Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins

Happy New Year!!! 2020?!?!  How is this possible?

I always look forward to making some kind of special breakfast on both Christmas and New Year’s mornings.  Even though we live in Santa Barbara, California with no true winter weather, there’s something comforting about cooking with love on these special holidays.

Paul always wants to go on vacation somewhere during my winter break (teachers are limited in the times that we can get away).  But I always wanna stay here so that I can be in my home with “house pants” on (my nickname for pj bottoms with a t-shirt or sweats), listen to a fabulous pandora station, drink mimosas, and create something lovely for us in our warm and cozy little home.

Today was no different.  Paul got up before me and started recording the Rose Parade (he knows I love it and it’s a tradition to watch it every year).  I slowly crawled out of bed, made myself some hot lemon water, and started organizing ingredients.  Paul headed off to get his regular Sunday/holiday latte, while I dove into baking.

Our Sunday or holiday breakfasts are always a joint effort… he makes bacon and greases the pans for me.  I mix all of the baked good ingredients, and pop them in the oven.  He finishes by making scrambled eggs.

This morning’s New Year Day breakfast consisted of berries, scrambled eggs with green onions, roasted potatoes, and bacon.  Oh, and of course, half of a muffin each with mimosas. Perfect way to start 2020.  Happy New Year to all!

Notes:  These muffins are wonderfully moist and delicious, but not too sweet.  One suggestion:  toss the chocolate chips in a light dusting of flour before mixing them into the batter.  This will keep them from sinking to the bottom of the muffin pan.

Bakery-Style Chocolate Chip Muffins (recipe care of sallysbakingaddiction.com)

Muffins.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  3 cups (375g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), 4 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg, 2 large eggs, at room temperature, 1/4 cup (60g) sour cream or yogurt (at room temperature), 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar, 1 cup (240ml) milk, 1/3 cup (80ml) vegetable oil, 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter (melted and slightly cooled), 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, 1 and 1/2 cups (270g) semi-sweet chocolate chips, coarse sugar for sprinkling

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Generously grease a jumbo 6-count muffin pan with butter or nonstick spray or line with muffin liners. Set aside.  Whisk the flour, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together in a large bowl. Set aside.  Whisk the eggs, sour cream, and sugar together until combined. Then whisk in the milk, oil, melted butter, and vanilla extract. Mixture will be pale yellow. Fold wet ingredients into dry ingredients and mix together gently. Avoid overmixing. The batter will be thick and somewhat lumpy. Fold in the chocolate chips.  Divide batter among prepared muffin pan, filling all the way to the top. Sprinkle with coarse sugar (for added crunch, recommended!), if desired. Bake at 425°F for 5 minutes, then, keeping the muffins in the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and continue to bake for 25-26 minutes until the tops are lightly golden brown and centers are set. Use a toothpick to test.  Allow to cool for 10 minutes in pan before removing and serving.  Cover leftover muffins and store at room temperature for 5 days or in the refrigerator for 1 week. Muffins freeze well for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter.

NOTES FROM WEBSITE:  Standard Size Muffins or Mini Muffins: For 15-16 standard size muffins, reduce baking time to 18-19 total minutes: 5 initial minutes at 425°F and 13-14 minutes at 350°F. For about 50 mini muffins, bake for 11-12 minutes at 350°F the entire time.

