For me it’s only natural that planning a trip to London gives me cravings for, among other things, tea, amuse-bouches, dainty sandwiches, and miniature desserts. I mean how great is high tea? I love to sit down and catch up with friends and make a meal out of basically a bunch of tapas, British style. I love the whole small bites concept, regardless of cuisine. And I’m looking forward to trying new teas in London. But before I fly across the pond, I wanted to have a little high tea at home. So I hosted one.
It was so fun! I always forget how great high tea is and always wonder why we don’t do it more often here in the US. I can’t put my finger on the reason, but something about it – whether hosting or not – seems so natural, so easy, so much less stressful than a real lunch with several courses. If hosting, it certainly takes some prep to assemble a solid variety, but once you’ve got all the elements ready, you put it on the table and serve everything at once. Easy.
For our tea, I served a lighter menu of open-faced egg salad sandwiches along with several sweets: apple cake (see previous post), brownies, oatmeal cookies, and chocolate chunk scones. I also offered black, green, mint, and peach teas with honey, sugar, and milk.
If I had prepared the apple cake properly (my fault), it would’ve been hands down the best offering. Though delicious, it was just too ugly to be the winner (I’m a firm believer that you really eat with your eyes first). The scones on the other hand were perfection and my guests’ favorite. They were chock full of chocolate, ever so lightly crisp on the edges and tender throughout.
I didn’t change a thing about Fine Cooking’s excellent recipe.
- 9 oz. (2 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1/2 tsp. table salt
- 5-1/2 oz. bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (to yield 1 cup)
- 3 oz. (6 Tbs.) cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 large egg yolks, lightly beaten
- 1 large egg lightly beaten with 1 Tbs. milk for glazing
- 1 to 1-1/2 tsp. granulated sugar
Position an oven rack in the lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 400°F. Line a heavy baking sheet with parchment. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the chopped chocolate, tossing until the pieces are evenly distributed and coated with flour. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two table knives until the largest pieces of butter are about the size of peas.
In a small bowl, stir the cream and egg yolks just to blend. Add this all at once to the flour mixture. Stir with a fork to begin combining the wet and dry ingredients and then use your hands to gently knead the mixture together until all the dry ingredients are absorbed into the dough and it can be gathered into a moist, shaggy ball. Don’t overknead: This dough is sticky but benefits from minimal handling. Set the rough ball in the center of the prepared baking sheet and pat it gently into a round about 1 inch thick and 7 inches in diameter. Don’t be tempted to make the round any flatter.
With a sharp knife or a pastry scraper, cut the round into eight wedges; separate the wedges. Brush the scones with the egg-milk glaze (you won’t need to use all of it) and sprinkle with the sugar. Bake until the scones are deep golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of a wedge comes out clean, 18 to 22 minutes. Slide the parchment onto a rack and let the scones cool for 10 to 15 minutes before serving.