Mother’s Day Treats & Tea

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Want to surprise mom with something sweet this Mother’s Day? We’ve partnered with Michelle Lopez, founder of Hummingbird High, to create a Mother’s Day tea menu fit for a queen.

In general, I have mixed feelings about Mother’s Day. A single day really doesn’t seem like enough time to celebrate all the hard work and effort my mom has done for me — especially since the older I get, the more I realize what tough work being a mom truly is! So if I had my way, there’d be more than one day dedicated to all the moms out there.

But since moms only get a single day out of the whole year, us daughters really need to go all out and make it really special.

Mother’s Day is typically celebrated with a nice brunch or dinner, but I thought I’d up the ante a little bit further and throw my mom a springtime tea party this year.

One of my favorite memories with my mom is when she and I snuck off to The Ritz for high tea during a family trip to London. This spread of Mother’s Day treats and drinks is an homage to the beautiful petit fours and tea that we shared together that afternoon.

Lemon Meringue Tartlets

(makes around 14 tartlets)

For the Brown Butter Tartlet Shells:

  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons water
  • 1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 6 ounces all-purpose flour

For the Lemon Cream Filling:

  • ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolks, at room temperature
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • 1 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes

For the Meringue Icing:

  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup water
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar

For the Brown Butter Tartlet Shells

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 410 (F). If you can’t get your oven to exactly 410 (F), that’s fine. Just be sure to check as you go as you may have to add one or two minutes to the baking time.

In a medium oven-safe bowl, combine 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, 3 tablespoons water, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 tablespoon sugar and a pinch of salt.

Place the bowl in the preheated oven for 15 minutes, until the mixture is boiling and the butter starts browning.

After 15 minutes, remove from the oven (but keep the oven on!), and add 6 ounces of all-purpose flour by quickly spooning in flour in 1 tablespoon-sized chunks. Use a heatproof silicone spatula to stir in the flour. As you do this, the mixture is also going to bubble and smoke, but trust the recipe! It works, I promise. The end result is a dough that pulls off the sides of the bowl and looks a little bit like a lump of mashed potatoes.

Once the dough is cool enough to touch, use the back of your hand to flatten out the dough onto the bottom of the tartlet ramekin, using your fingertips to mold the dough up into the corners and sides of the ramekin. It’s going to feel really greasy, but go with it. I used about a tablespoon of dough per tartlet ramekin. Use a fork to poke several holes over the surface of each tartlet shell, and place each tartlet pan on a baking sheet.

Bake at 410 (F) until the crust is light brown and starts to appear flakey, around 15 minutes. Transfer each tartlet ramekin from the baking pan to a wire rack to cool completely.

For the Lemon Cream Filling:

Pour about 2 inches of water into deep, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Place over medium heat, and bring the water to a simmer.

Combine 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 3 large eggs plus 1 egg yolk, 3/4 cup sugar, and a pinch of salt in a glass bowl. Place the glass bowl over the saucepan containing the simmering water to create a double boiler, ensuring that the bottom of the bowl does not touch the water. Whisk until the mixture becomes very thick and registers 180 (F) on a quick-read digital thermometer. As you’re whisking, be sure to never let the egg yolks and sugar sit together for more than a moment without stirring – the sugar will cook the yolks and turn them granular! Don’t let that happen, or your tart will be weirdly textured and I will cry for you.

After the mixture reaches 180 (F) (around 10 to 12 minutes), remove the bowl from over the water and let cool on a wire rack to 140 (F), stirring gently from time to time to release the heat.

Once the mixture reaches 140 (F), use an immersion blender to blend 1 cup unsalted butter a few cubes at a time into the lemon curd. Blend well after each addition of butter and make sure the cubes are fully incorporated before adding the next few pieces. As you add more butter, the cream will start to turn to a pale yellow and will take on a thick, opaque texture.

Once the butter has been fully incorporated, cover the surface of the lemon cream with a layer of plastic wrap and transfer to the refrigerator to chill for 1 to 2 hours before serving.

For the Meringue Icing:

Once you’ve filled each tartlet shell with the lemon cream filling and you’re ready to serve the tartlets, make the icing. In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, combine 3 large egg whites and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Set aside.

Combine 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar, 1/4 cup water and 1/4 teaspoon cream of tartar in a medium, heavy-bottomed sauce pot. Stir to combine and fit a candy thermometer to the side of the pot. Place over medium heat and cook until the mixture boils, thickens, and reaches 240 (F). Once the mixture reaches 240 (F), immediately pour it into a liquid measuring cup to prevent it from getting hotter.