Salted Chocolate-Pecan Toffee

“Auntie, do you still write your blog?”  My ten year old nephew, Flynn, asked as he was excitedly stirring melting chocolate.  “Whoa! I’ve never seen that much chocolate!” When I told him that I am in fact still writing, his response was, “You should write about this. Oh and take a picture.”
Today was “baking day” for my mom and me, and I invited Flynn to join.  He happily walked into the kitchen wearing his bike helmet and eager to show me the new bike that Santa brought him.  He proudly rode around, beaming.
Flynn is one of those amazingly well-rounded kids that is an incredible athlete, but also loves listening to music, dancing, drawing, cooking, and remarkably doing the dishes.  So when I get to bake with him, I’m stoked!
Once he was finished showing off his bike, he came in to join me in the experiment of making toffee.  I say “experiment” because I’ve never made it before, and in truth I’m not very good at making candy.  I’ve tried making fudge a few times and it was kinda pathetic.  I explained to Flynn that this might not work and if it doesn’t, I’m blaming him.  He giggled.
Today was probably one of my favorite baking times with Flynn.  The look of surprise and curiosity and complete awe on his face was priceless.  He loved watching the sugar/butter mixture boil higher and higher as the candy thermometer slowly reached 310 degrees.  “WHOOOAAA!” was his shocked response by the bubbly reaction of adding vanilla to the candy mixture.  He had a blast spreading and smoothing the chocolate on top of the toffee, wondering if it would overflow.  Finishing the whole thing by sprinkling the pecans across the tray by the handfuls was the cherry on top.
Flynn held the tray while I drove us to my house so I could add the finishing touch of the “fancy” salt.  It’s shocking to me that in my mother’s very overstocked kitchen, she does not have the “fancy” salt.  It’s too extravagant for her, which I find hilarious.  Anyway, Flynn and I cracked up as I turned corners and he tried not to let the chocolate spill over the sides of the very full tray. I just adore that kid!
The toffee turned out great!  A little too thick, but delicious none the less.  Oh and super easy!  Have fun experimenting!
Salted Chocolate-Pecan Toffee (recipe care of sunset.com)
Toffee.jpg
INGREDIENTS:  2 cups pecan halves, 3 1/2 cups sugar, 1 1/2 cups butter, 1 teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon vanilla extract, 12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, 2 teaspoons fleur de sel or coarse sea salt

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 350°. Put pecans on a rimmed baking sheet and cook, stirring occasionally, until toasted, about 8 minutes. When cool enough to handle, chop roughly. Divide into 2 batches; chop 1 batch finely. Set both batches aside.

Put sugar, butter, salt, and 3/4 cup water in a 4-qt. saucepan over medium heat. When butter and sugar are melted, increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is deep golden brown and measures 310° on a candy thermometer, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and carefully stir in vanilla (mixture will bubble up) and finely chopped pecans. Pour into a 10- by 15-in. rimmed baking sheet. Let toffee cool until set, at least 30 minutes. (For even pieces, you can “score” the toffee by cutting it with a sharp knife after it has set for about 10 minutes, scoring into 5 strips lengthwise and 8 strips crosswise to yield 40 pieces. Wipe knife clean with warm water after each slice for easier cutting.) Chop chocolate and put in a medium metal bowl. Fill an 8- or 10-in. frying pan with 1/2 in. of water and bring to a boil. Take off heat and put bowl of chocolate in the water. Let sit about 5 minutes. Stir chocolate until melted. Pour over toffee; with a knife or offset spatula, spread evenly. Sprinkle chocolate with roughly chopped pecans. Let sit 20 minutes, or until chocolate is cool but still a bit soft. Sprinkle with fleur de sel. Chill until set, about 1 hour. To remove, gently twist pan to release toffee, then chop or break into chunks. Store in an airtight container.

 

Christmas Morning

Christmas Tree copy.jpg

Merry Christmas everyone!  If Christmas isn’t your thing, happy holidays!  If holidays aren’t your thing, happy winter morning.

For some delightful reason I love to pick “go big or go home” recipes for any dish I make on Christmas.  This started in high school when I would choose the cover of Bon Appetit or Gourmet to create Christmas night’s dessert, which would result in me in complete frustration.  Really?!?  Why do I continue this ridiculous habit?

Actually, in truth, these are both fantastic recipes!  If you’re making them by themselves, they’re quite simple (especially the egg dish).  But in combination with each other, I pretty much used every pan in the kitchen.  Which lead to a massive cleaning session.

But I digress.  I have to admit that even though these two recipes were a bit more than I expected, I would do it all over again.  They are delicious!

Notes:

  1.  The muffins are spot on; excellent recipe!  Cooking Light always has really yummy recipes, and they are very easy to make.
  2. Paul does not like sweet potatoes so I just used regular, old russet potatoes.
  3. I also used full fat cheddar cheese (I like the fat).
  4. I have no idea what Aleppo pepper is and of course I only have regular paprika, not hot paprika.  But as a brilliant substitute, I used red pepper flakes.  They gave a lovely, warm kick; not too much.

