Wednesday, February 24, 2010

a heck of a scone!

I think by now you all know that I really really like scones. There is something about a scone that brings a smile to my face... the smell of the batter as I knead the dough, the satisfaction of making those cute little triangles and then the absolute delight when they puff up and expand as they bake - pretty little packages that are meant to be consumed warm and fresh from the oven.

I've been eyeing the following scone recipe for quite some time... another tempting little diddy from the cheeseboard collective works. Every single one of their scone recipes has proven to be a success... so I honestly don't know why I hadn't grabbed the necessary ingredients and made a batch of their Apple Walnut Scones; but I hadn't. I promise to rectify this and bake them again. And again. The intense smell of the raisins and apples had my mouth watering and my stomach rumbling as I was making these.

I did opt to use fresh chopped apples rather than using the 1 c. of dried apples that the original recipe called for. I think it's really up to you - I had some apples on hand and really do enjoy the moistness they offer to baked goods. I substituted the white sugar for brown sugar as well (same amounts). Feel free to use the original recipe rather than my little "twist" on things :0)

I also ended up making them into smaller scones - but as usual with the cheeseboard's scones - I assume that I would get 12 to 13 really decent sized scones. Or you can do like me and get a couple dozen out of the batter.

Apple Walnut Scones
3 1/2 c. flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tbsp baking powder
pinch of salt
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 c. salted butter, cold and grated, then frozen
1 c. (2 medium) apples, peeled and finely chopped
3/4 c. chopped walnut pieces
1/2 c. raisins
3/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 c. buttermilk

egg wash, brown sugar and a pinch of cinnamon to top

Don't preheat your oven, just line a baking pan with some parchment paper and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer stir together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Use your paddle attachment and stir on the lowest speed for about 30 seconds (everything is just combined).

Grab your grated butter out of the freezer and toss it into the bowl. Stir everything to combine - you're dough will start to come together and resemble damp sand.

Take the apples, walnuts and raisins, and dump them into the middle of the batter and mix (always at low speed).

Make a well in the centre and pour the cream and buttermilk into the centre. You want to stir until everything comes together around the paddle attachment. Now with your hand, knead together the batter on a generously floured surface.

Roll the dough out into a rectangular shape, divide the dough in half lengthwise and then cut each piece into triangles.

Now... I know that you probably want to bake these babies right away... they smell great, look great and your stomach is rumbling right? But wait. Place them on the prepared cookie sheet and then put them in your freezer. 20 minutes in the freezer makes a world of difference... honestly, those 20 minutes could mean the difference between a fluffy scone and a flat one.

This is when you should preheat your oven to 375 F.

Don't forget to egg wash the top of the uncooked scones and then sprinkle some brown sugar and cinnamon on top of each triangle. Now they're ready to be baked: 15 - 20 minutes for the small scones or 25 - 30 minutes for regular sized scones.

Remove from the oven, allow to sit on the cookie sheet for another minute or two, them remove and cool completely on wire racks. Or do like me... and just eat one. You've waited long enough.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

lemon and things

Winter feels like it is dragging on. Cold weather followed by snow... followed by some more snow. Sigh. Normally I would be embracing winter and would be skiing... but really, I just want to take my bike out and go for a good solid bike ride. Looking outside my window today my hopes are dashing... yes, it is snowing (again).

I decided to combat these winter blues by baking a loaf; and although banana loaves have been a comfort during the deep cold, I decided that I needed to spruce things up a bit. I needed new flavours that would fill my kitchen with fresh smells and remind me that spring really is just around the corner. And so I grabbed ingredients that brought the following to mind: exotic, hot weather and vacation :0)

The following quick bread filled the bill! My fingertips smelled like lemons after squeezing and zesting a couple of them. That bright, fresh, tart smell was exactly what I needed to bring a smile to my face and alleviate those winter blues. Add a whole lot of coconut and I felt as though I was in Thailand - sitting on the beach and eating fresh fruit while basking in the sun. Who would have thought baking a quick bread could do that?!

Lemon Coconut Quick Bread
2 1/2 c. flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 1/4 c. white sugar
1 3/4 c. finely shredded unsweetened coconut (don't use sweetened, it'll overpower the loaf)
2 eggs
3/4 c. milk
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (2 lemons)
zest of 1 lemon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. butter, melted

Heat your oven to 350 F. Grease your 9x5 loaf pan. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer (using your paddle attachment), mix together the flour, baking powder and salt. Stir in the sugar and the coconut.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, lemon zest and vanilla.

