These Custard Sandwich Cookies bear some resemblance to those that many know as Melting Moments, my recipe for which can be found here. The primary difference between these Custard Sandwich Cookies and Melting Moments is that the latter contains cornstarch giving the cookies what is commonly known as a “short”, ever-so-slightly crisp, texture while the Custard Sandwich Cookies contain vanilla custard powder that gives them a wonderful soft, creamy, and slightly crumbly texture as well as additional flavor and a more yellowish color. Continue reading Custard Sandwich Cookies Recipe
As I write this post, it’s autumn – the days are shorter and cooler and leaves are off the trees, all signs that winter on PEI is not far off. This time of the year always makes me think of warm and cozy teas leisurely enjoyed in front of the fireplace.
My late day event today is what I’m calling a “savoury tea” – which, because of my menu choices, most closely resembles (but is not quite) a “high tea”. I’m drawing the menu from previous postings to my food blog so those interested in the food items can access my recipes by clicking on the hotlinks throughout this posting.
Some people refer to the traditional afternoon tea of dainty (and always crustless) sandwiches, scones, and an array of sweets as “high tea” (which it isn’t). I’m not sure why this happens – perhaps it is because the food is often served on a tall (hence “high”) three-tier server (pictured below), or curate stand, along with fancy cups and saucers on the table or it may be because the mere mention of afternoon tea evokes the notion that it is a “high” society event. In any event there is a distinction between a “high tea” and an “afternoon tea” (the latter sometimes referred to as a “low tea”).
Originally, afternoon teas consisted of light refreshments served on low tables like coffee tables, for example. The idea of an afternoon tea was to have some refreshments, mid-afternoon, to counter the sluggishness often experienced in the afternoon and to stave off the hunger until dinner was served later in the evening. Partakers would often be seated in comfy armchairs as opposed to formal dining chairs and would use the low tables upon which to set their cup and saucer and refreshments. In fact, some high-end hotels in London serve afternoon tea in the surroundings of their lobbies and, indeed, comfortable armchairs and sofas are still used along with low coffee tables. Today, however, the traditional afternoon tea is most often served at regular height tables. What characterizes a traditional afternoon tea are crustless finger sandwiches, scones, sweets and, of course, tea.
High tea, on the other hand, is more like a light supper featuring hot menu items which are most frequently served at a regular height table. Foods denoting a high tea might include egg dishes like quiches, and/or dishes that include meat and fish. Bread or biscuits would most commonly be served but less likely sandwiches if hot savoury dishes are part of the menu. And, of course, there would indeed be tea! High teas, then, tend to be comprised of more substantial fare and are typically served later in the afternoon or early evening as in the case of mine today. For those who watch the British soap opera, Coronation Street, you’ll often hear the characters invite others “round for tea” – it’s “high tea” or supper they are referring to in this context. (Yes, I’m a “Corrie” fan!)
Because of the choice of menu items I am serving, my savoury tea is, therefore, most similar (but not quite identical) to a “high tea” versus an “afternoon tea”.
I was fortunate enough to find an antique Gibbard tea trolley, in relatively decent condition, a few years ago and it is, indeed, handy. I love to use it for displays in my dining room and, because it has a double drop leaf, it often serves as my tea table when it is just tea for two. It’s the perfect size to hold all the tea elements and is easily wheeled to whatever location in the house I choose for the tea. (I am still on the hunt for a Roxton maple tea trolley in excellent condition to match my dining room set so, if anyone on PEI has one they are interested in parting with, or knows someone who does, please get in touch!)
The tablecloth square on my tea table is one I bought in Burano on my last trip to Italy. Yes, when I’m looking for mementos of trips, my interests usually veer toward tabletop items and foods local to the area!
Napkin folds for tea tables tend to lean toward basic, classic designs, much like the simple triangular fold I’ve chosen here. Most often, the folds tend to be flat designs as opposed to stand-up folds and the napkins are usually plain in color.
I like to include fresh flowers on my tea tables. They don’t have to be anything more elaborate than a simple bouquet of mini carnations. The arrangement, however, does need to be proportionately sized. Floral arrangements for tea tables are typically quite small, especially if it is a tea table set for two. Using a single color and variety of flower keeps the look simple and uncluttered.
Dishes and Glassware
Sometimes, it’s nice to use a formal tea set or pieces from formal china for tea settings. Matching pieces do lend an air of formality and cohesiveness to the setting. However, it’s totally acceptable to have a mix of dishes on the tea table so long as they coordinate in style and color.
Always use small tea-sized plates, or supper plates, for tea events. Small portions of food characteristic of tea fare just look better on small plates as the food does not appear so minuscule and “lost” as it would on a large dinner plate, for example. These pink design plates were a thrift shop find.
From my collection, I have simply chosen two different teacups and saucers that I particularly like. They both have pink designs to compliment the plates.
Both cups have wonderful designs inside and outside.
The teapot, a Sadler, also has a pink theme. The pink shades coordinate with the salmon pink shade highlighted in the tablecloth.
I found these little pedestal glasses with cranberry trim at a second-hand shop and knew they would be perfectly sized for tea tables. They lend an air of elegance and color to the table.
