Tea, A Drink With Jam and Bread

Like fish n' chips or Marmite, afternoon tea is primarily of British origin. Technically speaking, there are actually several varieties of "tea":

Afternoon tea: Usually taken between 3 and 5 pm, afternoon tea is considered one of the fancier, more "proper" versions. Offerings usually include sandwiches (small, crusts off, and with fillings such as cucumber or smoked salmon), scones, and pastries. These are presented on tiered serving dishes and accompanied (of course) by brewed loose leaf tea, milk and sugar.

Cream tea: A little simpler; tea is served with scones, Devonshire cream, and jam.

High tea: Served between 5 and 6 pm, tea (the meal) is considered an informal combination of afternoon tea and dinner. Tea (the drink) is accompanied by meat, cakes, and sandwiches.

I would also like to add to the list, "Strawberry Tea." In elementary school, we used to have Strawberry Teas on Mother's Day. The menu included chocolate dipped strawberries and fizzy pink raspberry ginger ale. It was all very girly and, well, pink.

These recipes were not prepared for a Strawberry Tea, rather a typical afternoon tea. I whipped up some biscotti and scones to go with the tea and sandwiches. Yes, biscotti is supposed to be dunked in coffee, or dessert wine, but these are so delicious I didn't see why we couldn't have them with tea. This recipe makes deep, dark, cocoa-laden cookies that aren't so hard that if you nibbled on one without coffee you'd chip a tooth.

The dough stays together well and is very nice to work with. Just remember to let it cool for 10 minutes before slicing it; I used a large chef's knife and cut straight down. I did not use any whole nuts because I didn't want the cookies to crumble when I cut them.

These orange-scented scones are dressed for the occasion in a sparkly coarse sugar crust. I cut the butter into the dry ingredients and then tossed it, bowl and all, into the freezer for 10 minutes. Cold butter melts slower in the oven, and this assures a very flaky scone.

Afternoon tea is a simple, brilliant idea. The beauty of it all is that everything just goes together so incredibly well. The warm, fragrant silkiness of the tea marries with the various buttery, soft and sweet treats. I also think that sandwiches or other savory items are a must so that guests aren't overwhelmed by a sugar rush.

Take some time one day for a treat and a cup of tea (extended pinkie placement, optional). You'll be glad you did.

Chocolate Biscotti

Yield: 30


  • 1/3 cup (75 g) butter, softened
  • 2/3 cup (130 g) white sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (230 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup (30 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 egg yolk, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon water


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). Grease baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time, then stir in the vanilla. Combine the flour, cocoa and baking powder; stir into the creamed mixture until well blended. Dough will be stiff, so mix in the last bit by hand. Mix in the chocolate chips and walnuts.
  3. Divide dough into two equal parts. Shape into 9x2x1 inch loaves. Place onto baking sheet 4 inches apart. Brush with mixture of water and yolk.
  4. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, or until firm. Cool on baking sheet for 30 minutes.
  5. Using a serrated knife, slice the loaves diagonally into 1 inch slices. Return the slices to the baking sheet, placing them on their sides. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes on each side, or until dry. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.
Cranberry Orange Scones
Yield: 14-16


  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.
Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Biscotti recipe courtesy of PA Granny
Scone recipe courtesy of Ina Garten and foodtv.com
Image property of beetsandbites

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