Make a well in the centre of your dry ingredients, then pour in the egg mixture. Stir on your lowest speed until all the ingredients are just combined.

Add the melted butter and stir everything until smooth. This shouldn't take more than 15-20 seconds.

Pour the batter into the prepared loaf pan and bake for 60 - 70 minutes. At 50 minutes cover the loaf with some tin foil so that it doesn't dry out.

Let the bread cool on a wire rack for 10 - 15 minutes - then remove it from the pan and allow it to cool - or slice into it. Lasts for almost a week in an airtight container... so you can keep those winter blues at bay for quite some time! ;0)

Friday, February 12, 2010

valentine's treats

Remember rice krispy treats?

I can remember how much I loved pouring a bowl of the cereal, topping it with honey and then pouring cold milk on top... the honey hardens, your spoon needs to break through it in order to get a spoonful of the sugary goodness. Sigh. Or remember how excited you would get when your mom would whip up a batch of rice kripsy treats; the gooey stickiness of melted marshmallows and butter, slightly soft and still warm? Double sigh.

My inter-web surfing has made me realize that valentine's day really is kind of a big deal in the foodie world... at least for bakers :0) And although I do love chocolate, chocolate and more chocolate, I wanted to do something less on the romantic side and more on the... yummy side of things.

Hence these treats. Totally unoriginal (Joy the Baker is the real inspiration); but still totally cute and fun; these uncomplicated goodies will bring a smile to your face; and if you're like me, bring you back to those happy childhood memories when a bowl of rice krispy's were the perfect start to the day - or when rice kripsy treats made you ridiculously happy.

FYI... any cookie cutter will do - so if hearts aren't your thing (or you're anti valentine's day) you can still make these... any shape and size is welcome!

Chocolaty Rice Krispy Treats
1/2 c. butter
1 bag (405g) mini marshmallows
7 c. rice kripsy cereal
1 1/2 c. semi-sweet chocolate chips

Line a 9x13" pan with parchment paper, allowing the paper to overlap the sides (or grease VERY well with butter). Set aside.

In a medium bowl, measure out the 7 cups of rice kripsy cereal.

In a large sauce pan over medium heat melt the butter. Add the bag of mini marshmallows and stir (with a wooden spoon or ready stiff spatula) until they have completely melted.

Dump in the rice kripsies and stir until all the cereal is coated in the melted marshmallow goodness (I kept my sauce pan over the lower heat). While still hot, pour everything onto your pan. Press the cereal into an even layer - I used my fingers, moistening my fingertips with clean water to make the process a little easier and less messy.

Place your pan in the fridge and allow to cool - but you don't want it to completely harden. I left mine for about 20 minutes.

Once cooled, remove the entire slab of rice krispies from the pan. I found that using the parchment paper made the removal of the slab very easy.

Grab your cookie cutter (mine ended up being a heart shaped one), and cut out as many shapes as you can get. Place the shaped krispies on another piece of parchment paper.

Once your treats are cut and prepped, melt your chocolate chips. Place the chocolate in a heat proof bowl over a small amount (1/4 inch) of simmering water. Stir with a whisk to melt completely.

Now for the fun part... grab your shapes, dip the tops of them into the melted chocolate and then place (chocolate side up) back on the parchment paper. Once every shape has been dipped, return them to the fridge to allow to harden.

Sigh. Another delicious memory associated with rice krispies. Thank you Kellogg's and Joy (the baker) :0)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

baking for Haiti

I'm really excited about this entry... no, it's not a recipe. It's even better.

27 bloggers got together and created a BlogAid cookbook... I was doing my weekly blog surf on Tartelette's blog and came across this... and thought, heck - we all know I heart baking and I heart baking blogs, and we all know that Haiti holds a very near and dear place in my heart - so let's put all of that together and offer some support!

The proceeds from the book sales will go straight to Haitian relief via the Red Cross and Doctors without Borders. PLUS... West Canadian AND Blurb are matching the dollar amount of the proceeds raised, to TRIPLE those dollars going to Haiti. And until February 12th, the Canadian government will match that amount. I'd say that is pretty awesome.

