"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!


Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones for your Downton Abbey Tea Party!

Vanilla Sugar Crusted Scones: simplelivingeating.com

Racking your brain for a theme for your Mother's Day Celebration... well, I'll let you in on a little secret your mom loves Downton Abbey and everything old England that goes with it. 

Everyone is openly or secretly enjoying the goings on of this certain show so wouldn't it be fun to have a Downton Abbey themed party for Mother's Day; complete with tea and scones

Nielsen Massey Vanillas: simplelivingeating.com

Don't skimp on the quality of anything including the vanilla you use. Get Nielsen-Massey Vanillas they have been around for more than a 100 years and their reputation is of one of finest manufacturers of extracts in the world. The real people from Downton Abbey's time may have munched on scones made with these amazing extracts. 

I've had vanilla scones before, but I never REALLY noticed the vanilla flavor until I ate the ones we made with Neilsen-Massey's Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and their Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean. Everyone in my family noticed the outstanding vanilla flavor, even my teenage son who usually doesn't notice much of anything lately. 

woman victorian dress: simplelivingeating.com
Me in my great-grandmother's dress. 

Years ago I co-hosted a Victorian Party with a friend who's house was built in the 1700's... it was a perfect setting. We all dressed up in Victorian clothes. I actually wore a dress that had belonged to my great-grandmother. It had a bone corset, can you image?

victorian underwear: simplelivingeating.com
Getting dressed for the party. My sister is the woman in red. 

We looked up Victorian recipes and of course made tea and scones along with other yummy rich desserts and pies. 

Playing pin the earing on Queen Victoria's ear.: simplelivingeating.com
Playing pin the earring on Queen Victoria's ear.

For entertainment we played parlor games... Pin the earring on Queen Victoria's ear, and musical chairs. Yes, back in Downton Abbey times adults, not kids played these games... but of course if you have kids attending your party they will enjoy the fun of having adults playing along with them.

playing musical chairs: simplelivingeating.com
My mum having the time of her life playing musical chairs. 

You and your mum will have so much fun with this party idea. You never know who might turn up at the party. We had a surprise visit from Jack the Ripper and a Lady Friend. 

Jack the Ripper and a Lady of the Evening. simplelivingeating.com
Jack the Ripper and a Lady of the Evening.

This post is sponsored by Nielsen-Massey all opinions of products are my own.

Nielsen was kind enough to give us permission to share their amazing scone recipe with you along with their tips for flavoring cream and tea! Check their website for more great recipes using Nielsen's Extracts. 

Vanilla Sugar-Crusted Scones

(Yield 1 to 1 ½ dozen)
1 Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Bean
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 oz. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1 egg
2 teaspoons Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract (or Organic Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
1 cup (or less) whipping cream
1/2 cup sugar
4 oz. (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
Position an oven rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 400 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Cut the vanilla bean lengthwise and scrape the seeds into a bowl; discard the bean. Combine the flour, baking powder, 1/3 cup sugar and the salt in a food processor container and process for 10 seconds.
Add equal amounts of the butter in three stages to the dry ingredients and process for 6 to 8 seconds per addition; the dough should have a slightly coarse texture. Place the dough in a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center. Add the egg, vanilla extract, 3/4 cup of the cream and the vanilla seeds. Stir with a fork 10-14 times awhile turning the bowl. Knead five or six times; the dough should hold together. Add enough of the remaining cream to reach the desired consistency if the dough does not hold together or seems dry.
Sprinkle 1/2 cup sugar on a work surface. Turn the dough onto the sugar work surface and knead gently so the dough holds together. Let rest for 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the dough into two discs 1 inch thick and 6 inch to 8 inch in diameter. Cut into wedges. Place the scones on the prepared pans. Brush with the butter. Bake for 17 to 20 minutes or until brown. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
A Marcy Goldman BetterBaking.Com Original Recipe for Nielsen-Massey.
Note: To experiment with a different flavor profile, try our Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans. To replace the Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla Beans, simply use the same amount of the Mexican or Gourmet Vanilla Beans.

