Sunday, February 25, 2007

Chocolate Chip Scones

Biscuits or scones??? That is the question. To some, there really is no difference. BUT, alas, there is indeed a difference.

I remember once a family gathering at my grandmother's house. I lived with them for a few years and did most of the baking during that time. On this one occasion, I had whipped up a batch of biscuits for guests. This one guest in particular (not mentioning ANY names), proceeds to eat some of the biscuits. While eating, he says, and I quote, "Who made these lovely SCONS"?? I of course bit right onto that, with a retort said aloud only in my mind, "What the HELL is a SCON??" Where did the "E" go, I wondered??? I am sure to this day it may have been his hoity-toitier-than thou upbringing that possessed him to refer to my fluffy biscuits as a SCON. I mean at least give it the proper pronunciation....AND DO NOT be dissing the biscuit. And please...pay respect to the SCONE.

A biscuit is light and fluffy, and delish for sure. But, the scone is a little more dense in texture and easily made into a sweet version with the addition of chocolate chips, toffee bits and cinnamon chips. Drizzled with a little icing doesn't hurt either. If you are forced to adding gelatinous pustules, I can get past that, just as long as you don't make them when I drop by for a visit. Save those for the neighbors.

I will admit, I may be a tad anal on the whole spelling thing. I think it stems from a Crossword addiction, but do the scone right and add that "E". It really is one thing to get the name wrong, but the spelling, too?? ***GASP***...that is almost more than I can bear.

***OK, after Ann's comment was posted I did some research..lol. The American (or in my case, Canadian pronunciation IS scone, with a long O. It can also be pronounced "skoon", too. I guess we were just never told in school there was another way to say it...those darn teachers....lol. Spelled the same, 3 ways to say it...who'd a thunk it???***

Basic British Scones
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 pinch salt
1/4 cup margarine
1/8 cup white sugar
3/4 cup milk
***1/4 cup mini chocolate chips added for recipe alteration***

DIRECTIONS

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F (220 degrees C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Sift the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt into a bowl.
3. Rub in the butter until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs. Stir in the sugar(and chocolate chips at this point) and enough milk to mix to a soft dough.
4. Turn onto a floured surface, knead lightly and roll out to a 3/4-inch thickness. Cut into 2-inch rounds and place on the prepared baking sheet. Brush with milk to glaze.
5. Bake at 425 degrees F (220 degrees C) for 10 minutes then cool on a wire rack.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Aunt Caroline's Brownies

More comfort food. We all need it. The stuff that almost gives you an almost medicinal fix of nostalgia, fuzzy-slipper happiness, and gratification in one bite.

My best friend in high school, Jodi, and I had this thing with brownies. We were rather obsessed. I think I spent more time at her house than I did at my own. And her "Grammie Newcombe" always had this ginormous jelly roll pan of brownies waiting for us. They were always in the cupboard to right of the sink.

We would get our plate of brownies, head to the bedroom and get ready for the marathon of homework and music. George Michael was howling, "I Want Your Sex"....and we would screech out the part "C-c-c-c-c-c-cmonn". Looking back, I am pretty sure her grandmother and Bobo (grampie) could hear us, but they never once came in and complained of the smut that we listened to. For the eighties, these were ground breaking lyrics!!

This recipe came from my Aunt Caroline (hence the title), who is a baker extraordinaire. They are chewy, chocolatey and rich. I rarely put frosting on these...they never last that long. They are also the best companion for ice cream, warm out of the oven.

**Singing***

It's natural
It's chemical
It's logical
Habitual.............

Yep....they really are that good!

Aunt Caroline's Brownies
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
2/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup cocoa
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix flour, baking powder and salt in bowl. Set aside. In large saucepan, melt butter, remove from heat and stir in cocoa. Blend in sugar, eggs and vanilla. Blend in dry ingredients. Bake in greased 8 x 8 pan at 350° for 20-25 minutes, till toothpick comes clean. DO NOT OVERBAKE!!!

Dig in!