Christmas Morning.jpg

Glazed Apple Crumb Muffins (recipe care of Sally’s Baking Addiction)

INGREDIENTS:

Crumb Topping:  1/3 cup (67g) packed light or dark brown sugar, 1 Tablespoon (15g) granulated sugar, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 cup (60g) unsalted butter (melted), 2/3 cup (84g) all-purpose flour

Muffins:  1/2 cup (115g) unsalted butter (softened to room temperature), 1/2 cup (100g) packed light or dark brown sugar, 1/4 cup (50g) granulated sugar, 2 large eggs (at room temperature), 1/2 cup (120g) yogurt, at room temperature, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 1 and 3/4 cups (220g) all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled), 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 cup (60ml) milk (any kind), at room temperature, 1 and 1/2 cups peeled, chopped apple (2 small apples)

Vanilla Icing:  1 cup (120g) confectioners’ sugar, 3 Tablespoons (45ml) heavy cream (or milk for a less creamy texture), 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

DIRECTIONS:

Make the crumb topping: In a medium bowl, combine both sugars, the cinnamon, and melted butter. Using a rubber spatula, stir in the flour. The crumb topping will be thick and crumbly. Set aside.  Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C). Spray a 12-count muffin pan with nonstick spray or line with cupcake liners. You may need a 2nd pan as this recipe makes up to 14 muffins, though you can always bake in batches using 1 pan. Set aside. *See note about jumbo size muffins.  

Make the muffins: Using a handheld or stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars together on high speed until smooth and creamy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs, yogurt, and vanilla extract. Beat on medium speed for 1 minute, then turn up to high speed until the mixture is combined and uniform in texture. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as needed.  Whisk the flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt together in a medium bowl. Pour the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients, add the milk and apple, and mix on low speed until everything is combined.  Spoon the batter evenly into each cup or liner, filling each all the way to the top. Press a handful of the crumb topping into the top of each; crumble it with your hands to make some big chunks.  Bake for 5 minutes at 425°F (218°C) degrees, then keeping the muffins in the oven, lower the oven temperature to 350°F (177°C) and bake for 15-17 more minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. The total time these muffins take in the oven is about 20-22 minutes.  

Make the icing: whisk all of the ingredients together and drizzle over warm muffins.  Muffins stay fresh stored at room temperature for a few days– then transfer to the fridge for up to 1 week.

Breakfast Hot Dish (recipe care of Cooking Light)

INGREDIENTS:  1 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (unpeeled and cut into 1/8-in.-thick slices), 1 large onion (thinly sliced), 1/4 cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons Aleppo pepper (or 1 Tbsp. hot paprika), Cooking spray, 8 large eggs, 1 1/4 cups whole milk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 3 ounces grated reduced-fat white cheddar cheese (about 3/4 cup), 1/2 pound turkey or chicken breakfast sausage (cooked and crumbled), 1/2 cup plain fat-free Greek yogurt

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat oven to 400°F.  Toss sweet potatoes and onion with oil and Aleppo pepper; spread into an even layer on a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 400°F for 20 minutes or until tender.  Place potatoes and onions in a large bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, salt, and black pepper. Pour egg mixture over potato mixture; fold in cheese and sausage. Coat a 13- x 9-inch baking dish with cooking spray; pour in egg mixture. Bake for 30 minutes or until set and browned on top. Cool slightly before serving. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon yogurt.

Cucumber Caprese Bites

Happy birthday Mom!!!  Day Day Chenoweth turns 78 tomorrow!  And I am so very grateful for such a phenomenally beautiful mom (inside and out!).  

Paul and I usually invite the parents over for a fun and cozy Christmas dinner to celebrate her birthday. The stockings were hung by the chimney with care, candles were flickering, tree lights and ornaments were sparkling, Bing Crosby was singing, and the fire was blazing. Good times all around!

