Host an Afternoon “Low Tea” Party
Article courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc.
Following the booming popularity of a certain PBS Masterpiece Classic, English-themed parties are certainly in vogue. How about hosting a traditional afternoon “low tea.” Whether you are inviting sisters, aunts, grandmothers, or friends, a tea is a unique way to make the special women in your life feel like duchesses.
“Not only is hosting a tea a great way to celebrate any occasion, it’s also a way to educate your friends and family on English tradition,” said Beth Nielsen, Chief Culinary Officer of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas, Inc. “In the U.S., we’ve always thought the British had ‘high tea’, but really it is a misnomer. Americans thought ‘high tea’ meant high society, but we misunderstood.”
According to Ellen Easton, author of the book Afternoon Tea ~Tips, Terms and Traditions and a tea consultant to luxury New York City hotels The Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria, it is never correct to use the term ‘high tea’ when referring to the genre of afternoon tea popularized during the Victorian era. “Low tea, better known as afternoon tea, became customary amongst the leisured class in 1840, in ladies’ sitting rooms during the low time of day between 3 and 5 p.m.,” said Easton. “Around 1900, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, laborers had what is actually ‘high tea’ at the high time of day before sunset between 5 and 7 p.m. in pubs on raised tables or at home before returning to work the second factory shift. With this in mind, a ‘low’ afternoon tea is perfect for Mother’s Day, as the tradition was originally created to foster friendships.”
You can share this tidbit and other Downton Abbey-inspired fun facts at a special tea while serving finger-foods such as scones, tea sandwiches and petit fours. Indulging in a bit of British tradition within your own home with these recipes courtesy of Nielsen-Massey Vanillas.
Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to a pot of black tea along with cream or milk for the perfect vanilla-flavored centerpiece to your afternoon.
Cream for the Scones
While Devonshire or clotted cream is a traditional accompaniment to scones, if you prefer a lighter whipped cream, try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to the cream, along with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, before whipping for a sweet, full flavor.
For a lighter dish, pair a teaspoon of fruity and floral Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract with fruit salad for an additional depth of flavor.
Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones
(Yield 1 to 1 ½ dozen)
- 1 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (or Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
- 1 cup (or less) whipping cream
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a bowl; discard the bean. Combine the flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt in a food processor container and process for 10 seconds.
Add equal amounts of the butter in three stages to the dry ingredients and process for 6 to 8 seconds per addition; the dough should have a slightly coarse texture. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
Add the egg, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of the cream and the vanilla seeds. Stir with a fork 10-14 times awhile turning the bowl. Knead five or six times; the dough should hold together. Add enough of the remaining cream to reach the desired consistency if the dough does not hold together or seems dry.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar on a work surface. Turn the dough onto the sugar work surface and knead gently so the dough holds together. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the dough into two discs 1 inch thick and 6 inch to 8 inch in diameter. Cut into wedges. Place the scones on the prepared pans. Brush with the butter. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
A Marcy Goldman BetterBaking.Com Original Recipe for Nielsen-Massey.
Note: To experiment with a different flavor profile, try our Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans. To replace the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, simply use the same amount of the Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans.
Learn more about Nielsen-Massey Vanillas at www.nielsenmassey.com