Victorian Era Inspired Treats

Tea Biscuits

Following my last post on Mother’s Day and my fascination with tea time, I recently experimented with creating Victorian Era inspired cookies to serve along with the beautiful teacups I found. I have included the recipes used and how-to below – enjoy!

Tea Biscuits

Inspiration 

As opposed to creating some of the typical foods to serve during tea time such as scones and jam, I wanted to create tea biscuits with stenciled designs. The first time I attempted to create what I had pictured in my head it did not turn out well. My intention was to create a cookie where I could paint a design on the cookie’s icing with food coloring. I started out with a cocoa based cookie, which turned out to be a very crisp texture as opposed to chewy. For the icing I used a white chocolate ganache thinking that the surface of the ganache would be smoothe enough to stencil on the food coloring. The result? Water color cookies! The ganache caused each of my food coloring designs to blend into a blurry mess. Not to mention the white chocolate along with the cocoa was much too sweet.


Recipes Used

Tea biscuits – Take 2.

The challenge was to find an icing that one; wasn’t overly sweet and two; created a smooth and solid surface to facilitate painting on the food coloring designs. I originally thought of fondant but it would have been too sweet (I might try fondant cakes for a renaissance inspired menu – stay tuned!). Then I looked into marzipan, another easy recipe and not too sweet because it’s made out of ground almonds. There are many ways to make marzipan, but I used these measurements and it turned out well:

Marzipan Icing

1 ½ Cups Almond Powder

1 ½ Cups Powdered/Icing Sugar

2 Teaspoons Almond Extract

2 Tablespoons Honey

Mix almond powder and sugar together in a medium mixing bowl. When well blended, slowly add the almond extract and honey. The final product should be a thick paste. Once blended, form into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap to let cool in the fridge overnight.

For the cookies, I decided to keep it simple and make short bread cookies; my fave. For the non-bakers like me out there it is the easiest recipe – only 3 ingredients: flour, butter and powdered sugar. Simple but oh so good, especially with a cup of tea! I used cookie cutters so the biscuits were each a perfect circle. You can find a good shortbread cookie recipe easily online. I made a small batch and used the measurements below, they made about 6-8 cookies:

Short Bread

½ Cup Butter, softened (cut into cubes)

¼ Cup Powdered/Icing Sugar

1 Cup Flour

Mix the flour and sugar together in a bowl until well blended. Slowly add the softened butter cubes to mixture. Once well mixed, form mixture into a ball and roll out with a rolling pin until the mixture is a flat oval. Using cookie cutters, cut out each cookie and place on a greased cookie sheet.


Stencil Technique

Equipment Needed:  (1) Food Coloring, (2) Fine paint brush, (3) Jam, preserves or jelly

  1. After letting the marzipan cool in the fridge, warm marzipan to room temperature for about 15 – 20 minutes. While letting the marzipan warm, pre-heat the oven to the required temperature for your short bread cookies.
  2. Once the marzipan has warmed, take a rolling pin and sprinkle with icing sugar to facilitate rolling the marzipan into a large flat oval. Once flattened, use the same cookie cutters used for the cookies to cut out your marzipan icing. Once you have your icing circles, it’s time to get creative – but first, pop your shortbread in the oven!
  3. As your cookies are baking (shortbread usually is about 10-15 minutes depending on the recipe), it’s time to stencil! Using a fine unused paint brush, take your food coloring and paint the design onto the icing. I used fairly simply designs, but tried to make them all unique. Whatever the design, it’s your creation so create what you enjoy!
  4. When cookies have baked, take them out of the oven and leave them on the cookie tray so they stay warm. Keeping them warm will help the marzipan icing stick.
  5. When you have finished your icing designs, rinse the paint brush and use the brush to paint jam, preserves or jelly onto each cookie. This will help the marzipan icing stick to each cookie. I used strawberry jam and orange marmalade.
  6. After you have covered each cookie with jam, take a marzipan circle and cover over the cookie. Gently press the icing onto the cookie so that it holds.
  7. Repeat step 6 for remaining cookies.
  8. Serve with your favorite tea, I recommend Earl Grey!
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