Wednesday, March 23, 2011

honey-almond oat scones

Or, almond-oat scones with honey glaze, or oat and almond honey scones. The order doesn't really matter because these scones are too tasty to bother with semantics.

I made these for tea with my friend Melissa whose days in Ottawa are numbered (boo : ( ).  The flavour was really nice, but I found them to be a bit dry and crumbly, which very well could be my fault for baking them a few minutes too long.  The original recipe says even longer!  My advice, watch these scones and don't let them get too brown.

Almond-Oat Scones with Honey Glaze
Adapted from here

For the scones:
1 cup white whole wheat flour
1 1/4 cups oat flour
¼ cup ground almonds
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick, 4 ounces) cold unsalted butter
1 cup toasted slivered almonds
1 egg
3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp almond extract
1/3 tsp vanilla extract

For the honey glaze:
1/6 cup honey
1 tbsp light-brown sugar
2 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly grease a baking sheet, or line it with parchment paper.
2. Combine the flours, ground almonds, oats, sugars, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. With a pastry cutter or a fork, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the butter pieces are the size of a pea. Stir in the almonds.
3. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and extracts in a large measuring cup. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients, and add the liquid all at once to the bowl. Lightly mix with a fork just until the dough is comes together. Don't overmix. Let the dough sit for 5 minutes to allow the oats to absorb the liquid.
4. On a well-floured surface, pat the dough into a round and cut into 12 scones.
5. Bake until the tops and edges are light golden brown, about 20 minutes. While baking, whisk together the glaze ingredients in a small bowl.  Remove the scones from the oven and glaze immediately, allow to cool.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

carrot cake: variations on a theme - part one

I got the new Food & Drink magazine for Spring 2011, and let me just say, I want to make EVERYTHING in it.  So, expect a lot of posts from it in the coming weeks and perhaps months.  One thing that had me particularly intrigued was their five variations on carrot cake.  I love carrot cake!  It is by far one of my favourite cakes and the idea of playing around with it had me more excited than any normal person would ever get about baked goods (but I'm not normal, so it's a-ok! - insert crazy person smile here).

After a bit of debate, I decided to try the double chocolate carrot cake with mocha mascarpone frosting first.  Mostly because I love chocolate but also because it was the biggest jump away from a traditional carrot cake. Plus, I found another recipe that uses mascarpone that I wanted to try.

The frosting for this cake is divine.  It's like a fluffy cloud of coffee crisp.  I love that it isn't greasy or too sweet like so many frostings tend to be.  I was tempted to sit there and eat the leftovers from the bowl with a spoon, but decided to show a little self control for once in my life.

Double Chocolate Carrot Cake with Mocha Mascarpone Frosting
Adapted from Food & Drink

For the cake:
5 cups grated carrots
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup cocoa
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate
1/4 cup milk
3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

For the frosting:
1 1/2 cups mascarpone cheese
1 cup cold whipping cream
2 tsp instant coffee granules
1 tsp vanilla
2 cups sifted icing sugar
1 1/2 tbsp sifted cocoa

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray or lightly oil two 8 or 9-inch cake pans.  (I did a half recipe in two 6-inch rounds)
2. Grate carrots, measure out 5 cups and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and cocoa.
4.  Coarsely chop chocolate and place in a small microwaveable bowl and add milk.
5. Using an electric mixer, beat together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a medium bowl for three minutes. 
6. Microwave chocolate and milk on medium heat in 30 second bursts until melted and smooth, stirring often.
7. Pour the chocolate into the egg mixture, stir well and then add to the dry ingredients.  Add carrots and mix until the whole thing just comes together.
8. Divide among pans and bake for 35 to 38 minutes.
9. For the frosting, place the mascarpone in a medium bowl.  In a small microwaveable bowl, heat 1/4 cup of the whipping cream and dissolve instant coffee granules.
10. Add the coffee mixture to the mascarpone and beat until smooth.  Beat in cold whipping cream and vanilla.
11. Sift together the cocoa and icing sugar and gradually beat in to mascarpone.
12. Assemble cake when cool and enjoy!!

