Shine On, Shine On Harvest Moon

Watch for the harvest moon on September 16th


Have you ever come upon a harvest moon rising in the late-September sky? It seems to sit on the road ahead, so close to Earth’s horizon that it takes on the beautiful orange hue of the setting sun.


For a Harvest Moon Tea, why not fill a pumpkin with flowers and greenery, almost as if the harvest moon has settled to Earth on your table.






Redolent with cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and cloves, these Chai Scones offer the best flavors of fall.


Chai Scones

Yield: 12 scones • Preparation: 20 minutes • Bake: 18 to 20 minutes


1.   2 cups all-purpose flour

2.   ⅓ cup firmly packed light brown sugar

3.   2 teaspoons baking powder

4.   2 teaspoons ground ginger

5.   1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

6.   ½ teaspoon salt

7.   ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom

8.   ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper

9.   ⅛ teaspoon ground cloves

10.                 4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into pieces

11.                 1 cup cold heavy whipping cream, divided

12.                 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract



1.   Preheat oven to 350°.

2.   Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.

3.   In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, salt, cardamom, pepper, and cloves, whisking well. Using a pastry blender, cut butter into flour mixture until flour mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

4.   Reserve 1 tablespoon cream for brushing scones. In a small bowl, combine remaining cream and vanilla extract, stirring to blend. Add cream mixture to flour mixture, stirring until mixture comes together. (If dough seems dry, add more cream, 1 tablespoon at a time, until dough is uniformly moist.) Working gently, bring mixture together with hands until a dough forms.

5.   Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead gently 4 to 5 times. Using a rolling pin, roll dough to a ¾-inch thickness. Using a 2-inch square cutter, cut 12 scones from dough. Place scones 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops of scones with reserved 1 tablespoon cream.

6.   Bake until edges of scones are golden brown and a wooden pick inserted in the centers comes out clean, 18 to 20 minutes.



Savory Pear-Onion Compote in Puff Pastry Baskets

Yield: 6 servings • Preparation: 30 minutes • Bake: 13 to 15 minutes • Cook: 10 minutes



1.   1 (10-ounce) package frozen puff pastry shells

2.   1 large egg

3.   1 tablespoon water

4.   3 tablespoons salted butter

5.   ½ cup chopped sweet onion

6.   3 medium Comice pears, peeled, cored, and diced

7.   3 tablespoons golden balsamic vinegar

8.   1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

9.   ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper*

10.                 ⅓ cup blue cheese crumbles

11.                 Garnish: fresh rosemary



1.   Preheat oven to 400°.

2.   Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Place puff pastry shells on baking sheet.

3.   In a small bowl, combine egg and water, whisking to blend. Brush egg mixture over tops of puff pastry shells.

4.   Bake shells until golden brown, 13 to 15 minutes. Punch top layer of pastry into shells to create baskets. (This will provide support for pear mixture). Set aside.

5.   In a medium nonstick sauté pan, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, and cook until tender and slightly caramelized, approximately 5 minutes. Add pears, balsamic vinegar, rosemary, and pepper. Cook over medium heat until just heated through. Add blue cheese crumbles, stirring to combine. Divide pear mixture (compote) among puff pastry baskets.

6.   Garnish each serving with a rosemary sprig, if desired.

7.   Serve warm.



Caramel-Pumpkin Cakes

Yield: 15 servings • Preparation: 1 hour • Bake: 25 minutes



1.   1 cup salted butter, softened

2.   1 cup sugar

3.   3 large eggs

4.   1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree

5.   2½ cups all-purpose flour

6.   2 teaspoons baking soda

7.   1½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

8.   1 teaspoon baking powder

9.   ½ teaspoon salt

10.                 ½ teaspoon ground ginger

11.                 ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

12.                 1 (13.4-ounce ) can dulce de leche

13.                 1 recipe Cream Cheese Frosting (recipe follows)



1.   Preheat oven to 350°.

2.   Spray a 13-x-9-inch baking pan with cooking spray. Line pan with parchment paper, and spray again. Set aside.

3.   In a large bowl, combine butter and sugar. Beat at high speed with a mixer until light and fluffy, approximately 5 minutes. Add eggs to butter mixture, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Reduce mixer speed to low, and add pumpkin puree, beating until incorporated. (Mixture will look curdled.) Set aside.

4.   In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, cinnamon, baking powder, salt, ginger, and nutmeg, whisking well. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture, beating at low speed until incorporated.

5.   Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Tap pan on countertop several times to reduce air bubbles.

6.   Bake until a wooden pick inserted in center of cake comes out clean, approximately 25 minutes. Let cake cool completely in pan.

7.   Turn cooled cake out, rounded side up, onto a cutting surface. Using a long serrated knife and a gentle sawing motion, level cake by trimming dome from cake. Invert cake. Trim and discard edges from cake. Cut cake into 15 (2¼-inch) squares. Cut squares in half horizontally.

8.   Place dulce de leche in a resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off. Pipe dulce de leche onto centers of bottom halves of cake squares, leaving space to pipe a border of Cream Cheese Frosting around edges.

9.   Place frosting in a piping bag fitted with a medium-star tip (Wilton #21). Pipe a straight border around edges of bottom halves of cake squares. Set aside.

