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Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Tea and Strumpets

Sunday morning dawned clear and cold, with the rare appearance of the Alaska sun.

Despite the dreaded "spring forward" time change, I leapt out of bed and ran downstairs to start baking.

The occasion?  Tea and strumpets.

Yes, you read that right.  I do not mean tea and crumpets.  My friend Arlitia was holding a small tea party for a pretty kick-ass group of women at her house that morning.  Her tea selection was startling:

I wish I could tell you I tried the red velvet chocolate variety, but I didn't.  Everyone brought tea-type food, and Arlitia made three incredible varieties of scones, and several types of tea sandwiches.

She lives in the area of Anchorage called the Hillside, which is built up into the mountains just before you leave Anchorage on the Seward Highway.  You could see the water of Turnagain Arm and higher up into the mountains.  On a clear day, it's a spectacular view.

 
It's been a chaotic couple of weeks, so it was awesome to sit down with some friends and catch up for a few hours.  I don't know if I've said that I'm midway through production on another directing project, the gorgeous but complicated play Eleemosynary.  As of last weekend, I'm also designing the sound.  More on that in the next post, but in the interim, my contribution to the tea party:
 
I'm sure most bakers have a decorative mini bundt pan, which probably never gets used.  Or, at least, mine are almost never used, because I have two:  one shaped like rosettes and one shaped like maple leaves.  I used both to make miniature tea cakes, because portion-sized desserts are the only way to go for a tea that started at 11 a.m.  You may feel guilty carving into a full-size cake at that hour, but it's no big deal to pick up a mini-cake.


This recipe also makes one full-size bundt cake, although it will require a longer baking time. 

Chocolate-Hazelnut Tea Cakes
Adapted from All Cakes Considered by Melissa Gray

3 1/2 sticks salted butter (yes, you read that right), at room temperature
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
6 large eggs
2 cups powdered sugar
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 dark unsweetened cocoa
1 cup chopped hazelnuts

Powdered sugar for garnish, if desired

Prepare two mini-bundt pans with baking spray with flour, making sure to coat all the details in the pan with spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Cream the butter using a hand mixer on medium speed, gradually adding the granulated sugar.  The mixture will be pale yellow and fluffy.  Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each one. 

Slowly add the powdered sugar, and beat until just blended.  Set the mixer aside and incorporate the cocoa and flour by hand using a wooden spoon.  Stir in the chopped hazelnuts.

Dollop the batter into the pans--it will be thick and sticky.  Try to smooth the batter;  you will likely end up with "crowns" on the cakes that will need to be trimmed.

Bake for approximately 40 minutes, or until a tester comes out clean.  Cool the pans on a baking rack for half an hour;  then tip the pans over to unmold.  Cool for another 20 minutes or so;  dust with powdered sugar if desired.


Makes approximately 24 tea cakes, depending on the size of your pans.



37 comments:

  1. Oh, you got excellent definition on your Bundt cakes...I seem to leave a bit of the cake in the pans :/ And I'm glad to took some time to relax with friends...I'm sure they were delighted with these delectable tea cakes!

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  2. My mini bundt pan/dust collector has been calling out to me and this looks like a lovely recipe! I've had a chaotic few weeks as well. Glad you were able to sit and relax with friends.

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  3. I think we need the break from our busy schedule to get together with friends to chat and get everything all the stress out. I probably need one soon with my work heading up there and that tea cakes you made are prefect for such get together. I don't know much about bundt baking pan bc all I use is the normal, either round or square pans.

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  4. Ohh! I love the rose mini cake pan! These are super adorable and I would not mind at all digging into these cakes at 11am! Yum!

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  5. I love that word Strumpets! It just sounds right. Bundt, tea cakes - these look fabulous. That certainly sounded a relaxing afternoon. Bravo on your directing project! Way to go girl!

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  6. Oh, what a fun way to spend some time with the ladies! I love any excuse to get together with women and eat. Tea party, I dig it. Your strumpets looks lovely and, yes, way less feelings of guilt biting into a little cake. :-)

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  7. These tea cakes look so delicious and delicate! What a great treat to enjoy during a ladies' tea party. How fun!