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Brownie Biscotti

I like to compare biscotti to men. There is the Lemon Poppy Seed version...a zesty, tasty variety that is always faithful (aka:Hugh Jackman). Then there is Gingerbread Biscotti...warm, spicy, yet sweet, and endearing(Hello, Dr. Luca, be my love slave) . When you need comfort, Caramel Pecan is there to soothe your soul (Jon Bon Jovi....***singing to me, "I'll be There for You"). Last but not least is the Brownie Biscotti. It is the perfect combination of simplicity and complexity all rolled up into one big chocolatey, drizzled slice.

Many men may vie for the spot, but I save this one for my husband. He IS dark and brooding, and moody at times. He does things sometimes that make me think I am in the twilight zone...and standing alone. (Fond memories of all my kitchen gadgets hanging from about 30 cup-hooks one day after work). NICE. But then comes the drizzled part. The part where he looks at me in the morning (sans make-up and brushed teeth) and tells me I am more beautiful now than I ever have been. Or when I am wearing camo pants and a do-rag and he tells me how sexy I look (the 4-inch stilettos apparently doesn't have that effect).

I guess in this day of failed marriages, I will take as much Brownie Biscotti as I can get. Variety IS the spice of life, I always say. I may occasionally make the Lemon Poppy Seed or Gingerbread, but the Brownie Biscotti is the mainstay in my cookie jar.

Brownie Biscotti
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
1/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup white sugar
2 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 3/4 cups flour
1/3 cup cocoa
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup of nuts (today I used pecans, toasted)

Preheat oven to 375°. Grease or line cookie sheet with parchament paper.

In large bowl, cream butter and sugar till smooth. Beat in eggs one at a time, then stir in vanilla.

Combine dry ingredients, then stir into creamed mixture. Dough will be very stiff. Mix in chocolate chips and nuts.

Make into 2 loaves (approx. 9 x 2 x 1). Flatten slightly. Bake for 15 minutes, or until firm. Cool to the touch.

Slice diagonally, then bake each side for 6 minutes. Cool and drizzle with milk and white chocolate.
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Brown Sugar Shortbread

Do you ever experience those baking smells that take you right back to a moment in time where you can remember the most vivid of details?? These cookies do that for me. Actually this is a dual-moment cookie.

The first moment is when I was about 12. I was a member of an all-girls club, called CGIT (Canadian Girls in Training). We always told anyone who asked it stood for the Cutest Girls in Town. Much more exciting, I think. We were invited to a sleep-over at our Team Leader's house, god bless her soul for taking on the challenge. We did crafts (my mother still has the delightful ceramic and decoupage plaque...**gag**...HOLLY HOBBY RULES), made pizza, watched scary movies that I was forced into (Damian...what a little cuss he was), and the finale was a MASSIVE cookie sheet of Brown Sugar shortbread.

Her method was a little different but the smell is still the same. That caramelly, brown sugared, crispy cookie smell that drew all of us girls into her small pantry kitchen. I remember the way she cut them...she patted the entire batch into a cookie sheet, then scored them into diamond shapes when they were still warm. I remember sitting beside my best friend Carrie Ann, and just how her hair looked. It is amazing how one little cookie can hold all this information. Microsoft really WAS onto something.

The other memory this cookie holds is one of sitting in my sister Kim's kitchen, with a massive pot of coffee and just talking about anything and everything. She is the one who gave me this recipe, and it always makes me think of her when I bake them. Oh, if those cookies could talk, they would tell which paint color Kim was doing her bedroom, how many types of mint she was planting in her herb garden and probably how many times our husbands left the toilet seats up that week. You can always rant over a good cookie!!

The recipe is simple...you need no cooking degree to whip them up. You might even find yourself walking down memory lane.

Brown Sugar Shortbread
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

1 cup of butter, softened
3/4 cup of sieved brown sugar
2 cups flour

Beat butter and sugar until smooth. Stir in flour. Dough will be stiff. Shape into 1" balls. Place on parchament lined cookie sheet. Flatten with fork (I used cookie press). Bake at 300° for 20-30 minutes until edge are light golden brown.

