Afternoon tea review: Cocomaya

Cocomaya fine chocolateLast weekend for my birthday, I embarked on an afternoon tea with my girl mates at Cocomaya which is an artisan bakery and chocolatier in central London. I had tried out the bakery a few months earlier with my French friend and enjoyed the flourless chocolate cake, sitting outside in the warm sunshine. The afternoon tea was set in the chocolate shop next door to the bakery and it was adorned with plates of beautiful homemade chocolates, brightly wrapped chocolate bars and a cabinet full of trinkets and vintage china. It is a girl’s dream!  The setting was perfect and we sat down to a variety of teas and coffees and water flavoured by blueberries, raspberries and flowers. My friends had rose tea, Darjeeling, good old breakfast tea and earl grey. I was brave enough to try tea for about the second time in my life and had assam chai tea which was bearable for the non-tea drinker!

Cocomaya triangular sandwiches with cream cheese, salmon, ham and cheeseFirst up was a selection of sandwiches with a difference – they used a dark ryebread which was very tasty although rather filling and heavy for an afternoon tea. The cream cheese and chilli, salmon and cucumber and ham and cheese sarnies were tasty. We didn’t eat too many though as we wanted to save ourselves for everything else to come. We also ate cheese rolls which were in Mary Berry’s words ‘scrummy’.  The next course included a selection of three types of scones – fruit scones, chocolate drop scones with cranberries and plain scones. They were accompanied by homemade jam which I guessed was something like blackberry and damson jam plus clotted cream.

Cocomaya lemon and poppy seed cakes, raspberry and choc cakesThen came a selection of about 10 mini cakes – some to half, some to have all to yourself. I couldn’t believe such a large selection of delights! Firm favourites included mini chocolate flourless cake, lemon and poppyseed mouthfuls, raspberry and creme patissiere cakes, fudge brownie and blackberry mini loaf. There were also mini banana loaf and mini marble cake slices. What a treat!

We were starting to fill up and had to go rather slowly. We opened pressies, took photos next to the chocolates and vintage china and smelt teas! It was lovely to take the afternoon at a really leisurely pace and savour every mouthful. Cocomaya let us take little boxes home of all the cakes we couldn’t eat at the time so the afternoon tea memories carried on into the weekend….

choc brownies by Cocomaya

For £25 per person I think this was one of the best afternoon teas I’ve had – the atmosphere was fabulous, the food generous and varied and the service patient and not intrusive. When I say patient – we asked if I could smell lots of different teas before I plumped for the assam chai and our waiter also took lots of piccies of us too! It can sometimes be hard to get through to them on the phone but I can only think they’re putting the finishing touches on their cakes. It’s well worth persevering and booking that afternoon tea of yours.

Special thanks go to my friend Hannah Carmichael for taking the amazing photos in this post. You can view more of her work at: http://picasaweb.google.com/hannie20

Edwardian Garden Party – afternoon tea treats

I have finally got back to the blogging after a little reprieve during the holidays but rest assured I have been baking and have lots to update you on! I have also been watching the Great British Bake Off and it has inspired me to do more baking. I thought the tarte au citron from Mary Berry would be a great recipe to try soon.

Back in June I was invited to an Edwardian Garden Party. It was great fun and full of delicious afternoon tea goodies. I managed to get a few snaps of the raspberry and champagne jelly and these little lemon and mini cupcake treats on vintage crockery! This year Lili Vanilli has been researching the Edwardian High Tea so you can see her photo story if you’re feeling inspired!

Afternoon tea review: The Orangery

Kensington Gardens, afternoon teaOn Saturday I visited the Orangery in Kensington Gardens for afternoon tea with my friend. It was a beautiful sunny day so we didn’t mind waiting too much for a table. Unfortunately you can’t book in advance. We opted to sit inside so we could enjoy the atmosphere of this grand building. Each table has a little mini orange tree on it which is a nice addition. We chose the signature afternoon tea and an enchanted palace afternoon tea. The afternoon tea was on the whole very good although I have a couple of small gripes. The sandwiches could have been a little fresher – when eating finger sandwiches it is immediately apparent if they’ve been sitting about for a while. The scone although tasty was a little undercooked and heavy. On the plus side, the passionfruit mini tart was to die for. We couldn’t believe the people at the next table left theirs! They missed a treat. We loved the little cakes from the enchanted palace afternoon tea – a mini chocolate ganache gateau and a heart shaped shortbread with raspberries. We polished off everything! I am trying to avoid caffeine at the moment and there was no problem to swap the included tea or coffee for another soft drink. The homemade lemonade was refreshing and simple. Overall we really enjoyed the afternoon tea and would recommend it. However, be aware that at the weekends service is slow and staff seem content to keep the pace that way, even when there is a queue of people and the odd table is empty. Perhaps visit in the week if you’re on holiday or go with the mindset that you will be taking a very leisurely afternoon tea.