Return to the egg whites and turn the mixer to medium speed. With the mixer on medium speed, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, aiming for the side of the bowl rather than the whisk and egg whites. When all the syrup is added, turn the mixer to medium-high and whisk until the icing becomes shiny, thick, and holds a firm peak, around 10 minutes. Don’t whisk any longer than that, or the icing will become too thick to spread and pipe!

Transfer to a piping bag and use immediately by piping a dollop of icing on top of each tartlet. Use a chef’s torch to gently brown each dollop and serve immediately.

Hibiscus Arnold Palmers

(makes around 5 to 6 cups, but can easily be scaled up or down)

For the Lemon Simple Syrup:

  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • zest from 1 medium lemon
  • 1 cup water

For the Hibiscus Lemonade:

  • ½ cup dried hibiscus petals
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • a pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice, strained
  • 4 to 6 cups cold water
  • 1 cup lemon simple syrup (recipe included)
  • ice, for serving
  • lemon slices, for garnish

For the Lemon Simple Syrup:

In a small bowl, combine 1 cup granulated sugar and zest from 1 medium lemon. Use your fingers to rub the zest into the sugar — this will help release oil from the lemon zest, infusing your sugar and making it more flavorful.

In a medium, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, combine the sugar and zest (from the 1st step) with 1 cup water. Whisk the mixture until the sugar is dissolved, and bring the mixture to a boil. Let boil for 1 minute before removing from heat and transferring to a wire rack to cool completely. After about a minute on the wire rack, add 2 to 3 sprigs of fresh thyme and whisk gently into the mixture. Let sit for 30 minutes.

Once the mixture has cooled for around 30 minutes, strain the syrup into a small glass jar. Discard the zest and thyme. Refrigerate the syrup overnight to cool completely.

For the Hibiscus Lemonade:

In a small bowl, combine ½ cup dried hibiscus leaves, 1 cup boiling water, and a pinch of ground cinnamon. Let steep for at least 1 hour, letting the water come to room temperature and the color becomes a bright and vivid magenta. Strain into a large pitcher and discard the hibiscus petals.

Add 1 ½ cups freshly squeezed lemon juice to the hibiscus tea. Add 4 cups of water and ice, giving the mixture a good stir. After adding the water and ice, taste the mixture. If you find it to be too tart, add around 1/4 cup of water, tasting after each addition to your liking.

Pour in 1/2 cup simple syrup and stir. Taste the lemonade for sweetness, and add more simple syrup in small increments until you find your ideal level of sweetness. Garnish with lemon slices and serve immediately.

Strawberry Shortcake Trifle

(makes one trifle)

For the Golden Butter Cake:

(makes one 9 x 13-inch cake)

  • 2 ¾ cups cake flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 ¼ cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract

For the Trifle:

  • 3 pints fresh strawberries, hulled and quartered
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 5 cups whipped cream

For the Golden Butter Cake:

Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 350 (F). Prepare a 9 x 13-inch cake pan by spraying generously with cooking spray and lining the bottom with parchment paper. Spray the parchment paper with cooking spray and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine 2 ¾ cups cake flour, 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder, and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Whisk together until combined. Set aside.

In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1 cup unsalted butter and 1 ½ cups granulated sugar. Beat on medium-high speed until light, fluffy, and the volume has doubled, around 2 to 3 minutes. Once the mixture is light and fluffy, lower the speed to its lowest setting and add 3 large eggs and 2 egg yolks, one egg at a time, only adding the next egg/egg yolk when the previous one has fully incorporated.

In a liquid measuring cup, whisk together 1 ¼ cups whole milk and 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract. With the mixer on its lowest setting, add the previously combined dry ingredients in three parts, alternating with the milk and vanilla mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Once all the ingredients have been added, increase the mixer speed to medium and beat for an additional minute and no longer. Be careful not to overmix!

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until golden, just firm, and a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean, about 25 to 30 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely to room temperature.

For the Trifle:

Once the cake has cooled, use a serrated knife to cut the cake into 2-inch cubes. Combine the strawberries and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar in a large bowl and toss together — set aside for 10 minutes. The sugar will “macerate” the strawberries by drawing out their juices and softening them.

Create a layer of cake cubes at the bottom of the parfait bowl, before topping with a layer of strawberries and whipped cream. Continue alternating until all the cake, strawberries, and whipped cream are finished. Serve immediately.

Want more Mother’s Day ideas? See Literally Life’s delicious menu.

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