Tea Party, Take Two

A little over  a year ago, I started this blog.  Soon after that, I held a tea party.

I love teapots.  I love tea.  And I loooove tea parties.  My girlfriends and I sit around, chatting about our lives, drinking mimosas, and eating mini-foods.  Food is so much better when it’s mini.

Don't we all look happy?  It's the mini foods.  No one can be sad when they're eating mini foods!

Don’t we all look happy? It’s the mini foods. No one can be sad when they’re eating mini foods!

As the day of my party approached, I was having trouble coming up with a menu.  I wanted something different. Something special.  And something mini.  It had to be mini.

One day while taking a little break at work, I came across an article in People magazine that described a luncheon hosted by the Queen and attended by everyone’s favorite “it” girl, Kate.  (Kate was apparently wearing a $2000 pink coat dress made from double crepe wool and was seen chatting with Wills and Harry.)

At this luncheon, the Queen (or rather, her staff) served “new season Windsor lamb with braised potatoes and vegetables.”  Now, I’m not sure what makes a lamb “Windsor”, but whenever I think of eating lamb, I hear adorable bleating noises in my head and picture the cute baby lamb ceramic piece painted by my great grandmother that we used to play with when we were kids.  Lamb is not on my personal menu.

Besides, lamb is not mini.

Luckily, the Queen also served asparagus tartlets, vanilla charlotte and strawberries.  Perfect!

So, our menu:

The Queen’s Asparagus Tartlets
Mini Vanilla “Charlottes”
Strawberries with Mint Whipped Cream
Turkey, Goat Cheese, Raspberry, and Caramelized Onion Pinwheels
Erin’s Cucumber Carpaccio
Erin’s “Healthy” Peanut Butter Balls
Annemarie’s Lemon Bars
And a huge assortment of hummus and chips, cookies, scones, cupcakes, girly drinks and some tea that almost nobody drank.

So much pretty, pretty food.  Who could resist?

So much pretty, pretty food. Who could resist?

A few hours later, I was absolutely stuffed and my recycle bin was overflowing with empty champagne bottles. My furniture was all in the wrong place. And I had a huge pile of leftover goodies in my kitchen. Basically, it was a job well done.

I couldn't resist the bird's eye view of my coffee table.  Amazing, right?

I couldn’t resist the bird’s eye view of my coffee table. Amazing, right?

All washed and ready for next time!

All washed and ready for next time!

I’m making a tweak or two to the Asparagus Tartlets before I’ll share that recipe. So, let’s talk about those Vanilla “Charlottes”, shall we?

I’ll admit. I had to look up the word “charlotte” on google.  Wowza.  Those look difficult.  Turns out, a charlotte is a cake with ladyfingers arranged on the outside and a custard filling on the inside.  They’re often topped with fruit and whipped cream.  They’re gorgeous.  They look difficult.  And they’re definitely not mini.

So, I had to come up with something charlotte-like.  Hence…

Mini Vanilla “Charlottes” with Ladyfinger and Pistachio Crust

1 1/4 cup ladyfingers – crushed in the food processor
1/4 cup finely chopped pistachios
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons butter – melted
1 – 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk (I used low fat. Why not?)
2 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla (or one scraped vanilla bean, if you have it!)
Raspberries and whipped cream for garnish

In a small bowl, mix together ladyfingers, pistachios, butter, and sugar.  Press scant 1/2 tablespoon of mixture into each cup of a well greased mini muffin pan.  Bake at 350 for 10 minutes or until golden.  Chill.

Mix together condensed milk, egg yolks, and vanilla.  Spoon on top of cooled crusts.  Bake at 325 for 14 minutes, until mostly set.  Chill one hour.

Remove from fridge at least 5 minutes before plating.  Run a knife along the outer edge of each cake, until it pops out.  Top with whipped cream and a single raspberry.

These are so rich and yummy.  I cooked mine a little dark, but everyone agreed that the unintentional caramelization really added to the flavor.  As you might be able to tell from the photos above, I’ve been practicing my food styling.  Still, my favorite photo of these little beauties was taken in the middle of the tea.  While we were chatting and drinking mimosas, I looked over at the last charlotte on my plate, off set by the mint sprig from my Strawberries and Mint Cream cup and Annemarie’s polka dot dress.  It’s still my favorite.  What do you think?

Messy.  Underexposed.  Not at all styled.  Taken quickly with my iPhone.  Sometimes the best photos take the least amount of work!

Messy. Underexposed. Not at all styled. Taken quickly with my iPhone. Sometimes the best photos take the least amount of work!

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