Please excuse us. We’ve been hibernating. But with a spring in our step, an extra hour of daylight, and the last gasp of winter citrus, we thought it was time to update you with a recipe and an idea for a spring time party.
My darling friend of 12 (!) years M. was in town for her 29th birthday and decided she wanted to have a high tea. She invited us to a friends’ apartment, and asked that we bring a tea snack. Since my new favorite thing to do is a custom birthday cake I asked her what she would like and what flavors she enjoyed. The response: Cheesecake, lemon, and plan flavors like rose or thyme. The idea presented itself right there. Why not a lemon cheesecake, infused with thyme, and topped with whipped cream flavored with rose water?
In gathering ingredients to make the recipe I realized that I didn’t just have any lemons, I had Meyer lemons. A sweet, lemony cross with an orange they would be perfect in an afternoon tea treat. And why not infuse the thyme into the cake? And why make a big cheese cake when I could make personal sized cheese cakes? Less mess, less fuss, and cute on a tea tray.
This treat is super easy to make and it is decadent. I used a graham cracker crust from Mark Bitman’s How to Cook Everything Vegetarian and it was delightful. Here’s what you do:
Baked Graham Cracker Crust
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 TBS melted butter
Pinch of salt
1 TBS sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor mix together the graham crackers, salt and sugar. Slowly add the butter until the mixture forms a fine crumb. Line a 12-cupcake tin with cupcake liners and then spoon the mixture into the liners. Press with your fingers or the back of the spoon. Bake for 8 minutes and cool before adding the cheesecake filling.
Meyer Lemon Cheesecake Infused with Thyme
1 1/2 Pounds (3 8 oz blocks) cream cheese
1 cup mascarpone cheese
1/3 cup milk
1 1/2 cup sugar
Zest and juice of 2 Meyer lemons
Handful of thyme sprigs
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a small saucepan add the milk and thyme sprigs. Warm the milk (do not boil) thoroughly over low to medium heat. Remove from heat and let infuse for 20 minutes. In the food processor or with an electric mixer mix the cream cheese until light and fluffy. Add the sugar, mascarpone cheese, and thyme infused milk and milk until blended. Add the eggs one at a time. Add the lemon juice and zest. Pour into cupcake tin lined with cupcake wrappers and graham cracker crust. Bake for 50 minutes until the top is golden brown. Remove from oven, cool and let refrigerate for at least six hours before serving.
To serve: whip 1/2 cup heavy cream with 3 TBS rose water and top the mini cakes with it.
The cakes were an elegant and dainty edition to the high tea, which also included a variety of tea sandwiches and tea from Mariage Freres in Paris. These cakes are also addictive, so the cupcake size can either help or prevent you from over indulgence. What do you like to serve for your tea parties? Never hosted a tea party? Why not?
I thought I was the tea party expert, but here’s some ideas I picked up (and let me just add that this tea party, unlike a certain political party, was distinctly left-leaning, feminist and anti-oppressive):
Get mismatched vintage tea cups, saucers, and napkins at thrift stores and invite guests to bring them home as a party favor.
Create a recipe book or zine for the person the party is celebrating.
Try a specialty that you’ve never had before, or a tea that you love and share a story about that tea.
Tea parties need not be fusty, they can be pretty special, huh?