Create a Valentine’s party to remember for your children by hosting a Valentine’s Tea. The kids will enjoy the sweet treats and decorated table, not even realizing that all the while they are practicing important social skills such as making conversation and minding their manners.
Set the scene by creating handmade invitations with your child to give to guests. The kids can write out the details of the party on large hearts cut out of construction or scrapbook paper. Invitations help set the tone of the party and your child can also create table decorations such as place cards or place mats with the leftover invitation paper. Traditionally there are three components to the tea fare: scones, finger sandwiches, and dessert. Craft stores and specialty cooking stores sell large heart-shaped cookie cutters that are ideal for shaping the scones as well as removing the crusts for the finger sandwiches for this day.
Finger Sandwiches with Homemade Jam
Making refrigerator jam is simple yet adds an oh-so-special touch to the ubiquitous pb&j sandwich.
To make the sandwich you will need:
- 20 pieces of bread (10 white and 10 whole wheat)
- Peanut butter
- Unsalted butter at room temperature
- Strawberry jam (see recipe below)
Lay the five pieces of white bread on a cutting board. Spread the bread slice with either butter or peanut butter, and then spread all the slices with the homemade jam. Top each with a slice of wheat bread, and cut off the crusts with the heart-shaped cooking cutter. Arrange on a platter in a checkerboard pattern, alternating wheat and white facing up. Cover with damp paper towels until ready to serve as these sandwiches will dry out quickly.
To make the jam you will need:
- 1 ten-ounce bag of organic whole frozen strawberries, thawed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed Meyer lemon
Place all the ingredients into a food processor and pulse until the berries are mashed and the ingredients are incorporated.
Pour the berry mixture into a large heavy-bottomed saucepan. Stir over low heat until the sugar has dissolved. Raise the heat to high, stirring occasionally, until the mixture begins to boil. Allow to boil for several minutes, stirring constantly, until the jam has thickened.
Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Pour into a bowl and refrigerate until ready to use.
Chocolate Chip Scones
What you need:
- 2 cups flour
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 sticks cold unsalted butter, diced
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup cold heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 3/4 cup chocolate chips
- 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon cream for egg wash.
- Extra sugar for egg wash
What you do:
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add the cold butter and mix on low speed until the butter is the size of peas.
- Combine the eggs, cream and vanilla and slowly add to the flour mixture while mixing on low speed. Do not overmix!
- Add the chocolate chips and mix until combined.
- Dust your work area with flour. Scoop out the mixture onto the floured area. With a rolling pin (dust this with flour too) roll out the dough until it is about one-inch thick.
- Use a heart shaped cookie cutter to make the scone shapes.
- Carefully place the scones on the baking sheet. Brush the tops of the scones with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake until the tops are golden brown and fully baked, around 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the size of your scones. Allow to cool before eating.
Chocolate Ganache Tarts
What you need for the shortbread tart shells:
- 6 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 tablespoon orange juice
- Generous pinch of salt
What you need for the filling:
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
What you do:
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- For the crust, cream the butter and sugar until light in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Combine the flour and salt and, with the mixer on low, add to the butter until just mixed. Pat into a disk, wrap with plastic wrap and chill for about 20 minutes.
- Arrange 18 mini (2-inch diameter) tart shells on a baking sheet. Press walnut sized rounds of dough into each shell. Bake for 20 minutes until golden brown and let cool completely before filling the shells.
- In a saucepan, bring the cream just to a boil. Pour the cream over the chopped chocolate in a bowl and let stand for about 10 minutes. The heat from the cream will melt the chocolate. Add the vanilla and stir until smooth.
- Using a small cookie scoop or tablespoon, fill each tart with the chocolate mixture (known as a ganache). You can use a small spatula of back of a spoon to level the top of the tarts. Refrigerate until set.
To tea or not to tea? While many British children love to take tea at tea time, the taste may be too foreign for American children’s palate to enjoy, at least initially. Consider introducing just a little tea to flavor a cup of warm milk for your child’s first tea party, or omit the tea altogether and serve warm milk or hot chocolate.