**BROWN IS THE NEW BLACK**
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

5 Star Bars

A word to the wise: don't come here expecting to find any bursting-with-fruit-explosions type of recipes. Not that berries and fruit are BAD, but they have their place, and here is not one of them. This is all about the manufactured sugar....none of that natural stuff. I mean, really...is it necessary??

I think growing up with not a lot made me so much more creative than I imagined. We never lacked for food, but there was no cream cheese, no toffee bits, and **le sigh**, no sweetened condensed milk in my mom's baking pantry. Just good ole flour, molasses and gelatinous pustules (aka:raisins). I think because of that, I go to the extreme with the baking now.

There are no holds barred when I shop for baking goods. I like them all, and in large quantities. Chocolate chips?? Why, yes, I'll take 10 bags or so, thanks. Did you say there was a sale on Eagle Brand milk?? Allrighty, then, we'll need another cart. I am just like that. I like to be able to go to the pantry and pretty much have the ingredients on hand for any recipe. Yes, it is a problem. But a tasty problem.

So, on that note, this recipe's name says it all. A good friend made this one year for our annual Christmas Cookie exchange, and it won first place. No easy task, I tell you. There is some stiff competition amongst my friends. A title well deserved in this case.

Prep time is minutes, so just a thought here. Maybe take some of the coconut and throw a few bits in your hair. At least make it LOOK like you were slaving!

