Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Orange Cranberry Scones

Scones are awesome. For the longest time I couldn't appreciate their greatness. I would always choose a muffin or other assorted pastry over a scone. And then I had these, and the world opened up to me.
Okay, so maybe not so extreme. But these are really good scones. I made them a while back when we were going away for the weekend and wanted to take a breakfast treat with us. I love the mixture of cranberry and orange, and so do my parents (this was back before my mom realized she had Celiac disease), so we went with that combo. After some searching I found Ina Garten's recipe on Food Network, which I know I can trust. I skipped the glaze because we weren't eating them the day we made them, but I've included it in the recipe.

Cranberry Orange Scones (from Food Network)
4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
2 tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon grated orange zest
3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 cup dried cranberries
1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.
Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn't stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles.
Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners' sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.

Monday, February 27, 2012

TWD: Chocolate Truffle Tartlets

This week's Tuesdays with Dorie recipe was chosen by Steph of A Whisk and a Spoon, Spike of Spike Bakes, Jaime of Good Eats and Sweet Treats, and Jessica of Cookbookhabit.
Oh, these tarts. My apologies for not posting on time, but I have a real excuse - I was in the Dominican Republic! It was a great vacation with my family and my best friend. Obviously I couldn't bake at a resort, but not wanting to fall behind already, I figured I would make this when we got back. I decided to do it yesterday, thinking it wouldn't take too long.
Here's the thing. It's not very complicated. None of the steps take lots of time, but there are a lot of steps. There are chilling times, baking times, lots of things to chop and beat, etc, etc. It took a while. Luckily I was able to get them done by 7, and my mom and I ate these along with pão de queijo for our own little Oscars party :)
Look, they're good. I'm not going to deny that. Hey, this is Julia Child we're talking about! But are they that good? To be worth another afternoon making them? I don't think so. I'm happy I made them, but I probably won't do it again. The crust is interesting to make, but it ended up being quite crumbly and dry (although, in all fairness, I made it gluten-free for my mom, which may have affected the texture). The filling was good but resembled a simple flourless chocolate cake, although I did love the idea of chocolate chunks in it. The biscotti didn't stay very crunchy (although again, this could be due to the gluten-free cookies I used), but was yummy. Overall, a good one-time recipe.

I know other people loved it, so if you want to try it for yourself you can find the recipe on any of the hosts' blogs.
*To make it gluten-free, substitute the flour for all-purpose gluten-free flour (or a mix of various flours if you know how to do that), add 1/4 tsp. xanthan gum, and substitute some sort of gluten-free cookie for the biscotti (I used these).

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Chocolate Cake with Raspberry Mousse Filling

Okay, so technically this was a birthday cake (if you're reading this, happy birthday Alicia!), but it would be PERFECT for Valentine's day. It was for my mom's friend's party, and she had asked me to make the cake. She said she liked raspberries, dark chocolate, and mocha. Figuring out how to combine ingredients like those is the fun part!
I started off with a simple chocolate cake recipe. I use it for all my chocolate cakes, because it's super simple and comes out moist and delicious every time. It's one of those "wacky cakes", which doesn't take any dairy or eggs but instead uses a chemical reaction with vinegar and baking soda. So yes, if you didn't smother it in cream and butter like I did, it would be vegan :) OK, so I'm going on about how easy this is, but I really messed it up. Like, dropped-a-cake-while-pulling-it-out-of-the-oven-and-had-to-start-all-over messed it up. Oh well, it just went from simple to time-consuming!!

The filling was the hardest thing for me to decide on. I knew from the start that raspberry mousse would be a good choice, but I couldn't find a recipe. Most of the recipes call for raw egg whites, but we knew there would be a little kid there, so that was out. (By the way, she asked me to make her a "rainbow ladybug cake" for her birthday. looking forward to trying to figure that one out...) I finally found one that used gelatin instead, which was another problem for my vegetarian-ness, but it was easily fixed by swapping in agar-agar (made from seaweed but works the same way).

The frosting was a simple chocolate buttercream. The cake was not hard to put together, especially because the layers aren't crumbly at all. I used some leftover mousse to write on top, but we still had TONS left. No worries, it was happily consumed with cake scraps. Enjoy!!
*Those silver balls? Put on with tweezers. One by one. Just saying.

Easy Chocolate Layer Cake (from Baking Bites)
(a.k.a. “Wacky Cake”)
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 cups sugar
1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 tbsp vinegar
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 cups cold water
1 tbsp coffee powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Grease two 9-inch round cake pans, line with circles of parchment paper, and grease again.
In a large mixing bowl, mix flour, sugar, cocoa, soda and salt. Make three wells in the flour mixture. In one put vanilla; in another the vinegar, and in the third the oil. Dissolve the coffee powder in the cold water (or just use cold coffee for a slightly more mocha taste) and pour the water over the mixture. Stir until smooth. Divide evenly into prepared pans.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.
Cool in pans on wire racks for 15 minutes. Turn cakes out of pans onto a plate (or another rack), remove parchment paper, and reinvert onto racks to cool completely before frosting.
If storing overnight before frosting (they can be made a day ahead), just wrap completely in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Raspberry Mousse Filling (from Cook From The Hip)
10 oz bag frozen raspberries
1 cup sugar
1 envelope unflavored gelatin (I substituted an equal quantity of agar-agar)
1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Heat the raspberries and sugar in a small saucepan. Stir until all of the raspberries break down and are heated through. Run the raspberries through a strainer and into a new saucepan. Add the gelatin to the raspberries and heat until the gelatin is dissolved. Remove from the heat and set aside.
In the bowl of an electric stand mixer, whip the heavy cream until it form soft peaks. Fold the cooled raspberries into the whipped cream.

