Outside of scones and tea sandwiches, the afternoon tea sweets course is always a favorite.
There’s just something extra special about bite-size, dainty treats.
And china teapots, and teacups, and friends, and, of course, tea!
But today, it’s all about the Afternoon Tea Sweets Course. Which traditionally follows the savory and scone courses.
The sweets course is usually placed on the top of a three-tier tea tray. For more ideas on tea service, visit our post on How to Serve an Easy Afternoon Tea.
Afternoon Tea and High Tea: the Difference
Though the term is sometimes used interchangeably, if you’re hosting a tea party, it’s good to know the difference.
“High tea is not a fancy tea, as many people assume. Delectable scones, tea sandwiches, and cakes are the hallmark of an afternoon tea, which is served in midafternoon. A high tea, however, includes much more substantive fare, such as meat, fish, and egg dishes, as well as breads and desserts, and is offered in the early evening. Think of it as a light supper served with tea.”
Teacakes From One Side of the Pond to the Other
A teacake in Britain is a light, yeast-based sweet bun containing dried fruit, like these Earl Gray Teacakes. In the U.S., teacakes can be cookies or small cakes. In Sweden, they are soft round flat wheat bread made with milk and a little sugar and used to make tea sandwiches.
Pro Advice for Making Ahead Afternoon Tea Sweets
A reader asked for advice on which tea sweets were easiest to make ahead. Here is some great pro advice.
“Brownies work well, cut into little squares and freeze, then place in little cupcake papers and dust with cocoa to present on the day.”
“I second the suggestion for freezing brownies. Un-iced cakes can usually be frozen. Or freeze plain vanilla cupcakes and make fairy cakes.”
“A tea date loaf is my all-time favourite recipe at the moment and it’s super easy. You soak the fruit in tea. It is best left to cool in the tin and I think tastes better the next day. It freezes really well and gets rave reviews from young and old.” (See a recipe below)
“You could make and freeze a rectangular banana cake for example, and the night before, take it out of the freezer and put into fridge to defrost overnight. In the morning, ice it with nice passionfruit icing, cut into squares and arrange on a platter.”
Sweets Course Recipes
These delicious finger foods are perfect for an afternoon tea sweets or dessert course.
Strawberry Jam Cake
“Strawberry Jam Cake utilizes strawberry jam in the fluffy cake and cream cheese frosting. It’s a quick go-to recipe to celebrate strawberries any time of the year.”
Chocolate Mousse in Chocolate Cups
Minutes to make, these Chocolate Mousse in Chocolate Cups are delectable treats chocolate lovers will appreciate.
Irresistible Custard Tarts
“Our irresistible custard tarts take just 10 minutes to prepare. Who could resist that slight wobble and golden sheen?”
Chocolate Biscuit Cake
“Chocolate Biscuit Cake, a simple confection made with tea biscuits and chocolate ganache, is a modern-day favorite of both Queen Elizabeth II and her grandson, Prince William. The queen always made sure it was on the menu whenever her grandson came for tea at Buckingham Palace. Prince William likes it so much that he requested it as the groom’s cake for his 2011 wedding to Kate Middleton.”
Earl Grey Panna Cotta Tarts
“Serve panna cotta with berries and fresh fruit, granola, milk crumbs, and simple cookies. You can also drizzle panna cotta with chocolate sauce, jam, or caramel. Really, anything goes!”
Mini Strawberry Cheesecakes
This skinny, light dessert takes 10 minutes to make. Perfect for afternoon tea, any time of the year.
Blueberry Basil Tartlets
“Blueberry-Basil Tartlets filled with juicy blueberries and fresh herbs.”
Berries and Cream
“This fresh and fragrant Berries and Cream delight mixes strawberries and raspberries with whipping cream spiked with raspberry liqueur.”
Date and Tea Loaf
Blackberry Coconut Cupcakes
“Tropical Coconut and fresh blackberries come together beautifully in these light and dreamy cupcakes! You’ll love the combination of flavors, along with the sweet cream cheese frosting.”
Carrot Pound Cakes
Made simple in a mini Bundt pan, these Carrot Pound Cakes are a perfect sweet treat for afternoon tea.
Easy Macaron Recipe
“This easy macaron recipe is a basic one, with a few extra tips to help a beginner on their way.”
Fancy Chocolate Biscuits
“These chocolate biscuits are great for an impromptu afternoon tea.”
Strawberry Orange Thumbprint Cookie
“Thumbprint cookies are a great teatime sweet to have in your repertoire. The flavors of the cookie and filling can be mixed and matched to suit your event, but this Strawberry-Orange Thumbprint Cookie recipe is one of our favorites.”
Glazed Lemon Cookies
“These Glazed Lemon Cookies are full of zesty citrus flavor.”
Dotted Shortbread Cookies
“Bite-size Dotted Shortbread Cookies are scrumptious and dainty, making them a perfect addition to afternoon tea.”
Vanilla Sour Cream and Poppy Seed Bundt Cake
“This lovely Vanilla, Sour Cream & Poppy-Seed Bundt Cake is the centerpiece of a festive afternoon tea.”
Strawberry and Cream Sandwich Sponge
“This classic cake is, of course, named after Queen Victoria, the only monarch to reign longer than the current Queen. It’s relatively easy to make but does have a few quirks: you need to get as much air into it as possible, and be mindful of its sensitivity to variations in heat. Know your oven well and invest in an oven thermometer! ”
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