Now, inviting our moms to dinner poses a bit of a dilemma in menu planning. My mom is not a fan of fish or vegetables, and Nana (Paul’s mom) feels the same way. But Nana will also not partake in pesto, hummus, and spinach. Plus… a few more, but I can’t remember them at the moment.  However I was feeling confident in my menu (went out on a limb with the basil), and oddly enough it turned out it perfect!

Long story short, regardless of the event, these are lovely and simple in every way.

Cucumber Caprese Bites (recipe care of ???)

Cucumber Caprese Bites.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 loaf ciabatta, 3-4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil (divided), 24 small fresh basil leaves, 1 Persian cucumber (thinly sliced crosswise into 24 pieces (or use a 3-in. piece of English cucumber cut into half-moon), 8 oz. ciliegine (1-in fresh mozzarella balls, drained), fine sea salt and freshly ground pepper

DIRECTIONS:  Split bread horizontally and trim rounded ends of base and any firm portions along sides; save top and trimmings for other uses. Brush base with 1 tbsp. olive oil. Cut lengthwise into thirds, then crosswise into eighths to make 24 squares.  Set bread squares soft side up on a serving board.  Arrange a basil leaf on each piece, then add a cucumber slice and mozzarella ball; skewer with toothpicks.  Drizzle with remaining 2 to 3 tbsp. olive oil, season generously wit salt and pepper.

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies

I love Mexican hot chocolate.  That rich, cinnamony (yes I know that’s not a word but I make up words all of the time), chocolaty combination of flavors is brilliant.  If you’ve never tried it, you’re missing out.  However it has to be a really good Mexican hot chocolate, otherwise it’s not worth it.

But I digress.

This weekend I was inspired to make something involving Mexican chocolate.  Maybe it’s the stormy, rainy weather we’ve been having because it warms you from the inside out.

When I found this recipe I knew it was something special.  As I read the ingredients I got more and more excited, but what put me over the edge was the cayenne pepper and chili powder.  Let’s spice it up!  (That’s just how I roll.)

If you serve them right out of the oven (or about 5 minutes after), the creaminess of the soft chocolate chips will melt as the spices kick in to make a wonderfully gentle warmth in your mouth and throat.  It’s a very cozy feeling.

Whenever I can add heat to a chocolate dessert, I go for it.  It’s a lovely surprise, and these do not disappoint.  They’re delicious.  Be daring and give them a try!

Spicy Mexican Hot Chocolate Cookies (recipe care of cookingchannel.com)

IMG_1121 copy.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, 4 ounces good-quality unsweetened chocolate (coarsely chopped), 1 cup packed light brown sugar, 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract, 2 large eggs, 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. In a heatproof bowl set over simmering water, melt the butter and chocolate together, whisking until glossy and smooth. Alternately, the butter and chocolate can be melted in the microwave (in a microwave-safe bowl) in 25-second increments, whisking between each interval. Cool the chocolate mixture to room temperature. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or a hand-held mixer), beat the brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and eggs on low speed until well combined. Pour in the cooled chocolate and continue to mix until the ingredients are evenly distributed. In a medium bowl sift together the flour, cocoa powder, cinnamon, chili powder, baking soda, salt and cayenne pepper. Add the dry ingredients to the chocolate batter and mix on low speed until just combined and no visible flour remains. Fold in the chocolate chips with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. Working in two batches, scoop 12 balls of dough (preferably using a small ice cream scoop with a spring handle, about 1 1/2 tablespoon size) onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, leaving at least 1 1/2 inches of space between each cookie. Bake the cookies, one pan at a time, for approximately 14 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through cooking time. The cookies should be puffy and still fairly soft when removed from the oven. Immediately slide the cookies, still on the parchment paper, onto a wire cooling rack. Cool just a bit before serving, 5 to 10 minutes. Cookies can be stored in airtight container for up to three days, but I prefer them on the day they are baked.

Maple Bacon Scones

Go big or go home!  Now, I fully agree with that motto in all things baking… more butter, more cream, more chocolate, more cheese.  You name it, I’ll add more.