5 Star Bars
~~~~~~~~~
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
2 cups sweetened flaked coconut
1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk (mmmm)
1/4 cup melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla

Mix above ingredients together (mixture will be VERY thick) in large bowl. Pat into 8 x 8 greased pan. Bake at 350° for 15 minutes. Let cool.

Melt 1 bag of milk chocolate chips with 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil in a bowl in microwave. Pour over cooled squares. When chocolate hardens to room temp, score into squares, then cut through. Keep in fridge.

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Turtle Cheesecake

It's a birthday thing. Cheesecake, that is. Whenever one of my friends have a birthday, it is MANDATORY for the rest of us to take said person out for dessert and coffee. This time it is at my house, and not a restaurant.

What could be more perfect than a silky smooth Turtle Cheesecake, complete with whipped cream and the elusive caramel sauce?? My friends and I have this ongoing thing about the Caramel sauce...we have decided that we would eat almost anything, as long as it had a cup of caramel over it. I mean, come on...we allllllllllll love our chocolate, but inside all of us is a Caramel Queen just waiting to come out. ***Going to put on my tiara as we speak***.

So, over cheesecake and coffee, the oohs and ahhhs follow the silence of the first few bites. The sound every cook likes to hear. The laughs and antics that transpire during the course of the evening would entertain even the most somber of people. It is wonderful to have friends that you feel so at ease with, friends who understand and listen to you. A true friend is one who tells you your cheesecake is the best they have ever eaten, without you having to pay them to say it!! LOL

So, as I sit with my tiara and my scepter, I hereby give thee the power to take that KitchenAid and bring forth the multitudes of cheesecake.

One final note...although the cheesecake IS divine....it is all about the Caramel Sauce. **Getting off my throne now**.

Turtle Cheesecake
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ingredients:

Crust:
  • 1 3/4 cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/3 cup butter or margarine, melted

  • Filling:
  • 3 pkgs. (8 oz. each) cream cheese, softened (I use light)
  • 1 can (14 oz.) Sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups (9 oz.) semi sweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup mini chocolate chips
  • Directions:
    PREHEAT oven to 300° F. Grease 9-inch springform pan.

    FOR CRUST:
    COMBINE
    crumbs and butter in medium bowl. Press onto bottom and 1 inch up side of prepared pan.

    FOR FILLING:
    BEAT
    cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk in large mixer bowl until smooth. Add sugar, eggs, lime juice and vanilla extract; beat until combined.

    MICROWAVE 1 1/2 cups morsels in medium, uncovered, microwave-safe bowl on HIGH (100%) power for 1 minute; STIR. The morsels may retain some of their shape. If necessary, microwave at additional 10- to 15-second intervals, stirring just until morsels are melted. Stir 2 cups of cheesecake batter into melted morsels; mix well. Alternately spoon batters into crust, beginning and ending with yellow batter.

    BAKE for 70 to 75 minutes or until edge is set and center moves slightly. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes; run knife around edge of cheesecake. Cool completely. Sprinkle with nuts and mini morsels. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Remove side of pan.

    Serve with Caramel sauce, whipped cream and decorate of course, however you are inspired to!!



    CARAMEL SAUCE RECIPE

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Saturday, February 3, 2007

    Almond Poppyseed Muffins

    As the perfect muffin is meant to be, this recipe is super-moist, oh so aromatic, and just the exact amount of fluffiness!! I was searching the internet for an almond loaf and came across the recipe for these bad boys about 4 years ago. ONE WORD: O.M.G!!! OK, technically it is three, but who's counting??

    I was up a 6 am this morning, and decided to whip up some of these. About 15 minutes after they came out of the oven I hear Morgan coming up the stairs, asking to have one. I remember being a kid and my mom's early morning baking showdowns . No matter how hard you tried to sleep in on Saturday morning, the smells coming from the kitchen was MUCH more important than those hours of sleep you would miss. Besides, if you were up before your 3 sisters, you ALWAYS got to lick the beaters and bowl. There are perks, you know!!! Good times, good times!

    Almond Poppyseed Muffins
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    1/4 lb. or 1 Stick Butter (softened)(1/2 cup)
    1/4 C. Vegetable Oil
    1 1/4 C. Sugar
    2 Eggs
    1 1/2 C. Sour Cream
    1/2 tsp. Salt
    3 tsp. Almond Extract
    1 tsp. Baking Powder
    1/2 tsp. Baking Soda
    1/2 tsp. Vanilla
    2 1/3 C. Flour
    2 Tbsp. Poppy Seeds


    Preparation:
    Measure flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder and set aside. In mixing bowl beat softened butter, oil and sugar until blended. Add eggs, vanilla , almond extract and sour cream to butter and oil. Blend until mixture is smooth. all moist ingredients should be blended well. Start adding the four mixture to batter a little at a time until thoroughly blended but do not over beat.
    When mixed, remove from mixer and add poppy seeds. Stir with a spoon until completely mixed through. Place in muffin cups 3/4 full. Bake in a preheated oven at 375 degrees for 20 - 25 minutes. Check muffins with a toothpick. Do not over bake. Store in a sealed
    container.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

    Friday, February 2, 2007

    Coconut Macaroons

    So, feeling somewhere between Martha and Bob Vila today, I opted to let the girls win...go Martha! So, cookies were on my mind, but just no regular old cookie. We are talking award winning Coconut Macaroons!!

    This recipe is TOTALLY one of my all time faves. The recipe came to me via an online cooking board. I have been a member of this board for over 6 years, and decided to host an online cookie competition. There were quite a few entries, 19 in total. I baked every one of the entries and hosted a taste test at my house, using my family and sisters as willing testers! This recipe came in second place, and in my opinion, will always be first!!!

    So between drying coats of paint and hanging pictures, I whipped these up. They are extremely easy to throw together, but taste like you worked on them for hours!! So go grind some coffee beans, brew a fresh pot, and try these out. You will not be disappointed!

    Coconut Macaroons
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    2/3 cup flour
    3 cups coconut (sweetened flaked)
    1/4 teaspoon salt
    1 can of Eagle Brand milk
    2 teaspoon vanilla

    Mix flour, coconut and salt together in large bowl. Pour in milk and vanilla. Stir to mix...batter will be VERY thick. Drop by tablespoons onto greased cookie sheet (I also used Parchment paper).Bake at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes, until edges are golden brown. When cool, drizzle with chocolate.
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting
    Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting