ENTERTAINING: Christmas High Tea

ENTERTAINING: Christmas High Tea

The holidays are a highlight of the year. Spending time with loved ones—both family and friends—is the epitome of mine. Christmas High Tea is a favourite where we don our holiday attire and gather to enjoy the wonder and beauty of the Christmas season. This year, though smaller, was no exception.

I suspect it is all about the food, especially the lamb, our children enjoy when they return home for this annual tradition; we have five children. For me, it is the togetherness/silliness that ensues that I love most. Each child and significant other arrive as their schedules permit. We dance and sing spending the few leading days before the event polishing silver, making all the dishes, and finalizing the décor. Tea day arrives and is abuzz with laying the trays, cutting the greenery, and retiring to our rooms to dress for the evening event which begins promptly at five o’clock. Then, guests begin arriving and have the chance to enjoy a social hour before tea is served at 6:30.

During the social hour, guests circulate amongst each other and I watch with wonder and pride as our grown children interact with poise and grace. Everyone is engaged. New friends meet the children for the first time and get seated at one of their tables. It is important to my husband John and me that each child have their own lives and circle of friends but get the opportunity to meet ours and host a table at Christmastime.

This year, our high tea was a more intimate group. It was a sign of the times. Though the group was smaller, the quantity of food did not waiver! The menu included many favourites and a few new additions—for instance, I like to create a new trifle flavour each year. As the attendees make their way to the tea buffet, they see the various Christmas decorations. The traditional tree is complete with childhood, handmade ornaments, plus many passed down through the years; it holds a commanding position in the Great Room where tea tables of four or six seats are draped and set. The dining room holds the buffet and has a 6-foot tree adorned with demitasse teacups, a dainty reminder of an era passed. This year, a teddy bear tree was added in honour of my mother Lady Anne. It glows with multi-coloured lights in the sitting room corner. Mother always preferred the coloured lights compared to my white ones.

This year is different. Quiet. It is just as special—in its own way.

John and I wish all of you the absolute best of the season and a very bright future. Treasure what you have. Share the love.

Wonderfully yours,


RECIPE: Kahlua Tiramisu Trifle

RECIPE: Kahlua Tiramisu Trifle

Jump to Recipe icon  Tiramisu is always a great finish to a hearty Italian meal, but what do you do if you are English and craving this decadent dessert? Why, you make it into a trifle!

Christmas High Tea is an annual tradition at the White Rose Manor. Each year, an English Trifle takes its rightful place on the serving table along side the Marinated Lamb with Mint Sauce. For fun, we experiment with different flavours as well as modify traditional desserts to fit the trifle theme. Here is the tiramisu version for you to enjoy! Individual serving size assembly is noted at the end.

Bain Marie (double boiler)
Wooden spoon
Stand or hand mixer with larger mixing bowl
Medium-sized mixing bowl
Dry measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Knife (for cutting ladyfingers to size, if desired)
Vegetable peeler
Parchment paper
Freezer (to freeze mixing utensils for whipping cream)

Kahula Tiramisu Trifle Recipe

Shareable Link: Kahlua Tiramisu Trifle Recipe

6 egg yolks
1.25 (1 ¼) C. Sugar
1.25 (1 ¼) C. Mascarpone Cheese
1.75 (1)¾ C. heavy Whipping Cream
2.5 (12 ounce) packages Ladyfingers
0.33 (⅓) C. Kahlua, or other coffee-flavoured liqueur (regular espresso/strong coffee for non-alcoholic version)
1 tsp. unsweetened Cocoa Powder, for dusting
1 (1 ounce) square semisweet Chocolate, for chocolate curls garnish


Step 1
Add water to base of bain maire (double boiler). Combine Egg Yolks and Sugar in the top of a bain marie. Reduce heat to low, and cook for about 10 minutes, constantly stirring. Remove from heat and whip until thick.

Step 2
Add Mascarpone Cheese to whipped egg yolk mixture Beat until combined. In a separate bowl, beat Whipping Cream to stiff peaks. Gently fold into yolk mixture and set aside.

Step 3
Line the bottom and sides of a large glass bowl with Ladyfingers. Brush with Kalua, other Coffee Liqueur, Espresso or strong Coffee. Spoon half of the cream filling over the Ladyfingers. Repeat process (Ladyfingers and Coffee Liqueur) until bowl is almost filled. Garnish with a sprinkling of Cocoa Powder. Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Step 4
Just prior to serving, garnish with Chocolate curls. To make the Chocolate curls, use a vegetable peeler and shave the edge of the chocolate bar onto a piece of parchment paper, then sprinkle as the finishing touch on the trifle.

INDIVIDUAL SERVING SIZE: Broken Ladyfingers? Smaller guest list? Here is an alternate serving suggestion–make individual servings instead of using a trifle bowl. To assemble, place broken ladyfingers into the bottom of individual serving bowls, add coffee flavour of choice, then a layer of the cream filling. Garnish with cocoa powder, chocolate curls, and stand two ladyfingers for the finished dessert.

Wonderfully yours,