10.                 Using an offset spatula, spread dulce de leche in an even layer onto top halves of cake squares. Place top halves of cake (dulce de leche sides up) on bottom halves. Pipe a Cream Cheese Frosting border around edges of tops of cake stacks. Place cake stacks in a covered container, and refrigerate until serving time.

Cream Cheese Frosting

Yield: 2 cups • Preparation: 15 minutes



1.   ½ cup salted butter, softened

2.   1 (8-ounce) package cream cheese, softened

3.   4½ cups confectioners’ sugar

4.   1 teaspoon vanilla extract



1.   In a large bowl, combine butter, cream cheese, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Beginning at low speed and increasing to high speed, beat with a mixer until light and fluffy.


Pumpkin Mousse Tartlets

Yield: 8 tartlets • Preparation: 35 minutes • Bake: 13 minutes • Cool: 30 minutes • Refrigerate: 4 hours



1.   36 crisp gingersnap cookies

2.   5 tablespoons salted butter, melted

3.   ¼ cup sugar

4.   1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin

5.   ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

6.   2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream

7.   ¾ teaspoon ground ginger

8.   ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

9.   ¼ teaspoon ground allspice

10.                 ¼ teaspoon salt

11.                 ⅛ teaspoon ground nutmeg

12.                 ½ teaspoon vanilla extract

13.                 ¼ cup mascarpone cheese

14.                 1 recipe Sweetened Whipped Cream (recipe follows)

15.                 Garnish: ground nutmeg



1.   Preheat oven to 350°.

2.   In the work bowl of a food processor, process cookies until finely ground.

3.   In a medium bowl, combine cookie crumbs, melted butter, and sugar, stirring to blend. Divide crumb mixture evenly among 8 (4-inch) round tartlet pans with removable bottoms, pressing crumb mixture firmly into bottoms and up sides of pans.

4.   Bake until crisp, approximately 13 minutes. Let cool completely.

5.   In a medium sauté pan, combine pumpkin, confectioners’ sugar, cream, ginger, cinnamon, allspice, salt, and nutmeg. Bring to a simmer over low heat, stirring frequently. Cook for 5 minutes to mellow spices. Add vanilla extract, stirring well. Let pumpkin mixture cool completely.

6.   Add mascarpone cheese to pumpkin mixture, whisking to combine. Divide mixture evenly among prepared tartlet shells. Refrigerate until cold, approximately 4 hours.

7.   Place Sweetened Whipped Cream in a piping bag fitted with a large open-star tip (Wilton #1M). Pipe a decorative rosette onto each tartlet.

8.   Garnish each tartlet with a sprinkle of ground nutmeg, if desired.

Sweetened Whipped Cream

Yield: 1½ cups • Preparation: 5 minutes 



1 cup cold heavy whipping cream

2 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar

½ teaspoon vanilla extract



In a mixing bowl, combine cream, confectioners’ sugar, and vanilla extract. Beat at high speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form.

Refrigerate until needed.

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And be sure to enjoy the awesome Harvest moon in September!


Don’t have a fancy tea server?  Be creative!  How about making one of your own from thrift store cups and plates.  Or use candle holders between glass plates.  Think outside the box!

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There is nothing more beautiful.

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A Guide to Scones

by Bruce Richardson
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Newcomers to the afternoon-tea table oftentimes appear perplexed at their first encounter with a scone. That’s why I sometimes begin my talks around the country with a few basic guidelines on scone etiquette. My inspiration for these helpful hints came as a result of a teatime faux pas that happened at the Washington Ritz-Carlton. It was the middle of the afternoon, and I had missed my lunch that day because of a flight delay. As soon as the tea tray was brought to my table, I eagerly spread a scone with way too much clotted cream and strawberry preserves. The pastry could not bear the weight of those bountiful toppings, and en route from the table to my mouth, it collapsed in a sticky mess onto my lap. I am now on a mission to save fellow diners from that troubling embarrassment.

Scones come in all shapes these days, but I have a preference for round English scones. You won’t find triangular scones on many English-tearoom menus. And, I like to see 2-inch-tall scones that rise up and split in the middle. That handy feature makes it easy to open the scone without benefit of a knife.

There are several methods for eating scones—all of them correct—but with some, more hands-on preparation by the diner is required. Here are my suggestions for an error-free tea break.

Think of the scone as a silver dollar that will be broken into two halves and then four quarters. Using the knife from the place setting, slice through the scone horizontally, as it rests flat on your plate. Then break only one half into two pieces (quarters). Spoon small dollops of jam and cream onto your plate—never directly onto the scone. Take only the amount of toppings needed for one scone, and spread one bite—about a quarter—at a time, not the entire surface of the scone. After all, the first rule of teatime etiquette is that you never want to look hungry.

Use the knife to dab the edge of the quarter scone with jam, then cream. Eat that portion, and return the rest to your plate. Sip a little tea, make brilliant conversation, spread new jam and cream, take another bite, and so on.

I’m often asked, “What goes on first—cream or jam?”

Again, there is no correct answer, but if you are having tea in the English counties of Devon or Cornwall, place the jam on first and then proudly put the rich clotted cream on top so that all can see the yellow butterfat that makes the local cattle the pride of Great Britain. When having a formal tea at The Ritz or Claridge’s, however, it’s more discreet to spoon the clotted cream on first, and then hide your decadence by placing the jam atop the buttery rich cream—thus avoiding any semblance of hunger!






                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012