Heart-Shaped Shortbread Cookies | Recipe | Meredith Sweetpea

Heart-shaped shortbread cookies dipped in chocolate

Nothing goes better with a cup of tea than a delightful shortbread cookie. Try this recipe, courtesy of Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa.


  • 3/4 pound unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 to 7 ounces good semisweet chocolate, finely chopped


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  • In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix together the butter and 1 cup sugar until they are just combined. Add the vanilla.
  • In a medium bowl, sift together the flour and salt, then add them to the butter/sugar mixture. Mix on low speed until the dough starts to come together.
  • Dump dough onto a flour-dusted surface and shape into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and chill for 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
  • After 30 minutes, roll the dough to 1/2″ thickness. Cut with heart-shaped cookie cutter. Place the cookies on an ungreased baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until the edges begin to brown. Allow to cool to room temperature.
  • If you would like to dip your shortbread cookies in chocolate, place the cooled cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
  • Put 3 ounces of the chocolate in a glass bowl and microwave on HIGH for 30 secoonds. Stir with a wooden spoon. Continue to heat and stir in 10- to15-second increments until the chocolate is just melted. Stir in the remaining chocolate until it is completely smooth. Stir vigorously until the chocolate is smoothed and slightly cooled; stirring makes it glossier.
  • Dip 1/2 of cookie in just enough chocolate to coat it.

–Adapted from The Barefoot Contessa Back to Basics cooking show; Improptu Dinner episode.


Scones with Cherry Preserves | Tea Party Recipes

With March approaching, Miss Meredith Sweetpea is greatly anticipating the upcoming Cherry Blossoms that so delightfully decorate our landscape. To celebrate, let’s enjoy this recipe for Scones with Cherry Preserves.


Heart-Shaped Scones with Cherry Preserves

Cupid’s Scones
with Cherry Preserves*

  • 4 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 TBSP baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2/3 cup (1 stick + 3 TBSP) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • Sugar crystals for garnish
  • Devonshire cream and cherry preserves for serving

– Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or grease well.

– Combine dry ingredients.  Cut in butter with pastry cutter or 2 knives until mixture is the texture of cornmeal.  Add buttermilk and mix until a soft dough forms. Knead dough on a lightly-floured board until it holds it shape, being careful not to overhandle the dough.

– Roll out to 1/2″ thickness and cut with 2 1/2″ heart-shaped cutter.  Place on baking sheet and sprinkle with sugar crystals.

– Bake 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Serve warm with Devonshire Cream and cherry preserves.

Makes 12-16 heart-shaped scones

–*Excerpted from “Taking Tea With Alice: Looking-Glass Tea Parties and Fanciful Victorian Teas,” by Dawn Hylton Gottlieb & Diane Sedo.

Hot and Healthy Winter Tea Recipes | Proper Tea

There is nothing like a hot cup of tea, a good book, and a roaring fire…all at the same time. That is how Meredith Sweetpea enjoys a wintery day. Pull up your most comfortable chair toward the fire, spread an afghan across your legs, and get your your toes good and toasty as you lose yourself in a warm cuppa and a winter’s tale.

Here are some hot and healthy winter tea recipes you can enjoy: Continue reading

Sugar Plums Recipe | Tea Party Recipes

Meredith Sweetpea remembers reading Clement Clark Moore’s poem “A Visit from St. Nicholas” this time of year. It begins like this…

"...while visions of sugar plums danced in her head..."

‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all thro’ the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there;
The children were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of sugar plums danc’d in their heads,

Now, Meredith Sweetpea thought that sugar plums were candy…didn’t you?  But come to find out, there is an actual recipe for sugar plums. Delicious plums rolled with other ingredients and served covered with powdered sugar.

Here’s the recipe from the November 2007 issue of Saveur Magazine for you to try at home. You might want to re-sugar them just before eating, as the sugar plums tend to absorb the powdered sugar.

Make some delicious sugar plums

Sugar Plums Recipe


2 cups whole almonds
1⁄4 cup honey
2 tsp. grated orange zest
1 1⁄2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1⁄2 tsp. ground allspice
1⁄2 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 cup finely chopped dried apricots
1 cup finely chopped pitted dates
1 cup confectioners’ sugar

1. Preheat oven to 400°. Arrange almonds on a baking sheet in a single layer and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Set aside to cool, then finely chop.

