Monday, January 24, 2011

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones

I've been craving something chocolaty and homemade.  I randomly stumbled upon this recipe on  I've found a few things on her blog that I really like.  I came home from work and decided to try this recipe, because it seemed simple, yet decedent.  I cut the scones a little bigger than the recipe said to, but I didn't think that 1/16th of the dough was enough for a single scone!  So, I made 12 instead.  Regardless of the size, I ate 2 of them because they were so good!

Chocolate Chip Cream Scones
Adapted from: Cream Scones from the Art and Soul of Baking (page 152). This is a very good book - buy it on Amazonor find it in your library.

2 cups (10 oz) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 3/4 oz) granulated sugar
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/4 t salt
1 stick butter (4 oz) (cold, cut into pieces)
1 cup (8 oz) heavy whipping cream (cold)
1/2 - c. chocolate chunks 

1 egg, lightly beaten
2 T sanding sugar or granulated sugar

1. Preheat over to 425 degrees
2. Mix together dry ingredients. 
3. Using a pastry cutter, two knives or your fingers (I used a cheese grater), cut in the butter. 
4. Add whipping cream and chocolate chips. Blend together quickly (I use my hands and/or a spatula). Do not overmix.
5. Shape into a round or square. 
6. Brush with egg wash. Sprinkle with sugar.
7. Cut into shapes. Place on parchment or Silpat covered baking sheet.
8. Bake for 14-16 minutes until golden brown and delicious.

This was the perfect recipe to make after work, because it was simple and didn't take long to make.  So, I didn't have to sit around waiting to devour these delicious little pillows of greatness!

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Tuscan White Bean Soup

I love soup. At times, when I get on a soup kick, my family can really get fed up with how much I love soup. I grew up eating soup all the time. Soup, chili, stew, all kinds of brothy concoctions. So I think that has something to do with why I love soups so much; to me, soup is comfort food. Another reason: they can be so dang easy to throw together that soup is a great meal for a busy weeknight. Chop up and brown some onions, maybe some carrots and celery and meat of some kind, add broth, salt, pepper and herbs and let it simmer for a while. How easy is that?!

This recipe is so easy that I got it done in about 45 minutes, start to finish. And most of that time, I was just waiting around, getting hungrier and hungrier as it started filling my kitchen with wonderful aromas. I adapted this recipe from a Cook's Illustrated recipe. (Again.) I do that a lot, take one of their recipes and add my own little something. Here's how I tweaked it:

The CI recipe called for pancetta, I opted for Italian sausage instead. I used a local brand that was flavored with Merlot, Asiago cheese and sun-dried tomatoes. I figured that would be a tasty substitute, and it was. I could have used bacon, but this sausage sounded so yummy that I couldn't pass it up. I also added a big chunk of Parmesan cheese rind that I had in the fridge, about 2 cups of homemade chicken stock and an extra can of cannellini beans. I had some dried out french bread laying around from a few days ago, so we cut it into hunks and put it in the bottom of our bowls. I think that was my favorite part. The bread soaked up the flavorful broth and got all soft and chewy again. It was delicious! Definitely going to make it again. Already bought the ingredients.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

I recently had Eric pick up some Vietnamese Extra Fancy Cinnamon from Penzeys Spices. It comes highly recommended by Cook's Illustrated, my cooking gurus. They were right. It's amazingly tasty cinnamon and I've been putting it in everything.

I think my favorite recipe I tried so far has been Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream. I took Paula Dean's Dreamy Creamy Hot Cocoa recipe and tweaked it a bit. I liked it before, but I think I made it even better. And it's still super simple. Hope you all enjoy it too.

Hot Chocolate with Cinnamon Whipped Cream

1 can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup natural cocoa powder
1/4 cup Hershey's Special Dark cocoa powder
1/8 tsp salt
1 vanilla bean
6 cups hot water
1/2 cup whipping cream
2 to 3 tbsp sugar
1/2 to 1 tsp good cinnamon

Pour the condensed milk into a large sauce pan over medium heat. Sift cocoa powders into pan. Stir together until warmed and looks like hot fudge. (Heating the cocoa powders in the milk intensifies their flavor a bit.)
Add the salt. Split the vanilla bean and scrape out the insides. Add it all to the pot.
Slowly whisk in the water.
Continue heating the hot chocolate until it is heated through but not boiling.

While the mixture is heating through, pour the cream in the bowl of a stand mixer.
Mix sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl (This will keep the cinnamon from clumping in the cream)
Using the whisk attachment, whip the cream on low speed, sprinkling the cinnamon-sugar in while whipping.
Once the cream starts looking frothy, turn speed up to high and beat to stiff peaks.

Ladle hot chocolate into a mug and drop a dollop of whipped cream on top. You can garnish it with a cinnamon stick or shaved chocolate for a pretty presentation.

 - If you don't have a vanilla bean, you can substitute 1 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. Using the whole vanilla bean makes a big difference though.
 - You can use all natural cocoa powder, but the Special Dark cocoa gives it a little more depth of flavor. I found mine at Walmart.
 - For a Mexican-style hot chocolate, a pinch to 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder can be added with the cocoa powders. A pinch is enough for me, it just adds more complexity of flavor.
 - To cut out some calories, I sometimes use fat free condensed milk. Of course fat is flavor, so it tastes less rich, but still good.