Wait, is that gluttonous?  Oh who am I kidding?  I don’t care if it is!  Go big or go home!

However this morning, that motto happened by accident.  A friend of mine mentioned she had, had a delicious maple bacon scone this past week.  Well, that sounded absolutely delightful in every way.  So I looked up a recipe and found one on King Arthur Flour’s website.  They have really strong recipes, setting me up for success.

So as y’all know, I rarely pre-read recipes before diving in.  Why would I pre-read?  Teachers are notorious for never reading directions.

If I had pre-read the recipe, I would have seen that I should have bought something called “maple sugar” and “maple flavor.”  But did I buy these two key ingredients?  No.  Was it due to my lack of preparation motivation?  Yep.

In my brilliant wisdom I just used maple syrup, and when pouring it into the egg/milk mixture I accidentally got very heavy handed.  I probably poured in a 1/4 cup syrup rather than the 1/2 teaspoon it called for.  Yes my gluttonous self would have used 1 1/2 teaspoons of maple flavor had I purchased it, but still.  Even this was a lot for me.

Although I had a mishap, these scones turned out well.  Paul really enjoyed them, but I thought they were just okay.  I expected much more flavor, rather than the subtle flavor that was there.  We didn’t use enough bacon (of course I forgot to buy more bacon), and I would definitely use maple flavoring because it’s stronger than maple syrup.  With the correct amount of bacon and the stronger maple flavor, these would be crazy good.

Give them a go.

Maple Bacon Scones (recipe care of kingarthurflour.com)

IMG_1031 copy.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  3 cups all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, 1 teaspoon salt, 3 tablespoons granulated sugar or maple sugar,  1/2 cup cold butter (cut in pats), 1 large egg, 1/2 cup cold milk, 1/2 teaspoon maple flavor (optional), 2 cups diced cooked bacon or ham (1/4″ to 1/2″ bits)

 

Topping:  1 tablespoon milk or cream, 2 tablespoons maple sugar

DIRECTIONS:  In a medium-sized bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar.  Add the butter, working it in till the mixture is crumbly.  Whisk together the egg, milk, and maple flavor. Add this to the dry ingredients, along with the bacon or ham. Mix just till everything is evenly moistened.  Transfer the dough to a piece of parchment or a lightly floured work surface. Pat and roll it into a 9″ x 9″ square, about 5/8″ thick. Cut the dough into nine 3″ squares. Then cut each square into two triangular wedges, to make a total of 18 scones.  Place the scones on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet, and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes. While the scones are chilling, preheat your oven to 425°F.  Brush the chilled scones with milk or cream, and sprinkle with additional maple sugar, if desired.  Bake the chilled scones for 18 to 20 minutes, or until they’re a medium- to deep-golden brown.  Remove the scones from the oven, and cool them on a rack briefly. Serve warm — with maple syrup, if desired.

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits

“Oh they taste like pizza!”  Paul always has the best way of breaking things down.  But in truth, he’s right.  These are fabulous pillows of garlic cheesiness.  They are delicious!

I was feeling garlic this week.  Well, let’s be honest, I’m always feeling garlic.  Garlic, cheese, butter, and chocolate (not necessarily mixed together) are blessings from heaven and should be appreciated and enjoyed as often as possible.

So in my garlic (dare I say) obsession this week, I found this recipe.  In truth, I was hoping for slivers of fresh garlic mixed into the dough.  I suppose I could have done that.  It would’ve been overkill but as someone who adores garlic, that’s not a problem.  Plus, you could always adjust the amount of garlic powder if needed.

However, I have to say these are a wonderful balance of both cheddar cheese and garlic. The butter gives them a lovely hint of creaminess.  Two notes… I needed to use more buttermilk than called for and I doubled the melted butter recipe just to ensure that I had enough to generously lather them up.  Oh, and I didn’t have dried parsley so I used fried Italian herbs.

Go forth, bake, and indulge!