It's a POD (print-on-demand) system, meaning the books are printed and shipped as they're ordered and arrive at your doorstep in about 8 days. You can purchase yours for a good cause by going here

I know that everyone has been really very generous - but if you want to keep helping and are recipe book obsessed like me - this seems like a no brainer to me :0) I'll be sure to reference the book once it lands on my doorstep.


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

same recipe different cookies

These cookies are the same as yesterday... only instead of being mini peanut butter chocolate chip cookies they became regular peanut butter and chocolate chip cookies. I tossed several handfuls of chocolate chips into the peanut butter batter... next time, I'll add more. Too much chocolate? No such thing :0)

Use your mini ice cream scooper to make a good sized ball of dough. Flatten it down either with your palm or with the teeth of a fork. Bake @ 350 for 10 minutes - the bottom of the cookie will be golden - but the rest of the cookie won't be over-baked and then dry out.

Allow to cool completely on a wire rack. Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Cookies are always such a nice thing to have on hand don't you think.

one bite cookie

Aren't these cute? Doesn't the thought of peanut butter and chocolate - salty and sweet just make your mouth water?! These pretty little treats were brought to my attention when I was cyber surfing and discovered (thanks to a hint from Joy the Baker) 17 and Baking... an absolutely beautiful, fun and fresh blog. Elissa (the blogger) is super enthusiastic about baking... which makes me super enthusiastic about trying out her recipes.

Tiny Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Buttons - the name alone (and accompanying pictures) made me want to roll up my sleeves, pull out my stand mixer and get baking. I did change it up a little bit from Elissa's recommendation... I didn't make 15 dozen 1/4 tsp sized cookies... I made 9 dozen 1 tsp sized cookies. You get more peanut butter to chocolate ratio - but I'm ok with that. As my friend Audrey said - it's almost like eating chips - you can sit with a little bowl of them in front of you and just pop them in your mouth... without even realizing that the bowl is almost empty!

Next time I have helpers in the kitchen though, I'll get right on baking 15 dozen cookies :0) I'll leave it up to you whether you decide to make them tiny buttons or only mini cookies... salty/sweet goodness either way!

Mini Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
3/4 c. peanut butter
1/2 c. salted butter, room temperature
1/3 c. white sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 egg
3 tbsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt (I used vanilla salt)
White sugar for rolling
Chocolate chips (any type)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the peanut butter and butter together. Add the two sugars and continue to beat until it lightens up (about 1 minute). Add the egg, milk, and the vanilla and beat until fluffy.

Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine the flour, baking soda and salt together. Beat the dry ingredients in 3 additions to the peanut butter mixture.

Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow to chill for at least 10 minutes in the fridge - it makes it easier to work with.

Now, at this point it was recommended that I use a 1/4 tsp and roll the dough into 1/2 inch balls. I choose to change things up a bit... so I grabbed my 1 tsp and rolled the dough into slightly bigger than 1 inch balls.

Roll each ball in the white sugar (rolling sugar) and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet. They don't spread while baking, but try not to bake too many at once (2 dozen max) since you need to work fast to top each baked cookie with a chocolate chip.

Bake for 8 minutes (if making the tiny buttons bake for 5 minutes).

Remove from the oven,IMMEDIATELY press a chocolate chip into the centre of each cookie. Leave the cookies for a minute, then remove from the sheet and cool completely on a wire rack.

Elissa says that the cookies will last several days in an airtight container at room temperature... I don't know if that is true or not. They are all gone. Two batches of them. I think that is a sign of a good cookie. Don't you?!

Monday, February 8, 2010

banana bread for gluten free people

My roomie Allison is gluten intolerant: as is my friend Mary. I also know other people who feel better with a little less wheat in their diets, so I've been testing some gluten-free recipes in order to satisfy their sweet tooth (after all, just because you can't eat wheat doesn't mean you shouldn't enjoy a treat or two).

I'd previously stumbled upon the Gluten Free Girl blog and tested out her brownies. I've blogged about them a few times already. They are AWE-SOME. The best brownies ever. I decided to take my commitment to gluten-free baking options to the next step... a recipe book. So I ordered Shauna's gluten-free girl from amazon and dove right in... to her chocolate banana bread recipe.

A lesson I have learnt baking this bread - gluten free breads need time to bake... I left it in the oven for 65 minutes and it probably could have used another 10 - 12 minutes. I've been enjoying the half-raw pieces (only the centre, the outer slices of the bread came out perfectly fine) all week... moist banana bread... sigh. Delish!