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

one year blogiversary and pie day

So, I realized I let my one year blogiversary just past by unannounced, uncelebrated.  I guess it's a sad testament to the fact that this blog has sort of taken a back burner in my life at the moment.  As much as I think about baking constantly, I just can't seem to get the time needed to devote to it. Not that I am complaining at all, because life is still pretty good!

This pie is one of those occassions where time was not on my side.  I went back home this weekend to visit a friend that just got back from 6 months of travelling.  She was making dinner with her newly acquired Thai cooking skills and I offered to bring dessert.  I wanted something yummy but quick and this pie fit the bill.  I used a pre-made pie crust (I know some people are cringing at this) to speed things up.  The recipe is from Food & Drink magazine, but I changed the raspberries for strawberries.  I also prematurely took my custard off the stove, so it was a bit runny.  Oh well, the combination of berries, chocolate, pastry and custard is sort of a win-win-win-win, even if all aspects aren't brilliant shining stars.

If I made this again, I'd make my own crust and switch up the custard recipe for the one I used for my boston cream pie cupcakes (here).

The original recipe that I used can be found on the Food & Drink website (here).

Monday, March 7, 2011

coconut peanut butter cups

These are what happens when a peanut butter cup and a macaroon have babies.  Tasty, tasty babies.  What many of you don't know is that I have been on a "sweets ban" for the last two weeks.  I was getting a bit out of control and felt like I needed to break my addiction.  I've been pretty good except for a few tiny slip ups, and overall, I feel really good about it.  I decided to keep it up for a month, but allow myself a treat on Sundays.

So, my big decision for the week was what to splurge on.  What to bake?  So many options!  After two weeks with no sweets, chocolate was on my was peanut butter.  I went to my "recipes to try" folder and decided that this coconut tart looked good but I wanted to do better.  I'd been wanting to try my hand at home made peanut butter cups, so why not combine the two?  The results...delicious, indulgent, and the perfect end to the first two weeks.  Now I have all week to decide what to make next. Any suggestions?

Coconut Peanut Butter Cups
adapted from here and here

For the coconut crust
7oz sweetened shredded coconut
1 egg white

1. In a 350 F oven, toast coconut for 8-10 minutes on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Fluff every few minutes to prevent burning.  Allow to cool.
2. Pulse coconut in a food processor to get fine crumbs.  Mix with egg white.
3.  With wet hands, press into greased muffin tins.  (I used mini ones)
4. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown.  Allow to cool for one minute then turn out to cool on a wire rack.

For the peanut butter filling
1/3 cup peanut butter
1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup icing sugar

Mix together all ingredients in a bowl until a consistent texture.  I put the dry ingredients in the bowl first then put the peanut butter in, to prevent it getting to sticky.

1. Put the peanut butter filling in each coconut shell.
2. Melt chocolate in a double boiler.  Spoon a small amount on top of each cup and smooth the top.
3. Cool in fridge until the chocolate firms.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

airplane cake

Can you believe it's March already?  I am so ready for Spring this year.  I've even started willing it to come by dressing in pastels and eating spring-y/summer-y foods.

My coworker's husband turned 30 earlier this month and she asked me to make a cake.  She wanted a pretty big cake, and a fancy cake.  It was the biggest cake I've ever made, and it was definitely stressful, but I think it turned out pretty well.  More lessons learned in working with fondant.  I feel like it's a slower process for me because I am not naturally talented in the art department. 

She got him flight lessons for his birthday and wanted a plane theme, after a bit of research, this is the approach I went with.

The inside layers of the cake were cherry chip with cherry frosting, and chocolate cherry with cherry filling and chocolate frosting.  I used some of the leftover cake batter to make some heart cupcakes for my tea party as well but didn't get any pics.