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Fall for a Tea Party This Season

MISSION, KS -- (Marketwire) -- 10/04/12 -- (Family Features) Looking for a new way to entertain this year? Try a tea party. This seasonal soirée from the celebration experts at Wilton is casual, colorful and delicious.

First, the tea. Every tea enthusiast knows that a great brew starts with fresh, cold, high-quality water -- filtered or bottled is preferred over tap water. Using a tea kettle, like Copco's Red Delicious Apple Tea Kettle -- complete with a playful design and bright harvest colors -- is the best way to heat water to the correct temperature. The kettle's plug-in harmonic whistle lets you know when water is just boiling. Offer a selection of tea bags to easily display a variety of unique flavors. Include a classic like Earl Grey alongside several choices with citrus, fruit or floral notes.

Next, the sweets. This trio of ideas from the Wilton Test Kitchen features favorite fall flavors that pair perfectly with a cup of tea -- whether it's tea for two or quite a few.

  • Apple Hazelnut Linzer Cookies -- delicate and buttery with a hint of nutmeg -- are sandwiched together with apple butter. They practically melt in your mouth.
  • Harvest Sweet Potato Cakes are spicy-sweet, moist little cakes that will stand out at any party. Use the Wilton Harvest Whoopie Pie Pan to make the fun fall shapes that are Candy Melt candy-dipped, then decorated with sprinkles and sugars.
  • Cinnamon Glazed Apples just might be the unexpected show-stopper. Granny Smith apples stuffed with walnuts and raisins are basted with a mixture of melted red cinnamon candies and apple juice as they bake. A tangy piping of cream cheese is just the right balance for the sweet-hot apples -- ideal for an afternoon tea party.

For more seasonal project ideas, recipes and additional information on Copco and Wilton Enterprises, visit www.copco.com and www.wilton.com.

Apple Hazelnut Linzer Cookies
2      cups all-purpose flour
2/3    cup finely ground hazelnuts (about 2 oz.)
1/4    teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4    teaspoon salt
1      cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
2/3    cup granulated sugar
1      egg
1/2    teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2    cup apple butter
       Red Icing Color, optional
       Confectioners' sugar, optional

In small bowl, combine flour, hazelnuts, nutmeg and salt; set aside. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla; mix well. Add flour mixture; mix only until combined. Form dough into 2 disks, about 1 in. thick; wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 hours or until firm enough to roll.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

On floured surface, roll out dough 1/8-in. thick (keep dough in refrigerator until ready to roll). Using square Linzer Cutter, cut half of the dough with 3-in. cutter and place on prepared pan. Cut remaining dough with 3-in. cutter with insert; transfer to second baking sheet. Form scraps into a disk, chill at least 30 minutes and reroll.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until light golden brown. Cool on cookie sheet 2 minutes; remove to cooling grid and cool completely. Tint apple butter with red icing color, if desired. Spread whole cookies with apple butter; if desired, lightly dust cookies with cut-outs with confectioners' sugar and gently sandwich cookies together.

Makes about 32 sandwich cookies.

Cinnamon Glazed Apples
3      medium Granny Smith apples
3/4    cup apple juice
1      jar (3 oz.) Cinnamon Drops Sprinkles
1/4    cup firmly-packed brown sugar
1      tablespoon chopped walnuts, toasted
2      tablespoons raisins
       Pinch of salt
4      oz. (1/2 8-oz. package) cream cheese, softened
2      tablespoons confectioners' sugar
       Pinch nutmeg (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut a small amount off top and bottom of each apple so it will stand up. Cut apple in half horizontally. Scoop out core, leaving about 1/4 in. at the edges. Do not core all the way to the end of the apple. Pour juice and cinnamon drops into the bottom of a 9 in. square baking dish. Arrange apple halves in baking dish. In small bowl, stir together brown sugar, walnuts, raisins and salt. Pack about 2 tablespoons of mixture into hollowed core of each apple.

Bake 40-45 minutes, basting with juice every 10 minutes, until apples are easily pierced with a fork. Cool.

In small bowl, beat cream cheese with electric mixer until creamy. Add confectioners' sugar and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Pipe onto cooled apples, or along side of plate.

Makes 6 servings.

Harvest Sweet Potato Cakes
1-3/4  cups all-purpose flour
2      teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
1      teaspoon baking soda
3/4    teaspoon baking powder
1/2    teaspoon salt
1/2    teaspoon ground nutmeg, divided
1/4    cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1      cup granulated sugar
2      eggs
1      can (15 oz.) sweet potatoes, drained and mashed (about 1 cup)
1/4    cup buttermilk
1      bag (12 oz.) white Candy Melts candy, melted
       Assorted Autumn sprinkles and colored sugars

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray Autumn Harvest Pie Pan with vegetable pan spray.

In medium bowl, combine flour, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg. In large bowl, beat butter and sugar with electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add flour mixture to butter mixture alternately with sweet potatoes and buttermilk, mixing thoroughly after each addition. Fill pan with 1-1/2 tablespoons batter (about 1/2 full), spreading batter to edges of cavities.

Bake 7-9 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 5 minutes; remove to cooling rack. Cool completely before decorating.

In small bowl, combine melted candy with remaining cinnamon and nutmeg. Dip half of each single (not sandwiched) cake into candy mixture; add sprinkles and sugars. Place on parchment paper until set.

Makes about 24 cakes.

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