February 4, 2009
My daughter recently turned eight, the minimum age recommended for American Girl dolls. It’s amazing, really, since before this age, my daughter wouldn’t give these dolls the time of day, and since these dolls are about $90 a pop, I wasn’t about to push it. Just as she approached her birthday, however, her interest increased exponentially with every over-sized catalog that appeared with alarming regularity in our mailbox. Somehow she ended up with three new dolls between Christmas and her birthday, much to her delight, and I’ll be totally honest, mine as well. Helping her brush and curl her dolls’ hair and changing those dolls into adorable tiny outfits are more than a little nostalgic and speaks to the eight year old doll lover in me.
So when it came to making a decision about how to celebrate her birthday, we initially thought to bring a couple of her friends with us into the New York City American Girl Place and have lunch and perhaps take in one of the shows they have there. After it proved too difficult for my daughter to narrow it down to just two friends, I decided to bring the American Girl Café to our house.
The English certainly have elevated this afternoon ritual to a fine art, and I have been refining my teas parties over the course of the past decade, first for bridal showers, then baby showers, and now, little girl tea parties. I found the menu for afternoon tea at the American Girl Café on their website, and followed it fairly closely. This is what we decided on for the menu, with only minor changes:
Kristen’s Wild Blueberry-Lemon Scones
served with fruit preserves and Devonshire cream
Kit’s Garden-Party Sandwiches
with vegetable cream cheese and cucumber
Kaya’s Egg-Salad Tea Sandwiches
Felicity’s Patriotic Roasted Turkey Sandwiches
with cranberry mayonnaise
Addy’s Linzer “Love” Cookie
Molly’s Victory-Garden Chocolate Ice Cream Flowerpot
The table settings with menu. The pink lemonade was from a mix, as I often find refrigerated pink lemonade is somewhat orangey.
Every seat had a place setting for a doll, complete with a mini menu.
These sticky cinnamon buns were a huge hit with the girls. This is one thing on the menu you do not want to skip.
Blueberry lemon scones – delicious plain, but heavenly with a dot of clotted cream. If you cannot find it or want to save $7.50, just serve with butter.
Banana macadamian nut mini muffins – moist and delicious! The Irish Soda bread is lighter than my usual recipe and perfect with a little butter and a cup of tea.
These three kinds of tea sandwiches are pretty basic. I used Pepperidge Farm thin slice bread, both white and wheat.
Kit’s Garden-Party Sandwiches with vegetable cream cheese and cucumber: I used Philadelphia Brand vegetable cream cheese, seedless cucumber thinly sliced on a mandolin, and a grape tomato on top.
Kaya’s Egg-Salad Tea Sandwiches: I make my egg salad with curry powder and dry mustard. I also put alfalfa sprouts on top the egg salad for added freshness.
Felicity’s Patriotic Roasted Turkey Sandwiches with cranberry mayonnaise: I boiled 1/2 C. of frozen whole cranberries in 1/2 C. of water and 4 Tbs. of sugar until the cranberries cracked and thickened. After chopping, I threw these into a cup of mayonnaise and served with smoked turkey breast. I cut small butterflies from cheddar cheese and placed these on top of each turkey sandwich. Another variation would be to cut out stars and use flag toothpicks to skewer them together.
Iced sugar cookies in heart and star shapes. One activity during the party was cookie decorating with plain sugar cookies and a variety of colored royal icing in small ziplock baggies with an end snipped off and various sprinkles. Just be prepared to be sweeping up sprinkles for the next week.
Basic vanilla cupcakes with buttercream icing.
Molly’s Victory-Garden Chocolate Ice Cream Flowerpot – This is a modification from the version served at the American Girl cafe. I took the idea from the Pioneer Woman Cooks blog, substituting ice cream from chocolate mousse and a real flower instead of artificial. One word of caution – do not place ice cream straight into the clay pot as it is not meant for food service. I found small aluminum muffin tins that fit the pot like a glove. This is a great make ahead part of the tea, and you simply take out the ice cream tins just before serving and place flower in the straw. Let ice cream thaw a bit, otherwise you will have impenetrable ice cream and ground oreo dirt everywhere.
So now you too can throw an American Girl tea party that even the adults will love. Be sure to have a pot of real tea on hand.