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  8. That's a fun and relaxing party! I too enjoy tea party.

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  9. Glad that you had a good time with your friends.Your tea cake looks delicious and inviting :)Love the hazelnuts in there too!!Beautiful.

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  10. Yummy tea cakes! I wish I could have one with my tea right now...

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  11. The Tea cakes sound delicious with chopped hazelnut,,Yum !! great party idea with TEA :)
    Ridwan

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  12. Looks like a really lovely spread of food and tea. These tea cakes are pretty and sound tasty with tea.

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  13. I love the idea of a little tea and had to laugh at the strumpets part. Your friend has a great sense of humor. :) Your little mini chocolate-hazelnut tea cakes look absolutely perfect for the occasion. I am sure you had a wonderful time with your friends. I would love to see some pictures of Alaska. Your description of your friend' view was very intriguing. :)

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  14. Sweet Jesus, 3 1/2 sticks of butter! Is it wrong that all that butter only makes me want to try these even more?

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  15. Chocolate and nuts, I would have to grab those first! Bundt cakes these days come in all shapes and sizes but I do like the looks of these little rose ones. An afternoon of high tea with friends always makes for a great day. I sure wish I could have seen that scenery-no doubt breathtaking!

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  16. Sounds like it was a great and relaxing time! Your cakes came out great! So pretty and perfect for tea!

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  17. What a lovely way to spend some time with friends. It's amazing just how many varieties of tea are out there! And your chocolate hazelnut tea cakes look fabulous. I love mini anythings.....such a perfect and sweet bite! : )

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  18. What gorgeous bundt cakes a beautiful tea party - everything gets better and better of course with friends :D

    Cheers
    Choc Chip Uru

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  19. Sounds like you had a lovely day - sweet treats in the company of good friends and a gorgeous view to boot! Good luck with the new play. It's a new one on me. Who's the playwright?

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  20. That tea selection is divine! I'm a sucker for a good tea! Although I'm not sure I would have been brave enough to try the red velvet chocolate...

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  21. Not so long ago, I was okay to bake anything as long as it had hazelnuts so you can only imagine how much do I want your pretty little tea cakes right now..

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  22. Chocolate hazelnut tea cakes, you had me at chocolate. These look superb! Thanks for sharing =]

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  23. This is so sweetly civilized and has my favorite ingredients: chocolate and hazelnuts! Love designing sound - also love light design but am incapable! Best of luck with the play - I like it a lot.

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  24. What an amazing feast! I'd never have the patience - but it's a gorgeous array. The tea cakes sound fantastic, I can rarely resist chocolate and hazelnut combines :)

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  25. Every time I read your blog I am blown away by the fact you're in Alaska. So. Cold. LOL!

    These a such pretty little cakes. Chocolate-hazelnut is such a great combo.

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  26. Oh I love that bundt pan. It makes such beautiful little cakes. I always have such a hard time getting the pan cleaned from things like this so I always avoid the pans even though I completely love the end product.

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  27. I don't have a bundt pan of any kind :( These little cakes look gorgeous!

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  28. These tea cakes look delicious, chocolate and hazelnuts are a perfect combo for an awesome tea party! And congratulations on your directorial assignment, wishing you more success!

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  29. Wow I love how simple this sounds! I dont have a bundt pan too so may have to try this using a muffin tin!

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  30. Reading through the ingredients I am tempted to try out your recipe. Delicious goodness!

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  31. These look so yum :-) Perfect...

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  32. Chocolate and hazelnuts go perfectly together! They look very elegant!

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  33. Oh my goodness - with all of that butter, I'm sure they taste amazing! And I'm like you, I wouldn't feel too bad about digging into a mini cake LOL. Chocolate and hazelnuts though...a match made in heaven!

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  34. Oh lord, these look so good! And they are so pretty too!

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  35. I love tea parties mainly because of lots of small bites (I can eat many kinds. :-)). Your tea cake looks very delicious indeed!

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