing room between four and five o’clock.
Whilst it’s never really gone away, afternoon tea has made a real resurgence in recent years and you don’t have to go far to get one. There are different variations of course and in our experience the cake to sandwich ratio tends to be 70:30, but that’s no bad thing given we have very sweet tooth, as demonstrated by the following recipes. Enjoy!
Dark & milk chocolate tiramisu truffles
• 100g milk chocolate
• 200g dark chocolate
• 3 1/3 oz vanilla pudding mix
• 24 sponge fingers
• 6oz coffee hot
• 1tbsp expresso powder
• 80z mascarpone cheese
- Place 100g of the dark chocolate in a small bowl. Pour freshly brewed coffee over the chocolate and stir until melted.
- Place the sponge fingers in a sealed bag and breakdown into small pieces with a rolling pin. In a large mixing bowl mix together the sponge fingers, vanilla pudding mix, expresso powder, melted chocolate and mascarpone cheese.
- Use a scoop for the mixture and place on silicone paper and freeze for 15min until firm.
- Place the remaining chocolate in the microwave for 75 sec and stir every 30 seconds (use 2 separate bowls 100g of the milk and 100g of the dark).
- Remove the truffles from the freezer and coat in the melted chocolate, place these on a baking tray dust with icing sugar and serve.
Milk chocolate dipped strawberries with a white chocolate finish
- 200g fresh strawberries
- 200g milk chocolate
- 100g white chocolate
- 285ml double cream
- Wash the strawberries and dry off well then melt the milk chocolate in a bowl.
- Once the chocolate has melted place the strawberry in the chocolate looking to coat ¾ of the strawberry still keeping the green clearly visible and place on a flat tray with silicone paper, allow to set in the fridge for 10min.
- Next heat up the white chocolate in a separate bowl. Once melted take the strawberries out of the fridge and with a fork dip in the white chocolate and quickly flick this over the strawberries to create faint lines.
- Again allow to set in the fridge for 5min and use any left over milk chocolate in a separate bowl and whip the double cream in a bowl as a extra accompaniment.
- 110g butter
- 150g plain flour, sifted
- 4 eggs beaten with a pinch of salt
- 200g dark chocolate
- 285ml double cream
- Icing sugar
- Vanilla essence
- Put the butter and 300ml of water in a saucepan. Heat gently until the butter has melted, then bring to the boil. As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat and quickly tip in the flour all at once. Beat with a wooden spoon until the ingredients bind together to form a dough.
- Return the pan to a low heat and continue to beat until the dough is a smooth, dry ball in the centre of the pan.
- Allow to cool for 5min, then gradually beat in the eggs to make a smooth, shiny paste. Beat vigorously. The dough must be used straightaway.
- Pipe the mixture onto a silicone matt about 10cm and place into an oven @ 200 degrees for 20min turn down the heat to 150 and cook for a further 10/15min.
- While these are in the oven melt the dark chocolate, place a small pan of water bring to the boil and place a metal bowl over the pan with the chocolate in.
- Use the double cream with a tablespoon of icing sugar and 3 drops of the vanilla essence, place all in a mixer and whip together until stiff.
- Place the pastry when cooked onto a wire rack and allow to cool. Once cool cut the pastry into half length ways use the top to coat in the chocolate and place on the wire rack place in the fridge for a few minutes and allow to set.
- Place in a piping bag with a star nozzle and fill the other half of the choux pastry place the chocolate top on the cream and dust with icing sugar and serve