This afternoon was absolutely lovely. A friend of mine from church invited me and a few other ladies over for a tea party to celebrate Bastille Day. In keeping with the theme, it was a French tea party and therefore the cake for this occasion must be a French cake.
I chose the Financiers aux Mirabelles (plum round ingots) because they are French in origin and are dainty enough for tea.
I did a little research and found that financiers are French cakes that are often mistaken for pastries. Mirabelle translates into plum and financier translates to financial or someone who does finances. Wikipedia told me that they are named that because they are believed to have become popular near the stock exchange in Paris. All the business men began eating them and that's where the word financier is from.
They really aren't too difficult or time consuming to make. The actual cake is made from toasted almonds, flour, powdered sugar, egg whites, and butter (beurre noisette). After chopping the almonds, powdered sugar, and flour in a food processer, you basically add everything else and then stick it in the fridge for six hours.
Because of the long wait, I woke up this morning at 5 (mainly to study.. not as much for the cake) and completed them before my 8 o'clock exam. Dedication? I think so.
All that's left is to slice the plums and arrange them on top of the batter in little tartlet pans. Mine were a little bigger than Rose's so I had to use more plums and one less pan. It reminds me a lot of a charlotte.
I thought they were very pretty- definitely fit for a tea.
So then for the actual tea party; What a treat! As soon as we walked in, we were ushered to the back to pick out a hat for the special occasion. I chose a vintage black one to go with my bright yellow dress and black belt. There is really nothing more festive than wearing a hat. Think about it. For a birthday, you wear a gaudy paper cone on your head; for a wedding, you wear a veil; for new years, you wear something strange and festive like a headband... and the list goes on. So wearing a beautiful hat for a tea party made the occasion even more special.
While we were there I was incredibly impressed with not only the delicious food but also the beautiful presentation. I felt a little rude snapping pictures but if it's for the blog then anything goes, right?
With a cloth napkin in my lap that was handmade from India, with the lace table runner going over the white table cloth, with beautiful fine china on the table, with carefully prepared food, and with silverware to go with each part of the meal, I think we all felt like queens. Why don't tea parties happen more often? It's such a lost art.
Now, instead of delicate tea cups, we have chunky coffee mugs/tumblers. Instead of sitting and waiting on tea to steep, we have a coffee makers programmed so that the coffee is ready exactly when we wake up in the morning. Our coffee brakes are quick-sometimes they mean a simple stop at a drive-through window.
I thought that our host made a beautiful point. She said, "That's the beauty of a tea party. The tea steeps." I totally agree. Sometimes it's so nice to just stop. Stop worrying, stop busying yourself, stop studying. People used to be so patient- they had time to have tea each day- and even to wait for it to steep. I'm trying to take that lesson with me.
Needless to say, I loved the afternoon. It was wonderful to be blessed with the hospitality of our host and to enjoy sweet time with new friends.
The Financiers aux mirabelles went over well I think. They definitely complimented the theme of the party. We decided that they are definitely a French country dessert. They aren't super sweet like we are accustomed to here but they are very fruity and very fresh.
Rose's Heavenly Cakes
Plum Round Ingots (Financiers au Mirabelles)- page 319