November 17th, 2012

Whole Wheat Ricotta Scones

I finally got the Smitten Kitchen cookbook and the first recipe I selected was perhaps unexpected. The recipe is for whole wheat ricotta raspberry scones. I don’t make scones a whole lot because they can be rather tricky. However, I had some ricotta that needed using in the fridge.

The intro text for the recipe describes how Deb came up with this when she was out of ingredients but still wanted to make scones. Despite missing a key ingredient (the raspberries) I decided to muddle through in the spirit of the recipe. As a result, I needed to add more liquid to the dough to get it to come together (a lot more, about an extra 1/3 cup of cream). 

I just broke off a corner, warm from the oven and they are pretty perfect. Despite half whole wheat flour, they don’t taste too whole wheatie. I can only imagine how wonderful they will be when I make them again in the summer time with fresh raspberries. 

Anyone else tried a recipe from the new book?

xx

Spike

Whole Wheat Raspberry Ricotta Scones

from Smitten Kitchen

Note: If you skip the raspberries like me, You’ll need to add more cream to get the dough to come together (start with 1/3 cup and add more as needed).

1 cup (120 grams) whole wheat flour
1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon table salt
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter
1 cup (136 grams or 4 3/4 ounces) fresh raspberries
3/4 cup (189 grams) whole milk ricotta
1/3 cup (79 ml) heavy cream

Extra sugar for sprinkling on top

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a silpat. In the bottom of a large, wide-ish bowl, whisk flours, baking powder, sugar and salt together.

With a pastry blender: Add the butter (no need to chop it first) and use the blender to both cut the butter into the flour mixture until the biggest pieces are the size of small peas. Toss in raspberries and use the blender again to break them into halves and quarter berry sized chunks.

Without a pastry blender: Cut the butter into small pieces with a knife and work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingertips until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Roughly chop the raspberries on a cutting board and stir them into the butter-flour mixture. Note: Spike used a food processer for this step- the flour and butter into coarse meal texture. Then you can move the mix back to a bowl and continue on. 

Both methods: Add the ricotta and heavy cream together and stir them in to form a dough with a flexible spatula.Using your hands, gently knead dough into an even mass, right in the bottom of the bowl. Don’t fret if the raspberries get muddled and smudge up the dough. This is a pretty thing.

With as few movements as possible, transfer the dough to a well-floured counter, flour the top of the dough and pat it into a 7-inch square about 1-inch tall. With a large knife, divide the dough into 9 even squares. Transfer the scones to prepared baking sheet with a spatula. (Spike note: I like to brush off any extra flour on top).Sprinkle the tops with a pinch of sugar each. Bake the scones for about 15 minutes, until lightly golden at the edges. Cool in pan for a minute, then transfer to a cooling rack. It’s best to cool them about halfway before eating them, so they can set a bit more. 

Do ahead: Scones are always best the day they are baked. However, if you wish to get a lead on them, you can make them, arrange them on your parchment-lined sheet and freeze them. If you’re prepping just one day in advance, cover the tray with plastic wrap and bake them the day you need them. If you’re preparing them more than one day in advance, once they are frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container. Bring them back to a parchment-lined sheet when you’re ready to bake them. No need to defrost the froze, unbaked scones, just add 2 to 3 minutes to your baking time.

November 10th, 2012

Buttermilk Muffins (or coffee cake)

Technically, I completed this recipe on time for Tuesdays with Dorie. However, I have been super lazy about actually taking pictures and posting it. Maybe that’s because this one wasn’t the most photogenic. Maybe it was because while the recipe was good, it wasn’t anything to write home about. It is a super easy recipe, made even easier when you halve it and bake it in an 8 inch square pan instead of a muffin tin. 

This isn’t a recipe that will make it in to my regular baking rotation, the way that blueberry muffins or coffee break muffins have. If my review hasn’t stopped you from wanting to try this recipe, you can find it Alisa’s blog: easier than pie.


Hey! Speaking of poor photos, I have a friend who has developed a new tool to help us food bloggers! You submit your unedited photos to people hoping to learn how to perfect their Photoshop skills. They edit your photo and send it back to use for use on your blog. I need all the help I can get. If you want to try it too, let me know and I’ll give you the details. 
xx
Spike
October 27th, 2012

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

Tonight we’re headed to a Halloween party. I will be dressed as a bear bringing pumpkin cheesecake squares. Maybe just dressed as a bear (to Ed’s Grizzly Adams); the dessert isn’t part of the costume. 

I found this recipe a couple of weeks ago and knew it would be good. It comes from the Baked Boys and every recipe of theirs is a keeper. These cheesecake squares have a layer of pumpkin cheesecake and then they’re topped with a healthy dose of cream cheese frosting. DOUBLE CREAM CHEESE. I skipped their pastry layer for a much quicker and easier graham cracker crust. I also decorated the top with a chocolate spider web, which kind of loses its affect when you cut up the squares. I snuck a little bite and they are pretty awesome. 

