Have you ever heard of a Middle of the Night Party? We had one last night here at The Café. It’s a crazy but fun tradition and here’s how it works – one night during the time my granddaughters are visiting here in the States or while I’m a guest at their home in London, I clandestinely enter their room in the middle of the night, gently wake them asking the same question each time; “Do you want to go back to sleep, or do you want to have a middle-of-the-night-party?” The answer is always a bit dazed, albeit confident, “Party!”
I carry each of the sleepy-eyed girls downstairs to a fun little table I’ve set up in advance with my best china, or perhaps a small tea set – just their size. With eyes suddenly becoming wide, they view the party scene; candles, pretty napkins, something special to sip on and of course, a few yummy sweet treats. We talk, sing a few songs and might light sparklers, pop party poppers (outside of course, so “the grownups” won’t hear!) or play a short game.
Then it’s back to bed with a stern (Well, as stern as this grammy can muster) warning; “Be sure to go right back to sleep, or your parents will NEVER allow us to party again in the middle of the night!”. You might not believe this, but I’ve never heard a peep out of the wee-hour princesses after returning them to their pumpkin coaches beds.
My girlies, sadly, head back to England tomorrow, but I savored each moment of our special party. These unusual celebrations are a huge hit with the them too. Last night they told me that they would like to have these parties “till they got married” and then “Could grammy please come to our houses and wake our husbands too?” We’ll have to see about that – Prince Charmings don’t generally appreciate being woken in the middle of the night for a tea party.
Papa was kind enough to join us this time and capture some photos from our crazy adventure. The girls love having him join their parties, but if I happen to be visiting them in England without Papa, they beg to call him and guess what they say? “Papa, would you like to go back to sleep or would you like to have a middle of the night party with us?”
These little sweeties enjoy helping in the kitchen and when I pulled out the ingredients for these fun Kissing Strawberry Meringues, they were eager to participate. They loved the pretty pink color and piping circles around the chocolate kisses. I didn’t tell them they were making treats for their own party!
- 4 egg whites from 4 large eggs
- ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
- 1 ¼ cups sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- ½ cup strained strawberry jam* (warm the jam in the microwave for 20-30 seconds before straining, it will be infinitely easier to push through a strainer)
- 48 milk or dark chocolate Hersheys Kisses
- Preheat oven to 200°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Unwrap Hershey Kisses (an excellent kid's job) and place 24 Kisses on each sheet for a total of 48.
- With an electric mixer, beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar; beat until soft peaks form. Increase speed to medium-high. Add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until sugar is dissolved and stiff peaks form. Beat in vanilla extract until combined.
- Prepare a large pastry bag (or a large resealable plastic bag with one corner snipped off) with a large star tip. Spoon meringue batter into bag drizzling 1-2 teaspoons jam over each large spoonful. Pipe a circle around each kiss and continue piping two gradually smaller circles on top of the first circle, forming a larger "kiss".
- Place the two sheet pans in pre-heated oven and bake for one hour. Turn oven off and allow meringues to remain in oven at least 1 hour or until completely cooled.
~ *Look for the brightest, prettiest strawberry jam you can find. I used my Strawberry Freezer Jam as it keeps it beautiful color even after being frozen for months!
~ Eggs separate more easily when they are warm. Place egg whites in bowl and bring to room temperature. To speed up this process, place bowl of egg whites into a slightly larger bowl containing lukewarm water.
~ Make sure beater and mixing bowl are spotlessly clean. Any grease in the mixture will deflate meringue.
~ It's more difficult to make succesful meringues when the weather is humid. Moisture will prevent egg whites from forming stiff peaks.
Adapted from McCormick