I adore my three-tier servers! They give an air of elegance and sophistication to any tea table. Plus, they are super useful and an efficient way to serve the food. All the food items can be brought to the table at once on one unit, taking up less space as tea tables tend to be small and compact. Sandwiches/savoury items go on the bottom tier, scones/biscuits on the middle tier, followed by the tempting sweet treats on the top tier.
So, here is what is on my five-course savoury tea menu.
~ Starter ~
Cream of Roasted Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese Squares
~ Savoury ~
Baked Stuffed Fingerlings
Mini Lobster Cakes
~ Biscuits ~
Biscuits served with lemon curd and preserves
~ Sweet Offerings ~
Dark and Light Fruitcake
Frypan Cookie Balls
Gluten Free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread
Gluten Free Melting Moments
~ Dessert ~
Luscious Lemon Curd Tartlets
~ Tea ~
Fortnum and Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend
The traditional order in which to consume tea foods are sandwiches/savouries first, followed by the scones/biscuits, and ending with the sweets. So, let’s take a closer look at the menu items.
For the starter course, I’m serving my homemade cream of roasted tomato soup with tiny squares of grilled cheese.
In keeping with the small portion size conducive to tea serving size, I’m serving the soup in small soup cups and threading the grilled cheese squares on to a skewer.
For the savoury course, I have selected three hot items – mini harvest quiches, baked stuffed fingerlings, and mini lobster cakes. By clicking on the foregoing hotlinks, you can access my recipes. I will often plan ahead for tea events when I am doing my batch cooking for the freezer. In this case, I made some mini quiches and lobster cakes earlier and had them frozen. This allows me to add some variety to my tea events that I probably might not otherwise have if I had to mix up special small batches especially for a tea event.
The fingerlings are stuffed with sausage, cheese, tomato sauce, and seasonings and are tasty little bites.
Living on PEI, lobster fishing is one of our main fisheries so, naturally, I am going to include it in some fashion on my menu. The small lobster cakes are served with a small dob of sour cream.
Keep the size portions small – they can be the same size as appetizers/hors d’oeuvres or very slightly larger. For example, I use the small individual tart shells for the mini quiches because I like the look of a complete, uncut quiche for each serving. If using pieces cut from a larger quiche, I recommend making the quiche in a small quiche/pie plate 6” – 8” in diameter, no larger.
Because this is a savoury tea, I am swapping out the traditional scones associated with afternoon tea and am replacing them with biscuits. I currently have two biscuit recipes on my food blog – classic tea biscuits and whole wheat biscuits. Either works well with this type of tea.
Biscuits are less sweet and rich than scones and I think they go better with my savoury tea. That doesn’t mean, however, that lemon curd and preserves can’t be enjoyed with biscuits! It’s a great way to transition the palate from the savoury course to the sweets!
I have made a batch of my lemon curd to enjoy with the biscuits. Sometimes, I will use small dishes for the preserves but, if I have the small jars, I will often use them because I like the look of the tiny jars clustered together on a server plate!
Fruitcake is often (but not always) found on tea tables. I am including both my light fruitcake and dark fruitcake, cut into small pieces. Fruitcakes are rich and are best served in small pieces (and they go particularly well with a fine cup of tea). Two kinds of cookies – Gluten Free Earl Grey Cranberry-Orange Shortbread and Gluten Free Melting Moments are also included along with Frypan Cookie Balls.
This is an optional course because, really, the sweets themselves are generally sufficient. However, a nice touch is to add one special signature dessert. With my fresh batch of lemon curd, a luscious lemon curd tartlet was an obvious choice. I added some bright red raspberries for contrast along with a sprig of greenery.
My tea selection is one of my personal all-time favorites – Fortnum & Mason’s “Afternoon Tea” blend which I brought home from my latest trip to London. When in London, I always try to make time for a stop at Fortnum & Mason’s flagship store on Piccadilly to browse through their food halls and to pick up some of their tea. This tea from Ceylon is crisp and refreshing yet full bodied so it goes equally well with a savoury tea as it does with a traditional afternoon tea.
I thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to go out for afternoon tea but, unfortunately, where I live, there are no restaurants or hotels that offer this option. I think that’s why, when I’m in London, I allot time for 1-2 afternoon teas which are always a highlight of my visits. I often agonize over which ones to choose because there are so many wonderful options. I have written postings on three I particularly enjoyed and you can access those by clicking on the following links: Afternoon Tea in London and “Scents of Summer” Afternoon Tea in London.
Tea time can be elaborate or simplified and, with some planning, can be made in to an event for entertaining family and friends at home. You’ll find inspiration for tea events of all sorts here on my blog. Simply go to the “Afternoon Teas” menu or type “Afternoon Tea” in the search box on the home page.
These gluten-free melting moments cookies prove that being on a gluten-free diet does not mean one has to compromise on favorite sweet treats!
I use a 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour, such as Bob’s Red Mills brand, for these cookies. I also add a small amount of very finely ground almonds to the batter as this lends a tenderness to the cookie crumb which justifies the name of the cookies because they do melt in the mouth!
