Aug 31, 2012

Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones

The first scone I had ever tried in my life was one of those maple oat scones from Starbucks.  I know very traditional, right?  They are so completely laden with sugar, have the taste of a donut, and the texture of a doorstop.
I believe scones are a British classic that should be enjoyed as intended.  Plain, buttery, and soft in texture, loaded with clotted cream and jam, khalas (Arabic for 'and that's it' typically used about 5 times in any given sentence)  Anything else would be like the brits making a tofu version of fish and's just not something to mess with. 
With that said I took a classic scone recipe and added raspberries and dark chocolate chunks.  What can I say, I am a Starbucks girl at heart.
You can easily leave these two ingredients out and have yourself a lovely, plain scone which would be totally fine.  But in my house they'd end up getting pushed to the back of the fridge behind the cocktail olives and would camp out there for years.  I had to fussy them up, I couldn't help it.
For my British friends and readers, if you have a family recipe or one that you think would top this, please send and I will post.  I'd love to hear your variations and advice for making the perfect scone.  Mine turned out a bit flat and dense...maybe I rolled the dough too thin?  Or maybe it's better to use self-raising flour?  Please help this poor Yank.
Raspberry & Dark Chocolate Chunk Scones
makes about eight 4" scones
200 grams all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 1/2 tablespoons white sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
60 grams cold butter, cut into cubes
140-150 ml buttermilk (I used 150 ml and the dough was extremely sticky, next time I would start with 140 ml and add additional if needed)
3/4 cup frozen raspberries
1/2 cup chopped dark chocolate (chocolate chips would be fine also)
For brushing, 1 egg yolk and 1 tablespoon milk
Serve with clotted cream (thank you Zoe) and raspberry jam
*this is the FIRST recipe I've ever shared in metric.  I also worked in metric when preparing the scones and WOW it really is more convenient than our US measuring system (cups, ounces) so long as you have a kitchen scale.  The accuracy far supersedes our little cup system.  By measuring by weight and not volume, you are guaranteed precise measurements every time. 
Preheat oven to 220 degrees C (425 F) and line a baking sheet with waxed paper.
In the bowl of a food processor, add the flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt.  Pulse for a few seconds to combine.  Add the cubes of cold butter.
Pulse the food processor a few times to incorporate the cubes of butter.  The consistency should be grainy and the remaining lumps of butter should be smaller than a pea.

Transfer mixture to a medium sized bowl and add the raspberries and chocolate.

Mix to combine.

Add the milk and combine with a wooden spoon.  If you find your mixture is too wet, slowly add more flour, no more than 1 tablespoon at a time.

Transfer dough to a well floured surface and knead quickly, about 3 to 4 times.  Do not over work the dough or the scones will become chewy after baking.  Pat into a round disc, about 3cm high (1.25") 

Using a cookie cutter, cut out scones and transfer to the baking sheet.  Re-roll the remaining dough and cut out additional scones.  I didn't have a round cookie cutter so I used this metal wine glass...did the trick!

Lightly beat the egg yolk and milk together and brush the tops of the scones.  Bake for 13-15 minutes or until lightly golden brown.  Move baking sheet to a wire rack to cool.

Serve warm with the clotted cream and jam.  Also try to share, I know it's difficult.

Recipe slighty adapted from Delicious Days

Aug 24, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough stuffed Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache

Whew what a mouthful!