Happy almost Halloween!

xx

Spike

Pumpkin Cheesecake Squares

Adapted from Baked Elements

For the Graham Cracker Crust:

2 cups graham cracker crumbs

8 tbs unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the Pumpkin Cheesecake Filling:

  • 16 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 2 large eggs

For the Cream Cheese Frosting:

  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 3 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
  • 1 tablesoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For serving:

  • 1/2 cup pecans, toasted and coarsely chopped or 1/4 cup of chocolate, melted

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

Butter the bottom and sides of a 9×13-inch glass or light colored metal baking pan. Line the bottom with a sheet of parchment paper and butter the parchment paper.

Combine the graham cracker crumbs and butter in a bowl, then distribute in your prepared pan, pressing the mix into the bottom of the pan. (Note, I halved the recipe and didn’t test this ratio for the crust- add more crumbs and butter to form a solid layer along the bottom of the pan if needed)

Remove the pan from the freezer, line it with aluminum foil, and fill it with pie-weighs or dried beans. Bake for 8-10 minutes. Transfer the pan to a wire rack to cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300° F.

Make the cheesecake filling:

In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the cream cheese on medium speed just until it is lump free and smooth. Do not over beat or the tops of the bars may crack. Add the sugar and beat again until well combined, about 2 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and spices. Add this mixture to the mixer and beat to combine. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. The batter will be loose.

Pour the mixture over the crust and bake for 23-30 minutes, or until the filling is set and slightly puffy. Allow the bars to cool to room temperature, before chilling in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.

Make the Cream Cheese Frosting:

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until smooth. Add the cream cheese and beat until combined. Add the confectioner’s sugar, vanilla, and salt and beat just until smooth.

Use an offset spatula to spread the frosting over the top of the chilled pumpkin squares. Sprinkle pecans evenly over the top of the squares or drizzle the melted butter on top and return to the refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes before cutting and serving.

They can be stored in the refrigerator, tightly covered, for up to 3 days. 

October 16th, 2012

Bagels

Please excuse the excessive text for this post; bagels are kind of a big part of my life.

I worked at a bagel bakery through out college. Lots of early mornings opening the store, prepping cream cheese and baked goods, waiting on customers, pulling bagels off the bagel shaper, and, very rarely, getting to mix up some actual bagels. I ate plenty of bagels in this time, about two a day and yes I did put on quite a bit of weight. Now I still eat bagels, but usually after a long run. My favorite are always salt bagels which seem to be a dying breed. But there’s nothing tastier than a salt bagel with cream cheese. 

Well, maybe a grey salt bagel with herbs de province hot out of the oven with cream cheese. I just ate a bite and cried a little. So good. I’d never attempted bagels at home before. It is an involved process, but when every bagel shop stops making salt bagels, you must take matters into your own hands. I made a few simplifications to the recipe. I skipped the egg glaze on the bagels (they were nicely browned without it), used a rack on a sheet pan in the oven to let the air circulate underneath the bagels a little better, and I pulled them out of the oven at 25 minutes to cool. I also boiled the second batch right away which was a mistake because they got a little too fat. I miss that bagel shaping machine. Perfect bagels every time. 

After a (super windy but fun) marathon on Sunday and a spin class tonight, I was in need of some carbs. These bagels did the trick. Heather has the recipe on her blog if you’re up for the homemade bagel challenge. 

xx

Spike

October 3rd, 2012

Champagne Mojitos

For Jessica's wedding shower (Aren't they a cute couple?!), I decided we needed a nice girlie cocktail. This one combines the mint/lime/rum flavors of a mojito with the bubbly of champagne. 

I love reading Jessica’s posts- she always has great baked goods and tailgating ideas (I’ve been bookmarking everything for football season). I’m so happy I got to meet her via Tuesdays with Dorie. Can’t wait to see the wedding photos!

Thanks to Nikki for organizing the virtual shower. Take a look at what everyone else made. I only wish we could all be doing this in person!

Congrats, Jessica!

xx

Spike

Champagne Mojitos
From Food & Wine

Makes 12 drinks

3/4 cup sugar

3/4 cup water

1 1/2 cups packed mint leaves,

plus 12 mint sprigs, for garnish

6 limes, cut into wedges

2 cups light rum

Cracked ice

3 cups Champagne or sparkling wine

In a small saucepan, combine the sugar and water and cook over high heat

just until the sugar has dissolved. Let cool to room temperature.

In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the mint leaves and lime

wedges and muddle well with a wooden spoon. Add the rum and stir well.

Strain the drink into another pitcher.

Fill tall glasses with cracked ice and pour in the drink, filling them about

two­thirds full. Top with Champagne, garnish with the mint sprigs and serve.