These cookies are very easy to make. Mix up the dough. Pinch off small amounts of the dough and form into small balls. Place on parchment-lined baking sheets and flatten with the tines of a fork. Bake. It’s really no more complicated than that!
[Printable recipe follows at end of posting]
Gluten-Free Melting Moments
½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
¼ cup icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
¼ tsp pure vanilla
½ cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
¼ cup finely ground almonds
¼ cup cornstarch
Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Cream butter. Add the icing sugar and cream well with the butter. Mix in vanilla.
In separate bowl, whisk the flour, ground almonds, and cornstarch together. Add to the creamed mixture and blend until well incorporated.
Form dough into small round balls (apx. 5/8 oz dough per ball). Place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2“ apart, and flatten each ball with the tines of a fork. Decorate with small bits of maraschino cherries, if desired.
Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, just until edges of cookies start to tint a golden tan color. Don’t over-bake. Let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: Apx. 1½ dozen cookies
These melt-in-your-mouth gluten-free melting moments cookies have a tender crumb and delicate butter and almond flavor.
- ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
- ¼ cup icing sugar (aka confectioner’s sugar or powdered sugar)
- ¼ tsp pure vanilla
- ½ cup 1-to-1 gluten-free baking flour
- ¼ cup finely ground almonds
- ¼ cup cornstarch
- Preheat oven to 325°F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper
- Cream butter. Add the icing sugar and cream well with the butter. Mix in vanilla.
- In separate bowl, whisk the flour, ground almonds, and cornstarch together. Add to the creamed mixture and blend until well incorporated.
- Form dough into small round balls (apx. 5/8 oz dough per ball). Place balls on prepared baking sheets, about 2“ apart, and flatten each ball with the tines of a fork. Decorate with small bits of maraschino cherries, if desired.
- Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes, just until edges of cookies start to tint a golden tan color. Don’t over-bake. Let cool on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes then transfer cookies to wire rack to cool completely.
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For other tasty gluten-free cookie recipes, click on the links below:
How can a cookie with only 6 simple ingredients taste this good!!! Well, they’re not called Marvelous Melting Moments without good reason. One bite of these sweet temptations and, from the rich, tender crumb of the cookie, you’ll find they quickly melt in your mouth. Continue reading Marvelous Melting Moments Recipe
Today, I am joining Sandi at Rose Chintz Cottage who is hosting an Anne of Green Gables-themed afternoon tea. Many of you will, undoubtedly, associate both Anne and Lucy Maud Montgomery, the famed Island authoress of the “Anne” series of books, with Prince Edward Island. As many of you will already know, Lucy Maud was an Islander and she set her fictional story about the little orphan, Anne, on PEI.
To the extent possible, I have tried to include elements in the tea that Anne and her bosom friend, Diana, would have had at the afternoon tea that Lucy Maud Montgomery wrote about in chapter XVI in the “Anne of Green Gables” book: Raspberry cordial, cherry preserves, fruit cake, cookies, snaps, and tea.
I visited the Anne of Green Gables store in downtown Charlottetown this morning and picked up some raspberry cordial for the tea.
The other featured Island-made product at my tea today is the “Very Berry Cherry” jam produced by the Prince Edward Island Preserve Company in New Glasgow, PEI.
While biscuits weren’t mentioned as part of the menu for the tea in the “Anne” story, I’d be surprised if they were not standard fare at an afternoon tea of that era, particularly when preserves were included. Homemade biscuits are still a very common staple today in many Island households, mine included. Therefore, I have chosen to serve my homemade biscuits with the cherry jam.
I always tuck away a piece of my Christmas fruit cake in the freezer. It is such a treat in late summer or early fall. It made its way on to the tea table today along with some freshly made gingersnaps and melting moments, all of which would have been quite common tea fare back in the early 1900s when L.M. Montgomery was penning the “Anne” books. As I went through some of my ancestors’ hand-written recipe books, these were indeed items they had recipes for in their collections.
And, of course, the guest of honour would have to be Anne, herself! My mother gave me this collector’s doll for Christmas several years ago.
Anne looks like she might be eyeing those biscuits….perhaps it is time to eat.
This afternoon’s tea is Orange Pekoe and it is being served from my pretty pink and yellow rose Sadler teapot.
I am not sure Marilla would have trusted Anne and Diana with these delicate teacups but these were my choices from my teacup collection for today’s event. The one below is Royal Albert Sunnyside Series and is called “Petula”. I love the exquisite and elegant shape of the cup.
The beautiful cup and saucer below is also Royal Albert, Reverie Series.
Warm biscuits, not too many minutes out of the oven, are always so tasty!
And, with fresh creamery butter and a good slather of cherry jam, they melt in the mouth!
It’s hard to stop at just one homemade biscuit and jam!
Some fresh cherries before checking out the sweet tray.
Now, which will I try first? The fruitcake? A ginger snap? A melting moment?
Also on the tea table this afternoon is a Third Impression August 1908 version of the “Anne of Green Gables” book. A great conversation piece.
I hope you have enjoyed coming along on my Anne-themed afternoon tea.
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