With this post I really have nothing new to teach you.  There are no special techniques or instructions needed here.  The only reason I'm sharing this recipe is because these cupcakes are rich and decadent....and most importantly, EASY.  Isn't that reason enough?
Although this is supposed to be a 'learning' blog, sometimes I miss relaxing in the kitchen making something simple, stress-free, calorie-loaded, and oh-f-that's-good.
The kiddos would also enjoy helping out with this one.  Plus they can eat the cookie dough as it doesn't call for any eggs, whoop-whoop!
My only advice here would be to use a high quality chocolate and cocoa for the brownies as well as for the ganache.  We're only working with a few ingredients so whatever brand of chocolate and cocoa you're using will really shine through.
With that said, I do have a you ever go to Ikea and see those milk, dark, and white chocolate bars?  We were at the cash counter last week during Ramadan and there were LOADS of them stacked high-as-hell staring at you like neener-neener you can't touch this 
If you're not familiar with the holy month of Ramadan, you are not allowed to eat in public during the daytime.  So here we are stuck in line, lots of mouthy, noisy children about, chocolate in your face, and no chance to eat it. 
So I bought 5.    
If that was a marketing scheme by Ikea, damn it worked.
We arrive back home and I'm contemplating my new stash.  What in the hell am I going to do with Ikea chocolate?  BUT, let me tell you, it's not bad!  If fact I thought it was pretty darn good.  I only bought the dark chocolate but it had a good snap to it when I broke it into pieces (a good sign that it's not full of fat or additives) and melted like a dream!  With the amount of chocolate I go through each month, I will most definitely be purchasing some again soon.  And for 8dhs a pop, I'd say that's a good deal.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough stuffed Brownie Cupcakes with Chocolate Ganache
makes approx. 16 cupcakes
printable version
For the Cookie Dough:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
3/4 cup white sugar
1 cup (8oz.) butter, melted
1 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
6 tablespoons whole milk

For the Cupcakes:
8 ounces semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar

3/4 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder

For the Ganache:
8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, finely chopped (chocolate chips are ok)
1cup heavy cream
First you'll need to prepare the cookie dough as it needs to harden up in the freezer for a few hours prior to baking the cupcakes.  In the bowl of a stand-up mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, stir together the flour, salt, brown sugar, and granulated sugar. Add butter and vanilla. Mix until a dry dough forms.

Add chocolate chips and mix on lowest speed.

Once the chips are thoroughly mixed into the dough, add the milk 1 tablespoon at a time with the machine on the lowest speed.

Roll the dough into balls, about 1 tablespoon each.  Continue rolling the dough until you have about 16 pieces.  Place balls onto a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil and freeze for two hours, or until firm.

Our freezer is too narrow to fit a cookie sheet so I had to take the shelf out, line with aluminum foil and place the balls of dough directly on top.

To prepare the brownie batter, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.  Line a muffin tin with paper liners. 

thank you Kristin I LOVE these liners, so cute!

Place chocolate and butter into a heatproof bowl and set over a pan of simmering water.  Be sure to not let the boiling water touch the bottom of the bowl.  Stir occasionally until the chocolate and butter are melted, about 4 to 5 minutes.

Remove bowl from heat.  Whisk in sugar and salt until mixture is smooth.  Add eggs and whisk to combine.  Gently whisk in flour and cocoa until smooth.  Do not over mix.

Using a tablespoon (or cookie scoop) fill lined tins about 2/3 full with the brownie batter.  Take the cookie dough balls from freezer and place one ball in the middle of each cupcake, pushing down slightly, but no need to fully submerge. 


Bake for about 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the brownie portion of the cupcake comes out clean.  Do not test for doneness through the cookie dough.

Transfer muffin tins to a wire rack and let cool before removing the cupcakes from the pan.

To prepare the ganache, transfer chopped chocolate to a heat safe bowl.  Place heavy cream in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle simmer.  Remove from heat and pour cream on top of the chopped chocolate.

Do not stir at this point.  Let the chocolate and cream sit for 10 minutes.  Using a whisk, combine the cream and chocolate until smooth and shiny.

Take the cupcakes and flip up-side-down and swirl in the ganache to achieve an even coating.  Turn right side up and place on a cookie sheet until the ganache hardens, about two hours.  To speed up the process cupcakes can also be transferred to the fridge.

*I find these are much better served cold as the cookie dough can become quite soft if let out too long.


 Cookie dough recipe courtesy of Sprinkle Bakes

Brownie Cupcake recipe courtesy of Martha Stewart


Aug 15, 2012

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart

Holy crap-a-roo I gained 5 pounds.  My dear husband told me it's 'water-weight.'  He must have went to some sort of 'how to be a good husband and avoid getting a knee to the groin by your wife' class and learned that is a safe thing to say to a woman who's gained weight.

In a delusional attempt to avoid accepting I did actually gain weight, I believed him. 