Raspberry courting cake recipe review

2 tier cake adapted from Good Food magazineOn this cold snowy night, I thought it would be nice to hark back to a summer recipe. This is a raspberry courting cake which I made in August and tasted absolutely delicious. My sister-in-law adapted the recipe from the July issue of the Good Food magazine – it’s a three layer cake but as we didn’t have three sandwich tins, we scaled down the recipe to make it a simple two layer cake. The magazine had some interesting history about this particular cake – it’s a Lancashire cake made by ladies for their young (betrothed) men – see the Food Dictionary’s definition here. It’s usually prepared with fresh cream and strawberries but I liked Good Food’s interpretation with raspberries and mascarpone! I did make this for a young man but not one I’m betrothed to! My five year old nephew declared that he didn’t want a chocolate birthday cake this year, so my niece and I baked him this beauty instead!

Here’s the adapted sponge recipe:
Use 8 inch cake tins
200g softened butter
200g caster sugar
4 medium free range eggs (beaten)
200g self raising flour
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp baking powder

For the filling, use a 250g tub of mascarpone or a smaller tub if you can find one
50g of icing sugar and some to dust the top of the cake
175g raspberries
1tsp vanilla extract
zest of one lemon

Treat this as a Victoria sponge cake with a different filling. Cream the sugar and butter, add the eggs one by one, then fold in the sieved flour and baking powder plus pinch of salt. Combine it as little as possible so the sponge turns out nice and light. Bake for 25-30mins in the oven – Fan 160/Oven 180/Gas mark 4. Once baked, let the cake cool. In the meantime, mix the mascarpone with the icing sugar and lemon zest. Spread a generous layer of mascarpone on the top of one of the cake halves. Place the raspberries all over. Then stack the second cake half on top. Finish off with a dusting of icing sugar! This is a simple cake to bake and a refreshing alternative to Victoria sponge. Being a Lancashire lass myself this is a cake close to my heart…

Paris: the tale of the tart, the cupcake and the macaron

Lemon cupcake from Miss Cupcake shop in ParisI recently visited Paris for the very first time and as part of my trip, I made it my quest to sniff out a cupcake shop and devour raspberry tarts and try my first Parisian macaron. First up, I stumbled across a cupcake shop not far from the Sacré Coeur called Miss Cupcake (nearest metro station is Abesses). I chatted to the two ladies in there and bought a lovely looking lemon cupcake with yellow edible glitter. Whilst admiring the view from the Sacre Coeur I took this pic of the cupcake which came in a very handy portable cupcake container. The sponge melted in your mouth and I loved the amount of icing. As it was a lemon cupcake I think it could do with a little bit more lemon juice to make it really lemony.

Raspberry tart from Les Magots, ParisNext up was this corker of a raspberry tart in Les Deux Magots in the Saint-Germain-des-Prés area. The crème anglaise was yummy and the raspberries were plump and delicious. I did have one other raspberry tart which was superior in fact. It was from La Durée and I devoured it on the Eurostar home but I couldn’t get a snap of it with flash as everyone was fast asleep!

Macarons from La DuréeFinally, I spent a good 20 minutes queuing up for some of these beauties in La Durée. I chose vanilla, blackcurrant, caramel, red berries and chocolate. Six of these will set you back around eight euros. The intensity of flavour was incredible. I loved the blackcurrant and caramel ones. My friend told me that Pierre Hermé (here’s his chocolate macaron recipe) sells delicious ones near le Jardin des Tuileries but I didn’t get time to pop in there. I will have to save that for my next culinary visit to Paris! According to the Daily Telegraph, his book ‘Macaron’ should be publishing this autumn in English so I will be keeping my eyes peeled for that! I’ve done a bit of digging but can’t find it on sale yet so the mystery continues…Finally, if you fancy reading a bit more about macarons and Pierre Hermé, I enjoyed reading He-Eats’ blog post.

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