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting (from Savory Sweet Life)
1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks or 1/2 pound), softened (but not melted!)
3 1/2 cups confectioners (powdered) sugar
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract or 1 teaspoon almond extract
2-4 tablespoons milk or heavy cream

Cream butter for a few minutes in a mixer with the paddle attachment on medium speed. Turn off the mixer. Sift 3 cups powdered sugar and cocoa into the mixing bowl. Turn your mixer on the lowest speed (so the dry ingredients do not blow everywhere) until the sugar and cocoa are absorbed by the butter. Increase mixer speed to medium and add vanilla extract, salt, and milk/cream and beat for 3 minutes. If your frosting needs a more stiff consistency, add a little more sugar. If your frosting needs to be thinned out, add additional milk 1 tablespoon at a time.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Muffins

Sometimes you really need a last-minute treat. This used to happen all the time when I was at my old school, because we had these little groups called advisings that met once a week. My advising had a snack schedule, where each week somebody different would bring in a snack. I used to realize the day before that the next day was my turn, and I had to bake a quick treat (Seeing as how I was always bringing in homemade food, it was kind of expected of me). These were some muffins that I made one night for school, and they were pretty yummy. Not the greatest muffins out there, but I had been wanting to make a recipe from the book they are in, because as you look through it you really just want to dive in to a mountain of muffins and eat your way through. They are a nice last-minute treat or breakfast (hey, muffins are the perfect excuse to have cake for breakfast). Enjoy!

Vanilla Chocolate Chip Muffins (from Muffins Galore)

2 cups self-rising flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup superfine sugar (I just use regular)
Scant 1 cup milk or semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 12-cup muffin pan or line the cups with paper muffin cups.
Mix the flour and baking powder in a large bowl. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar and chocolate chips.
In a separate bowl, mix together the eggs, milk, and vanilla extract, then pour the milk mixture all at once into the dry ingredients. Mix briefly until just combined.
Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, dividing it evenly. Bake in the oven for 18-20 minutes, or until well risen, golden, and firm to the touch. Cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire rack. Serve warm or cold.
Muffin tip: For chunkier chocolate chip muffins, measure 1 cup from a bar/block of milk or semi-sweet chocolate, then cut it into small chunks using a sharp knife, and use the chopped chocolate instead of the chocolate chips.
Makes 12.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Apple Pieeeee

Remember way back when I made a whole bunch of TWD recipes and posted them all at once? Well, one of those was Dorie's DELICIOUS "all-american, all-delicious" apple pie. I just wanted to give a quick shoutout to this amazing pie, which I have made many times since then and made again recently. I think it's the perfect homemade apple pie - not too sweet, nice and cinnamon-y, and full of apples. I usually don't use Dorie's crust, but that's up to you - use your favorite recipe. Give it a try!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

TWD: White Loaves

This is a quick post, as I am super busy tonight. This is the first ever recipe for the new book, Baking with Julia!! I am super excited to be in this group! It was chosen by the great girls at Slush and Someone's in the Kitchen.
This was a fairly simple recipe, and probably the most successful bread I've ever made (not that I've made many). I added in a little cinnamon sugar swirl with butter when I was rolling it up. This was delicious as toast, and I will make it again in the future if I want a simple white loaf. If using the cinnamon swirl bread and wanting to eat it plain, I would recommend adding in a little more sugar to the actual dough - it was a little bland, but did have a great texture. I'm sure it would be delicious with raisins as well.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake

Oh. My. God. How is it that I have been baking for years, and had never tried this until this past Thanksgiving?
As you can probably guess, I spend quite a lot of time searching through my favorite blogs and cooking websites looking for recipes. People always made pumpkin cheesecake around fall, and I always thought it looked SO good! This past October, we went out for dinner to an Italian restaurant in the neighborhood. We were with some guests from Brazil who had never had cheesecake before, so of course we decided that we had to order them a slice. When we asked the waitress, she said that they had just gotten their pumpkin cheesecakes. It was meant to be! :)
When it came time to plan the desserts for Thanksgiving, I decided that instead of pumpkin pie (we always do one pumpkin, one pecan, and one apple), I was going to make a pumpkin cheesecake. My dad, the pumpkin pie lover in the family, "reluctantly" agreed. I turned to a valuable source: Food Network! This recipe was so easy and quick, which is great, especially when there are so many other things to be made. I made it gluten-free for my mamma by substituting gluten-free shortbread for the graham cracker crumbs. It was delicious! Don't tell anyone, but I may have had it for breakfast the next day... shh...
It may be past Thanksgiving and Christmas, but no time is wrong for pumpkin desserts. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Cheesecake (from Food Network)
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 stick melted salted butter
3 (8-ounce) packages cream cheese, at room temperature
1 (15-ounce) can pureed pumpkin
3 eggs plus 1 egg yolk
1/4 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

For crust:
In medium bowl, combine crumbs, sugar and cinnamon. Add melted butter. Press down flat into a 9-inch springform pan. Set aside.

For filling:
Beat cream cheese until smooth. Add pumpkin puree, eggs, egg yolk, sour cream, sugar and the spices. Add flour and vanilla. Beat together until well combined.

Pour into crust. Spread out evenly and place in oven for 1 hour. Remove from the oven and let sit for 15 minutes. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.

*As you will notice if you click on the link, this is a Paula Deen recipe. Trust me, I know all about the whole diabetes scandal, but honestly, who cares what she decides to keep private? Yes, most of her recipes are full of fat, but no one said her show was meant to be about healthy eating. This recipe = yum!