Since I cannot wallow in my muffin top I decided the blog must go.  This week I'm sharing a 'healthy' recipe.  Well, sort of.  I guess you can say it's a lighter option rather than a healthy one. Typically fruit tarts are made with a butter-based crust, however this one uses graham crackers, whoop-de-doo.  Additionally this recipe swaps out the traditional egg-based custard for a sweetened light cream cheese.  Oh and don't forget the strawberries.  Fruit!  Yay fruit!  Fruit is healthy.  See we don't need Richard Simmons.  We just need fruit pie.

Strawberry Almond Cream Tart 
makes one 9 inch tart

*note: for 10 inch round tart pan, you'll need to double the crust and filling ingredients


For the crust
36 honey graham crackers (about 9 sheets)
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
4 teaspoons water
Cooking spray

For the filling
2/3 cup light cream cheese
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon almond extract

For the glaze
6 cups small fresh strawberries with stems removed, divided (you can use 2 cups frozen strawberries and 4 cups fresh if you'd like)
2/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

For the candied almonds
1/2 cup sliced almonds
 2 tablespoons sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 C).  Place graham crackers in a food processor; process until crumbly. Add 2 tablespoons sugar, butter, and water; pulse just until moist. 

Spray your tart pan (with a removable bottom) with cooking spray.  Transfer crumbs into prepared pan.

Press into the bottom of the pan and up the sides.  Thickness should be around 3/4".  As you can see I realized here that my pan was too big and had to go and prepare an additional batch of crumbs for the sides.  If you're using a 9 inch pan, you should have enough crumbs and won't need the additional batch.

You can also see here I ran out of graham crackers and had to use digestive biscuits for the sides.  Either cookie will work just fine and you'd never even notice once it's finished!  Bake at 350 degrees F for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool completely on a wire rack.

To prepare the candied almonds, combine the 1/2 cup sliced almonds with the 2 tablespoons of sugar in a small frying pan.  Cook on medium heat until the sugar melts and the almonds are golden brown.  You'll need to keep an eye on them and stir frequently as they can burn quickly as the almonds are sliced quite thin.  Transfer to a sheet of aluminum foil and let cool.  Try not to eat them all before it's time to garnish...they are SO addictive.


To prepare the filling, combine the cream cheese, sugar, vanilla and almond extract in a medium sized bowl.  Stir to combine and pour over cooled crust.  Cover and place in refrigerator while you prepare the glaze.

To prepare the glaze, combine 2 cups of the strawberries in a food processor and puree until smooth.  I used frozen strawberries for this part as fresh strawberries here are EXPENSIVE!  Pour strawberry puree into a saucepan.  Add sugar and cornstarch.  Stir over medium heat using a whisk.  Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.  Reduce heat to low and continue to cook for one minute.  Remove from heat and bring to room temperature.  I let the mixture cool for about 20 minutes on the counter then moved to the refrigerator to finish.  Never put anything extremely hot in the fridge as it can increase the temperature inside, jeopardizing the safety of your dairy and other food products.

Ok I messed up a bit here and am going share with you anyway because I don't want you to make the same ding-dong mistake.  I poured the entire batch of glaze over the sweetened cream cheese.  If you read the recipe properly at this point, you are supposed to add the strawberries in a circular pattern on top of the cream cheese and then pour HALF the glaze on top, saving the other half of the glaze for something else, perhaps your cereal or ice cream...yeh I was too excited and dumped it all...with no berries.  DOH! 

Once I realized what a stupid mistake I made, I had to remove the glaze with a spoon.  Well as much as I could anyway, as shown here:

I was so irritated I forgot to take pictures as I was too busy curing at myself for being such a bonehead.  SO, here is what you do: 

Combine the remaining 4 cups of fresh strawberries with one tablespoon of lemon juice.  Use your hands to give them a good toss.  Arrange your berries, stem side down (of course be sure to trim the tops off!) in a circular pattern over the cream cheese.  Take HALF the glaze and pour over the berries.  Sprinkle the candied almonds around the edge of the tart and chill for 3 hours.

Slice up and enjoy...and of course read your directions.

 recipe slightly adapted from  Cooking Light