MAKE AHEAD The mojitos can be prepared through Step 2. Refrigerate the

mojitos in the pitcher overnight. 

October 2nd, 2012

Pumpkin Cranberry Bread

This one is far from the pumpkin quick bread that you have in your mind. There is nothing quick about the recipe. A first rise, then overnight in the fridge, then up to room temp again, then baked, then cooled, then eat. This really is a bread though, complete with nice yeast flavor. The description as similar to a brioche is right on. 

I just added some fresh cranberries, held off on the walnuts and raisins. The cranberries were nice and tart. This will be a really great toast for breakfast this morning, I’m willing to bet. 

Find the recipe with our host, Rebecca at This Bountiful Backyard

xx

Spike

September 18th, 2012

Whole Wheat Bread

Out of the oven just minutes ago. I sliced the end off for sampling as soon as it was cool enough to handle. So, so good. I only made one loaf but I have a feeling I’ll be making another batch next week. 

Michele of Veggie Num Nums and Teresa of The Family That Bakes Together have the recipe posted. If you love fresh bread, make this. If you don’t love fresh bread, then I’m pretty sure you’re lying. 

xx

Spike

PS- anyone else get big air bubbles like mine? See the lumps at the top of the bread in the photo. Good things looks aren’t everything. 

September 15th, 2012

Chocolate Chip Cookie Cheesecake Squares

Despite a long name and three separate layers, these bars are really simple to put together. Normally, I don’t like recipes that combine two or more desserts. While I’d probably rather eat a giant chocolate chip cookie AND a nice slice of cheesecake, these bars are easier than all that and pretty tasty too. 

I like a recipe that only makes an 8x8 pan. Fewer in the house for me to eat and not enough to really give away so I keep them all for us. 

I used almond extract in the batter as I am out of vanilla(!). Almond extract has a stronger flavor so I used a bit less and the bars still have a good almond flavor. That said, when I make them again I’d go with vanilla for a more classic chocolate chip cookie flavor. 

xx

Spike

Cookie Dough Cheesecake Bars

Adapted from The Essential Chocolate Chip Cookbook and My Baking Addiction

Makes 12 bars

THE CRUST:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIE DOUGH:

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
3/4 cup chocolate chips

CHEESECAKE FILLING:

10 oz cream cheese, room temperature
1/4 cup sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 325 F. Line an 8 inch square baking pan with parchment paper (leave a little overhang to help lift the bars out of the pan later) and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Set aside.

Mix the melted butter and graham cracker crumbs until thoroughly combined. Press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 6 minutes. Remove pan to a cooling rack. Leave the oven on at 325.

Prepare the chocolate chip cookie dough. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth and thoroughly combined, about 1 minute. Mix in the flour on low speed, and mix until just incorporated. Mix in the chocolate chips. The mixture will be a little sandy. Set aside (I put it in the bowl the crust was mixed in and then just wipe the mixer bowl to save washing extra dishes!).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with an electric mixer cream together the cream cheese and sugar until smooth. Mix in the egg and vanilla then pinch of salt on low speed just until incorporated. Pour the cheesecake batter into the prepared crust. Distribute the cookie dough onto the top of the cheesecake batter, pushing the dough together in little globs as you put them in place. The dough should cover most of the cheesecake layer

Bake for about 30 minutes, until the top feels dry and firm (the cookie dough) and the entire pan looks set if given a gentle shake. Move bars to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely.

Lift the bars out by the overhang; slice into desired size and store in the refrigerator. 

September 4th, 2012

Nectarine Chiffon Upside Down Cake

Well, after an 18 mile run yesterday I decided to take on a mini version of this recipe. I also decided to do this in the evening, after half a cocktail. As you might imagine, my ability to improv a recipe under these conditions yield less than perfect results. The nectarine layer was good. The cake was very eggy tasting. Both Ed and I agreed that it was too ugly to photograph. I ate chocolate chip cookies instead.

I believe others, who wisely followed the recipe, had better results.  Marlise and Susan have the original recipe posted. 

I promise to do better next time.

xx

Spike

August 21st, 2012

Popovers

Growing up, we used to always have Yorkshire pudding instead of popovers. As far as I can tell, the recipe is very similar. One difference? Yorkshire pudding falls in the middle, where popovers stay puffed- or at least mine did. I used a little hot oil in the muffin tin and didn’t need to cook the popovers quite as long- which was good because dinner was ready. We had these with a little (maybe a lot) of butter for dinner last night. 

Leftovers this morning with more butter and perhaps some cinnamon sugar or some maple syrup I picked up in Vermont this weekend. Cute little maple stand by the side of the road while running a 100 mile relay. Turns out, maple syrup is good running fuel. 

Find the recipe with Paula of Vintage Kitchen Notes and Amy of Bake With Amy.

xx

Spike