According to Ellen Easton, author of the book Afternoon Tea ~Tips, Terms and Traditions and a tea consultant to luxury New York City hotels The Plaza and Waldorf-Astoria, it is never correct to use the term ‘high tea’ when referring to the genre of afternoon tea popularized during the Victorian era. “Low tea, better known as afternoon tea, became customary amongst the leisured class in 1840, in ladies’ sitting rooms during the low time of day between 3 and 5 p.m.,” said Easton. “Around 1900, at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, laborers had what is actually ‘high tea’ at the high time of day before sunset between 5 and 7 p.m. in pubs on raised tables or at home before returning to work the second factory shift. With this in mind, a 'low' afternoon tea is perfect for Mother’s Day, as the tradition was originally created to foster friendships.”
You can share this tidbit and other Downton Abbey-inspired fun facts at a special tea for mom and the other special ladies in your life while serving finger-foods such as scones, tea sandwiches and petit fours. Indulging in a bit of British tradition within your own home is extra special when you add Nielsen-Massey Vanillas to your menu:
  • Add 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to a pot of black tea along with cream or milk for the perfect vanilla-flavored centerpiece to your afternoon.
  • While Devonshire or clotted cream is a traditional accompaniment to scones, if you prefer a lighter whipped cream, try adding 1 to 2 teaspoons of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste to the cream, along with 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar, before whipping for a sweet, full flavor.
  • For a lighter dish, pair a teaspoon of fruity and floral Nielsen-Massey Tahitian Pure Vanilla Extract with fruit salad for an additional depth of flavor.


  1. Hi Diane,
    What a great party and to have your Grandmothers dress is very special. Your scones look delicious, wish I had one right now. Thanks for sharing and have a nice day!
    Miz Helen

    1. Thanks Miz Helen it's so funny that the dress fit too.

  2. these are wonderful scones, and I can almost smell the wonderful aroma
    And these dresses are simply awesome!

    1. Thanks Winnie,
      The vanilla flavor and smell are amazing in this scone recipe. I can't get over how beautiful the dresser were too.

  3. Those look absolutely divine ~ yum.

  4. Scones are my weakness. I would love to make them all the time, but my waistline would not approve. However, I do make them sometimes and I just might have to make these. They sound divine!
    Found you at the Clever Chick blog.

    1. I hear you we usually make these holidays and when we are having folks for brunch... well worth making. Really outstanding recipe.

  5. It looks like a great party! I love that you have such a special dress from your grandmother:) These scones look delicious and would be perfect for a Mother's Day Brunch!

    1. They really are great scones... I hope you try them out. Yes, the dress is very special.

  6. That party looks like so much fun! How often do adults get to take time out to dress up and play games?
    I like the sound of vanilla sugar crusted scones. I've only made scones a handful of times, but I do like them.
    Thank you for sharing, Diane.

    1. It was really fun to dress up and to play games like we were kids. This is a really great scone recipe, you'll enjoy them.

  7. I love scones! These look really great. I will have to give them a try. You look great in your grandmothers dress and it looks like the party was a great success! Thanks for linking this great post to the In and Out of the Kitchen Link Party! Oh yes, I love the dishes too!

    1. Thanks Cynthia,
      It was kinda strange that the dress fit me. It was actually my great-grandmother's dress. She must have been tall for her time.

  8. What a treat your vanilla crusted scones and a nice cup of tea will be someday. They look delicious and I will be trying your recipe. Thank you for sharing with the Clever Chicks Blog Hop! I hope you’ll join us again next week!

    Kathy Shea Mormino
    The Chicken Chick

  9. Visiting from Moonlight and Mason Jars. These sound delicious, I love vanilla.

    1. They are delicious... hope you get a chance to try them Laura.

  10. These look like some tasty scones! Sometimes even one ingredient really can make a difference. Why don't you stop by and share with us on Five Friday Finds? :)

  11. I LOVE THIS POST. Good Morning, Diane. I had just poured my first cup of coffee and opened my computer to check my e-mails when yours popped up. Not fair, I thought, I am hungry, have not really done a grocery run since arriving in Aspen last week, and the only bread I am staring at is whole wheat and stale. So I sorta resent this Post. My better Angel was thinking, "Gee, I wish Diane had some of the Olallieberry Preserves I brought home from Linn's in Cambria to enjoy with these beautiful scones." Then....I read all about your great party. Personally, I am hooked on "Mr. Selfridge." Nice Post, my friend.

    1. Thanks Mary,
      These were great scones and I love a good preserve. Yes, it was quite a party. Unfortunately my great-grandmother's dress feel apart afterwards. I donated what was left to our local library.


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