 

Homemade Cheesy Garlic Biscuits (recipe care of handletheheat.com)

Cheesy Garlic Biscuits.jpg

BISCUIT INGREDIENTS:  2 cups all-purpose flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter (cubed), 6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese (about 1 1/4 cups), 3/4 cup whole milk or buttermilk (very cold)

BUTTER INGREDIENTS:  3tablespoonsmelted butter, 1/2teaspoondried parsley, 1/2teaspoongarlic powder

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.  In a large bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, and salt. Use a pastry blender to cut the butter into the flour mixture until the butter forms pea-sized crumbs. Mix in the cheese. Add the buttermilk and stir until just combined.  Drop the dough by scant 1/4-cup portions onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 16 to 17 minutes.  While the biscuits are baking, combine the melted butter, parsley, and garlic powder. Brush the biscuits with the garlic butter and serve warm.

Vanilla Biscotti

Hi all! So our beautiful niece, Megan, is getting married to an all around awesome guy, Chase, in January.  The wedding shower is coming up this next Saturday.  Megan, being the lovely, naive sugar muffin that she is, asked me to make Italian cookies to be served as dessert at the shower.  She has this whole Italian theme going and sent me this recipe.

Well, when your niece entrusts you with the responsibility of making dessert for her wedding shower, you step up!  Now I say she is “lovely and naive” because she’s assuming I can pull this off.  I’ve never made biscotti before.  And we all know my blunders in the kitchen when I try something new.

I was on a mission to make this work!  Today was my first attempt.  I have to admit that I had full faith in the recipe from King Arthur Flour; they have very trustworthy recipes.  It all turned out great, flavors were fully on point.  However, I chose not to divide the batter (silly, overly confident me) and ended up making super-sized, ginormous biscotti.

Needless to say, I will be making a smaller version Friday night to bring to the shower on Saturday.  One little note, I used the two teaspoons of vanilla as called for but I also added about 1/2 a teaspoon of vanilla paste just for extra punch.

If you choose to dip these in white chocolate, use “baking” white chocolate so that it melts into a delightful creamy, smooth texture.  I placed them in the refrigerator to solidify the chocolate afterwards.

These are perfect to dip into an espresso/coffee drink of your choice.  Indulge!

Vanilla Biscotti (recipe care of kingarthurflour.com)

Vanilla Biscotti.jpg

INGREDIENTS:  6 tablespoons (85g) butter, 2/3 cup (131g) sugar, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 large eggs, 2 cups (241g) King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, white chocolate for dipping, optional

DIRECTIONS:  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease a biscotti pan, or line a baking sheet with parchment. In a medium bowl, beat together the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the flour and mix at low speed until the mixture is smooth; the dough will be sticky. Scoop half the dough onto one side of the prepared pan and, using wet hands, pat it into a 10” x 2” rectangle; it should be about 1” thick. Repeat with the other half of the dough. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden brown all over. Remove from the oven and let cool for 25 to 30 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board and use a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water to lightly spritz them. Wait 5 minutes before using a serrated knife to slice biscotti 1/2” to 3/4” wide. Take care to draw the knife back and forth through the baked log instead of pressing down. Slicing this way will prevent the biscotti from crumbling. Return the slices to the baking sheet, standing them up with 1/2” between them, so air can circulate around them. Bake for another 25 to 30 minutes, until dry and golden. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool. Dip the biscotti in melted white chocolate, if desired. Store airtight at room temperature; they’ll stay good for weeks.

Manchego & Black Pepper Biscuits

Will I ever learn?  Seriously.  Will I?

The flavors of these biscuits were on point.  They’re delicious and would be lovely as a stand alone breakfast treat or as a side kick for a yummy soup or salad.

However the consistency of the biscuit was heavy and thick.  That would be my fault (not at all surprising).

One of us (meaning me) did not carefully read the recipe.  If I had, I would have read that the cheese needed to be added to the dry ingredients.  But noooooooooo!  Because I read the directions out of order (I blame Rachel Ray’s magazine layout; nah, my fault), I added the cheese after all of the ingredients had been combined.

The reason this makes a difference is because the more you “work” a biscuit or scone dough, the heavier it becomes.  Beautifully light and flakey biscuits are just that because you stir all of the ingredients until the dough just comes together.

