Taste of Franklin: Elegant nibbles set tone for special bridal tea

FRANKLIN LIVING—

In Cindy Coan’s event planning and food innovations classes at Russellville High School, students don’t just learn the theory behind hosting and hospitality. They get hands-on experience. From board meetings to rock concerts, these family and consumer science students learn how to plan and execute a range of events – and no such class would be complete without delving into the world of bridal teas.

“In Russellville, bridal tea recipes have been passed down, and they are generations old,” Coan said. “There is a standard: This is what you will find.” Although a bridal tea menu might vary depending on the season or other factors, iconic items include finger sandwiches and some form of cheese straws – a Southern classic. “Nobody does a bridal tea like Russellville.”

Although trends change and have changed over the years – like the dessert of choice, for example, which morphed from the once-favorite sheet cake, to petit fours, to the now-popular cupcakes – a bridal tea or similar event will always be made special by the recipes chosen and the delectable treats created to satisfy the guest of honor and her family and friends.

“Each lady in the community will often have her specialty. Mine has become the carrot sandwich,” Coan said. Flavor, shape, season and color scheme are critical components of the menu, and Coan said it’s important to consider art principles when designing an eye-catching, mouthwatering bridal tea display.

Try your hand at some of Coan’s bridal tea favorites.

Frosty Peach Punch

Makes 1 gallon

Ingredients:

3oz. package peachflavored gelatin

1 cup boiling water

1/2 cup sugar

1 cup cold water

Two 0.23oz. packages unsweetened pink lemonade drink mix

46-oz. can pineapple juice

2liter bottle lemon-lime carbonated beverage, chilled

Instructions:

  1. Combine first three ingredients, stirring until gelatin dissolves.
  2. Add water, drink mix and pineapple juice; stir until lemonade dissolves.
  3. Place mixture into gallonsize, heavy-duty, zip-top plastic bag. Seal and freeze.
  4. Place frozen mixture in a punch bowl; let thaw partially.
  5. Add one bottle of lemon-lime beverage to peach mixture. Stir gently and serve.

Pecan Puffs

Makes 45-50

Ingredients:

3 egg whites

Pinch of salt

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 cup pecans, finely chopped

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 200 degrees.
  2. Beat roomtemperature egg whites until stiff. Gradually add sugar and salt to egg whites, beating 6-8 minutes.
  3. Stir in vanilla. Add pecans and mix.
  4. Drop by wellrounded teaspoonfuls onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.
  5. Bake at 200 degrees for 55-60 minutes until firm to touch. Let cool completely.
  6. Store in airtight container. May be frozen.

Helpful Hints:

  • Do not make on a rainy day.
  • Use egg whites at room temperature.
  • 10 drops of red food coloring make the puffs a lovely soft pink
  • Let cool on cookie sheet for five minutes before removing to set the bottom.
  • They do not grow a lot when cooked; they only get slightly puffier.

Carrot Sandwiches

Makes two loaves of bread worth of sandwiches

Ingredients:

Two 8oz. packages of cream cheese, softened

4 carrots, grated

1/2 cup chopped pecans

1/4 small onion, grated

salt

pepper

mayonnaise

bread

Instructions:

  1. In mixer, cream the cheese and add grated carrots, grated onion, salt, pepper and enough mayonnaise to moisten.
  2. Add pecans.
  3. Trim bread.
  4. Spread filling on bread.
  5. Chill or freeze before slicing into desired shape. Sandwiches freeze well.

Cucumber Sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 or 2 medium to large cucumbers, peeled and seeded

1 8oz. package of cream cheese

1/4 cup mayonnaise

dash of garlic powder

3 small green onions, chopped

1 large loaf of bread

Instructions:

  1. Place cucumber in a food processor and blend.
  2. Pour onto paper towels and squeeze any extra moisture from cucumber.
  3. Return to processor with next four ingredients. Blend until it forms a creamy consistency.
  4. Chill for two hours or overnight.
  5. Cut crust from bread; spread on sandwich. Cut into desired shape.

Cheese Wafers

Ingredients:

2 cups shredded extra-sharp Cheddar Cheese

1/2 cup salted butter, softened

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

3-4 dashes hot pepper sauce

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

2 cups crispy rice cereal

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. With paddle attachment on electric mixer or in food processor, mix together cheddar cheese and butters.
  3. Add 1/2 cup flour into the cheese mixture at a time, assuring each addition is incorporated fully before adding the next.
  4. Add garlic powder, salt and hot pepper and mix. Mixture will form a stiff dough.
  5. Use a wooden spoon, mixer paddle attachment or hands to incorporate the crispy rice cereal.
  6. Shape mixture into small balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet.
  7. Use a fork to flatten each ball.
  8. Bake in preheated oven until set but not yet browning, 15-17 minutes. Sprinkle with a bit of paprika.   
  9. Let cool on the cookie sheet for five minutes. Transfer to cooling rack to complete cooling.
  10. Store in air tight container. May be frozen.

Note:

Very nice to put six to eight crisp wafers in a clear bag and tie with pretty ribbon for a takehome treat or small gift.

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