2. Meanwhile, combine honey, orange zest, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg in a medium mixing bowl. Add almonds, apricots, and dates and mix well.

3. Pinch off rounded teaspoon-size pieces of the mixture and roll into balls. (Rinse your hands often, as mixture is very sticky.) Roll balls in sugar, then refrigerate in single layers between sheets of waxed paper in airtight containers for up to 1 month. Their flavor improves after ripening for several days.

Moroccan Mint Tea | Tea Recipes

Moroccan Mint Tea

Moroccans love their mint tea,  which they sip throughout the day in cafes and souks (marketplaces). It is usually served at home at the end of a meal or with sweets.

Moroccan Mint Tea is made with Chinese Gunpowder Tea, which got its name from the popping noise the tightly-rolled leaf pellets made when infused. Here is a simple recipe that you can try at home.

Moroccan Mint Tea Recipe

Make in a 3-cup teapot, serves six.

  • Warm the tea pot with hot water. Discard water.
  • Add to the pot:
  1.      1 tablespoon of Gunpowder Tea
  2.      1/3 cup sugar,
  3.      a handful of fresh spearmint leaves.
  • Add boiling water, cover and steep for three minutes. Stir and serve.

Tea Sandwiches | Tea Recipes

Meredith Sweetpea likes to hold afternoon tea for her friends, serving up a delightful variety of tiny tea sandwiches. Most of her friends have never tried these nibbles, and croon in pleasure as they enjoy them, along with dainty sweets and scones.

Here are some of her favorite tea sandwiches:

  • Thinly sliced cucumber and cream cheese with dill on pumpernickel bread.
  • Smoked turkey with cranberry (or other fruit) mayonnaise on wheat bread.
  • Shrimp salad with dill on oatmeal bread.
  • Chicken salad with almonds on white bread.
  • Curried chicken with walnuts on white bread.
  • Goat cheese and watercress and pecans on raisin bread.
  • Tuna salad with dill on pumpernickel bread.
  • Sliced hard boiled eggs with bibb lettuce and herb mayonnaise on wheat bread.
  • Stilton cheese and pear slices on dill bread.
  • Cream cheese with walnuts and dates on date nut raisin bread.
  • Tomato with basil with mayonnaise on dark bread.
  • Deviled egg salad with a touch of cayenne pepper on dark bread.

Pick a couple of types of sandwiches for a nice taste treat and presentation. Try to mix the varieties, such as serving a vegetable, meat and seafood variety at one tea.

You may want to spread the bread to taste, with a thin layer of mayonnaise, vinaigrette, cream cheese, or other spread.

Create an eye-pleasing presentation by using a tiered serving tray or your best china and tea service. Layer the varieties of sandwiches and different bread colors in a complimentary pattern.

Meredith Sweetpea loves Pepperidge Farm’s Party Breads that come in Jewish Rye and Dark Pumpernickel. They are the perfect size for tea or finger sandwiches. Cut each sandwich in half if filled. Serve whole if serving an open-faced sandwich.

Otherwise, cut your favorite sandwiches into either strips or quarters for easy serving and eating.

English Lemon Curd | Tea Recipes

Meredith Sweetpea asks: What is a scone without lemon curd? Here is a recipe from The Savoy in London, England that you can make make and enjoy with your scones.

  • 3 ounces (6 TBSP) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
  • 1 cup superfine sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2/3 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp grated lemon zest
  1. In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugar with an electric mixer about 2 minutes. Slowly add the eggs and yolks. Beat for 1 minute. Mix in the lemon juice. The mixture will look curdled, but it will smooth out as it cooks.
  2. In a medium, heavy saucepan, cook the mixture over low heat until it looks smooth. (The curdled appearance disappears as the butter in the mixture melts.) Increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens, about 15 minutes. It should leave a path on the back of a spoon and will read 170 degrees on a thermometer. Don’t let the mixture boil.
  3. Remove the curd from heat; stir in the zest. Transfer the curd to a bowl. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the lemon curd to keep a skin from forming, and chill the curd in the refrigerator. The curd will thicken further as it cools. Covered tightly, it will keep in the refrigerator for a week and in the freezer for 2 months.
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