“Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea.” By Eric Lanlard. Mitchell Beazley, 2016. $24.99.

Maybe it’s because I read every Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle book in my hometown public library. Or maybe because my surname comes straight out of Yorkshire, England. Whatever the reason, I’ve always been fascinated with English history and traditions. So when I saw the cover of “Afternoon Tea” by author and patissier Eric Lanlard, I was hooked. It shows a glorious, rosette-covered cake and beautiful, delicate bone china with pretty floral details displaying tiny confections meant to accompany that most British of traditions: proper tea. I immediately felt myself transported to the drawing room of Downton Abbey.

Flipping through this book is a delight. It oozes Old World charm. Lots of photos of pretty food in delicate serving platters, tea cups and saucers, embellished silver flatware and the occasional string of pearls laid aside a serving tray for effect.

But there’s real substance here, not just style. There’s an introduction on how to brew a proper pot of tea, and suggested tea and food pairings. There are sample menus suggested for occasions like Valentine’s Day or Mother’s Day.

The book is helpfully organized by categories of offerings: savory tarts, sandwiches and scones, cakes and sweet tarts, biscuits (cookies) and more.

Many of the recipes have French names, reflecting the author’s background: Lanlard trained in France, but moved to London at 22 and now operates Cake Boy, a destination bakery there. He has twice been named Continental Patissier of the Year at the British Baking Awards.

He tempts the casual browser with recipes for pistachio and rose financiers, red velvet cheesecake, Persian syllabub, Viennese butter biscuits (dipped in chocolate). Here’s his introduction to Tartelettes de Saint Jacques:

“Originating from Brittany, I had to include a regional recipe and this is one that brings back many childhood memories for me. Succulent scallops sitting on a delicious bed of cooked leeks and tarragon are typical of Breton cooking – simple and all about the delicious ingredients.”

Be forewarned, however. These recipes are in metric measures. That meant I had to do a fair amount of preliminary math so I could do things like convert 30 grams of sugar to 2.5 tablespoons. (The internet was down at my house, and my trusty Betty Crocker cookbook didn’t translate enough metric equivalencies to make this easy.)

And here’s another caveat: the photo accompanying the recipe I chose – Peruvian Chocolate and Orange Mousse – shows the layered mousse in a dainty sherry glass. I had some small, 5 oz. glasses that I thought would be a suitable substitute, but they were too large. Although the recipe says it makes 10 servings, I barely got five because of the wrong size stemware. (I guess this is what happens when you come from a family that served way more Narragansett than sherry.)

Two more disclosures: the recipe calls for dark chocolate, preferably Peruvian. I substituted Ghiradelli 60 percent cacao bittersweet chocolate. And all the recipes in this book call for caster sugar, a very finely granulated sugar. I used regular Domino sugar.

The substitutions didn’t seem to affect the outcome, however. This mousse was sublime. The chocolate was light and airy, but incredibly full of flavor, and the orange curd was so citrusy – it was a perfect foil to the mousse.

I’ll definitely make it again. But next time, I’ll double the recipe. My beer-loving family likes a good-size dessert.


From “Eric Lanlard’s Afternoon Tea.”

Serves 5 to 10, depending on your stemware and appetite

150 g (51/2 oz.) dark chocolate (preferably Peruvian) roughly chopped

150 ml (1/4 pint) whipping cream

30 g (1 oz.) caster sugar

2 tablespoons water

3 egg yolks

Orange curd (see recipe)

A few strands of orange zest to decorate

Melt the chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water, making sure the surface of the water does not touch the bowl. Stir occasionally, then set aside.

Whip cream until it forms soft peaks and set aside.

Place the sugar and the 2 tablespoons of water in a small saucepan and heat gently, stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a rolling boil and cook until it reaches the soft-ball stage on a sugar thermometer (115C/240F). If you don’t have a sugar thermometer to tell if your sugar has reached soft-ball stage, place a saucer in the freezer until cold, and with a spoon place a small drop of the hot sugar mixture on the saucer. If the mixture immediately sets and you can roll the drop into a ball, it is ready.

Working quickly, whisk the egg yolks in a freestanding mixer at high speed then slowly pour in the syrup. Continue whisking the mixture until it is light and fluffy. Leave to cool.

Fold in the melted chocolate and whipped cream, then spoon into a piping bag (or just use a spoon) to fill about one-quarter of a sherry glass. Spoon over a good layer of curd, then top with more chocolate mousse.

Decorate with orange zest.

Chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.


60 ml (21/4 fl. oz) orange juice

1 egg plus 1 egg yolk

85g (3 oz.) golden caster sugar

60g (21/4 oz.) unsalted butter, diced

Juice of 1/2 lemon

In a nonstick pan, whisk the orange juice with the egg and egg yolk. Place over low heat and whisk until warm and thickened. Add the sugar and butter and whisk until combined. Stir the mixture over a low heat for about 20 minutes until it coats the back of a spoon. Pass through a fine sieve and add lemon juice to sharpen the taste, then leave to set in the refrigerator for a minimum of 1 hour. Store in refrigerator for up to 1 week.

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