Spring Tea Party
Spring Tea Party

    Cecile Boisvert of Ottawa decorates the top of her Italian cake with almonds. (Susan Hallett)

    Ottawa resident Cecile Boisvert loves to entertain and does so with great artistry, both in the table settings and in the selection of food.

    Boisvert, who teaches French as a second language, is a linguist from Montreal who speaks five languages. She has lived in several countries including Haiti, Korea, Japan, England, and the United States with her husband, a former diplomat, so I wasn’t surprised to meet women from all over the world at an afternoon tea party at Boisvert’s home on May 1.

    A “bubbly” was offered on arrival, and after guests were introduced, our hostess invited everyone to sample sweets and desserts laid out on the dining room table.

    The array of mouth-watering treats, some of which were made by guests, seemed endless. Some I sampled included beautiful little maple tarts, a braided brioche made by a Swiss friend of our hostess’s, an Italian almond cake made by Boisvert herself as well as a delicious walnut cake from a Jehane Benoit recipe, a glistening chocolate cake, and puff pastries stuffed with whipped cream.

    Since I had made the Danish buttermilk mousse, I left it for other guests to taste. Coffee and tea tables were set up so guests could choose. Sparkling water was also offered.

    It was definitely a tea party to remember. Recipes for three of the desserts follow.

    Bocca di Dama (Italian Almond Cake)

    125 ml (1/2 cup) blanched almonds
    7 eggs, separated
    175 to 250 ml (3/4 to 1 cup) sugar
    250 ml (1 cup) flour
    Grated rind of 1 organic lemon

    Grind the almonds. Beat egg yolks with sugar. Add almonds, flour and lemon rind. Mix thoroughly. Beat whites until stiff and fold in. Put into a greased and floured 8 cm (3-inch) deep pan and bake at 160º C (325º F). for approximately 35 to 40 minutes.

    Kaernemaelks Fromage (Danish Buttermilk Mousse)

    1 envelope unflavoured gelatine
    250 ml (1 cup) buttermilk
    50 ml (1/4 cup) sugar
    75 ml (1/3 cup) slivered blanched almonds
    2 ml (1/2 tsp) grated rind from an organic lemon
    250 ml (1 cup) heavy cream, whipped

    Soak gelatin in 50 ml (1/4 cup) water. Mix buttermilk, sugar, almonds, and lemon rind. Melt gelatine over boiling water to dissolve it. Cool; add to the buttermilk mixture, stirring well. Place in refrigerator and when buttermilk mixture starts to thicken, fold in whipped cream. Rinse a glass bowl with cold water and pour the mixture in. Chill well until set. Garnish with sliced almonds or strawberries. Serves 4 to 6.

    Maple Syrup Tarts

    175 ml (3/4 cup) maple syrup
    125 ml (1/2 cup) 35% cream
    25 ml (1/8 cup) cornstarch
    25 ml (1/8 cup) cold water
    8 tart shells, baked

    Combine syrup and cream. Mix in cornstarch and water until smooth. Place over hot water, bring to a boil and cook for two or three minutes, stirring all the time until mixture thickens. Fill tart shells when cool and serve at room temperature. Keep leftovers in the refrigerator.

    Susan Hallett is an award-winning writer and editor who has written for The Beaver, The Globe & Mail, Wine Tidings and Doctor’s Review among many others. Email: hallett_susan@hotmail.com