Thursday, February 20, 2014

Vanilla Scones with a Vanilla Bean Glaze

I love scones for multiple reasons. First of all, they're just such a fun shape. I mean think about it... I can name multiple baked items that are circular or square, but I can't name many other ones that are triangular. Secondly, they're so versatile. You can make them savory or sweet, fruity or cinnamony (that's a word, right?). There are just no limits! And lastly, there is not one time of day that you can't find a good reason to eat a scone. You can eat them for breakfast, second breakfast, elevenses, luncheon, afternoon tea, dinner, supper, dessert, and even for a midnight snack. You can't say the same for cupcakes, can you? Well, I suppose you technically could but we'll save that debate for another post...  But for now I'll give you one of my favorite scone recipes. These are sweet enough to be a nice dessert but not too sweet to eat for breakfast.



Vanilla scone:

2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. soda
1/2 chilled butter
1/2 cold, plain yogurt
1 egg
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. In a medium size bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking soda, and baking powder. Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter until the butter is in pea-size pieces. (If you don't have a pastry blender you can also you use your fingers or a fork to work in the butter. Just make sure the butter ends up in pieces and not as a paste.) Next, whisk together the yogurt, egg, and vanilla extract in a small bowl and add it to the flour mixture. Mix just until combined. Don't over mix or the scones will be tough! Place the bowl of dough in the freezer for about 5 minutes. This will help make them extra light and fluffy. Turn the chilled dough out onto a floured surface and form it into two, 6" rounds and cut each round into 8 wedges. Place the wedges onto the prepared cookie sheets and bake for about 10-12 minutes or until they are lightly golden on the bottom. Transfer them to a cooling rack and let them come to at least room temperature.

In the mean time, go ahead and make the glaze!

Vanilla bean glaze:

1 cup powdered sugar
1-2 Tbs. milk
1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 fresh vanilla bean

In a small bowl, whisk together the powdered sugar, milk, and vanilla extract. Next, using the point of a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthways down the center and scrape the seeds into the glaze. Stir well and put a spoon full of the glaze on top of each baked and cooled scone and just watch it drizzle down the sides as you try to convince yourself to not eat all of them in one sitting... good luck!

These are super tasty when warmed up a bit and pared with a cup of tea, coffee, or milk!

 
                                                                  Cheers! 

  

Friday, January 31, 2014

Double Dark Chocolate Cake

First things first, I love dark chocolate. I always have and always will.  The rich, subtly sweet, earthiness of it is just the best... And I don't think I'm alone in that opinion. So when my brother-in-law asked me to make him a chocolate cake for his birthday, I naturally decided that it would be a dark chocolate cake. And as long as I'm making the cake dark chocolate, why not make the frosting dark chocolate as well? It's only natural, right?

 Well a few months back I had found and tried out this chocolate cake recipe ( Chocolate Cake; My Baking Addiction ) and loved it so I figured I'd pull it out again but this time, instead of topping it with a chocolate espresso frosting like I did the first time, I would make a simple dark chocolate frosting. Don't get me wrong, I love a good chocolate and espresso frosting but I figured I'd embrace the richness of the chocolate and keep things classic this time.



Dark Chocolate Cake:

2 cups sugar
1 3/4 cups flour
3/4 cups dark cocoa powder (I use Hershey's special dark cocoa powder but use what you like)
2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2 eggs
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup strong black coffee (I just made a cup of pour over and used that but it doesn't have to be anything fancy just as long as its pretty strong)
1/2 canola oil
2 tsp. vanilla

Instructions:

Preheat your oven to 350 and grease and flour two, 9" round cake pans (one 9x13" baking dish also works). Now I like to set out all my ingredients before I start. First, because it lets everything kind of come to the same temperature so that it all incorporates better, and secondly, because there has been multiple times where I've gotten halfway through a recipe and realize I don't have enough of something. Better safe than sorry...


This recipe really is pretty simple. You just add all of the dry ingredients (sugar through salt)...



         Mix it up...


Add the wet ingredients (eggs through vanilla)...


     And mix it all up again...


I mean common... look how dark and rich and chocolaty that is! Mmmmm! Then you just divide the batter between the two prepared cake pans and slide into the oven for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Let them cool for about 10 minutes on a cooling rack and then take them out of their pans.

 I like to make the frosting while the cakes bake. That way it just times up nicely.

 Dark Chocolate Butter Cream Frosting:

1 cup softened butter
3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/2 cup dark cocoa powder
2 tsp. vanilla
6 TBS. whipping cream
 

Using an electric mixer, whip the butter in a medium bowl until its light and airy. Next, sift in the cocoa and powdered sugar. The sifting just helps make sure that there aren't any lumps in your frosting.



Beat that all together until its nice and creamy. You can add a little more cream or powdered sugar if you want your frosting to be any thinner or thicker but I left mine pretty thick.


When the cakes are baked and cool, frost the cake with the icing using as much or as little as you like. But whenever it comes to chocolate I say the more the merrier!



This is one of those cakes that seems to almost get better the longer it sits... not that it'll last that long though. And my personal favorite way to eat it is with a cup of hot coffee and a glass of cold milk! Hope you enjoy it!

                                                                         Cheers!