Well clumsy, non-reading old me kneaded the cheese in with the dough just before forming the biscuits.  I could immediately feel that the dough was not right.

Baking lesson care of Anne Darga:  carefully pre-read the recipe and don’t overwork the dough.

Manchengo & Black Pepper Sour Cream Biscuits (recipe care of Rachel Ray)

DSC05859

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups flour (plus more for dusting), 1 tbsp baking powder, 1 1/4 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp sea salt, 2 cups grated Manchego cheese (plus 1/2 cup for topping), 1 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper (plus 1/2 tsp for topping), 1 stick butter (very cold), 3/4 cup full-fat sour cream

DIRECTIONS:  In a large bowl, whisk 2 cups flour, the baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Turn the stick of butter in the dry ingredients until coated.  Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the bowl.  Using your fingertips, evenly mix in the butter.  Stir in 2 cups grated Manchego cheese and 1 tbsp ground black pepper. Form a well in the dry ingredients.  In a small bowl, whisk the sour cream and 1/3 cup very cold water.  Pour into the dry ingredients and stir just until blended.  Cover and refrigerate for at least 20 minutes or up to 4 hours.  Position a rack in the center of the oven; preheat to 450 degrees.  Grease a large baking sheet.  Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and pat into a circle about 1 inch thick, dusting with more flour if the dough is sticky.  Using a 2-inch cutter, cut out the biscuits, pressing straight down (do not twist).  Transfer to the sheet.  Gather the dough and repeat patting and cutting until the dough is used up.  Sprinkle 1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese and 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper.  Bake until the biscuits are golden and crispy on top, 12 to 15 minutes.  Let cool for 5 minutes.

Cheese and Scallion Scones

These are seriously moist pillows of cheesy goodness.  Added bonus: the fresh, scallion flavor.  They are so rich and dairy-filled you will think you’re living on a farm in the rolling green hills of Ireland, dotted by darling black and white cows.

Now, with that said, the recipe is a pain in the arse for various reasons.

First, I arrogantly thought that making scallion scones sounded unique and delicious (and easy).  Ha!  Turns out that the prepped mounds of dough have to be chilled for an hour before baking.  Really?!  Do you think I read the recipe ahead of time?  No!

Then, I stupidly bought blocks of butter from Costco.  This seemed like a great idea and isn’t a problem when a recipe calls for an easily labeled amount.  Unfortunately Costco butter only has 1/4 and 1/3 cup labels, not tablespoons.  Do you think I know how to translate tablespoons into cups?  No!  Oh, and the same thing goes for measuring ounces.  Thank you Siri!

Finally, softened cream cheese is not the easiest thing to “fold” into a scone dough.  It clumps up, and while desperately trying not to overwork the dough you have to break up the clumps.  Do you think I was frustrated at this point?  Yes!

But I gotta say, these are scrumptious!  They’re not a typical scone in that they are incredibly moist (caused by the cream cheese).  However if you will love the buttery, cheesy, scallion flavors that melt in your mouth.  Dive in!

 

Cheese and Scallion Scones (recipe care of whatsgabycooking.com

DSC05848.JPG

INGREDIENTS:  2 cups flour, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 5 tbsp unsalted butter cold (cut into chunks), 1 1/2 cup heavy cream, 3 oz feta cheese crumbled, 3 oz shredded cheddar, 4 ounces cream cheese (softened), 1 cup chopped scallions, 1 egg for egg wash

DIRECTIONS:  Combine the dry ingredients; flour, baking powder, and salt. Using a pastry blender, cut in the butter to coat the pieces with the flour. The mixture should look like coarse crumbs. Next add the various cheeses, cream cheese and scallions. Next add the heavy cream. Fold everything together being careful not to overwork the dough.  Form 12 medium sized mounds out of the dough. The size can vary depending on if you want to stretch the recipe to make more. Arrange them on a parchment lined baking sheet and chill for an hour. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Once chilled, whisk the egg together with 2 tablespoons of water. Brush the egg wash over the scones and bake for 16-20 minutes until tops are golden brown. Remove from oven and serve with butter, scrambled eggs, bacon etc.