Next time I'm going to add some chopped pecans and drizzle the top of it with a maple syrup sauce... how delicious does that sound?! I'm pretty excited... excited enough to go home and give it a go! (I'll let you know how it all turns out).

Chocolate Banana Bread
3 large ripe bananas, mashed
1/2 c. butter, room temperature
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 c. sour cream
1 c. teff flour
1/2 c. sweet white rice flour
1/2 c. brown rice flour (or sorghum)
1/2 c. tapioca flour
1/2 c. finely ground almonds (or ground hazelnuts)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla salt
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3 tbsp cocoa powder
3 tbsp brown sugar - to top

Preheat your oven to 350 F. Grease your loaf pan with butter or non-stick spray. Set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, cream together the butter and sugars; use your paddle attachment starting at a low speed and increasing the speed in order to get that creamy texture. Add the eggs, vanilla extract and sour cream to the batter. Then mix in the mashed bananas.

In another bowl, stir together all the dry ingredients (the flours, salt, xanthan gum, baking powder and soda, and the cocoa powder).

Take the bowl off your stand mixer, and grab a rubber spatula. Fold the dry ingredients into the wet batter, 1/4 cup at a time, until everything is just mixed together.

Scrape the dough into the pan, top with the brown sugar (covering the surface of the dough). Place the pan in your oven and bake for between 65 - 80 minutes (depending on your oven) - check if it's done by using the toothpick test (inserted in the centre, the bread is ready if the toothpick comes out clean).

When done, remove from the oven and allow to sit in the pan for 10 minutes. Turn it over onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely... or serve warm.

note: Shauna baked hers in a 9-inch cake pan so her baking time was about 40 minutes.

Friday, February 5, 2010

i heart david... and his cookie recipe

I've been busy in my kitchen all week - first I attempted Joy the Baker's Root beer float cake (delish... will post my attempt soon), then I baked Elissa's (from 17 and baking - awesome blog btw) tiny peanut butter chocolate chip buttons, some of my kidney bean cookies (which, although Zabi said "sound just awful" they aren't... they are fantastic!!), many many banana loafs and finally these cookies.

These cookies are simply perfect. A thin and crispy cookie that still maintains a chewy centre - nothing dry, hard or dense about these babies. These cookies rocked my world this week.

I'd been asked by my cousin Olivier to make bake cookies. He wanted plain ol' chocolate chip cookies... he claimed (correctly) that I don't have a regular chocolate chip cookie recipe on my blog... it's true. I seem to either hit up triple chocolate cookies or I favour cookies with oatmeal, raisins, nuts... nothing that is perfect for dunking in a tall glass of milk after a hard day at school :0)

This recipe is for Olivier - as are the dozen cookies I got out of it (well, minus 1 cookie - you can't blame a girl for taste testing can you?). Super simple - you should try making these too!

Oh, and a HUGE thank you to David Lebovitz (whom I don't know personally, but feel like I do whenever I surf his blog) - these really are the greatest "plain ol'" cookies. EVER.

David Lebovitz's Great Chocolate Chip Cookie
1/2 c. white sugar
1/2 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2 inch cube pieces
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/4 tsp salt (if using salted butter, you can omit this)
1 1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Preheat your oven to 300F (you want your racks to be in the top 1/3rd of the oven). Line (or spray) baking sheets with parchment paper (I used 4 cookie sheets).

In the bowl of your stand mixer, and using your paddle attachment, beat the sugars and the butter together until smooth (a couple of minutes). Mix in the egg, vanilla and baking soda.

In a smaller bowl, mix together your flour and salt (if adding). Mix them into the sugar/butter batter. Finally, mix in the chocolate chips (always at the stir speed of your mixer).

You might think that you are using way too many chocolate chips for the butter/sugar/flour ratio. YOU AREN'T! Chocolate chips are good - so dump them in!

I used my mini ice-cream scoop (great investment) and scooped out the dough, placed each ball on the cookie sheets (9 per sheet), spaced quite a bit apart (these spread). Flatten each of them a little with your hand.

Bake for 18 minutes (or golden brown). You don't want to over bake though... so once the edges are golden and firm, take the cookies out of the oven, allow to rest on the cookie sheet for 2 minutes and then remove and allow to cool on a wire rack.

Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature. I'd like to say that they last much longer... but these are cookies. They aren't meant to last forever... grab your glass, pour some milk and enjoy.

I was able to get 23 cookies out of this recipe.