Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

It’s about that time again….

I know I say it every year, but I really can’t believe we’ve reached December and are on the verge of entering a new year. I wouldn’t exactly say 2017 flew by, but it is rather ethereal that it’s almost over and that we’re so close to starting 2018. Show of hands, how many of y’all have your Christmas trees up?

Hopefully it’s a good number; now that Thanksgiving is over, it’s undeniably the holiday season. Mine’s been up since the first week in November. (Shh. Don’t judge me. I have the Christmas spirit of Buddy the Elf.)

If you’ve been following the blog for at least a year, then you already know what the month of December will bring ’round these parts. If you’re new here, then welcome. This post will kick off a little series I’ve been doing annually from CIMs very first Christmas called the 12 Days of Christmas. For 12 days I share Christmas-themed baking recipes that I think would fit in rather nicely on a holiday spread of goodies that you make for yourself or others.

Baking twelve days worth of treats is no small task, but guys, I’m still so excited to get this series going. The 12 Days of Christmas is my absolute FAVORITE time of year to be a food blogger. There are so many delicious looking posts/recipes that I get to see fill my timeline and also contribute myself. I try to plan ahead and put out a variety of posts that can be tried out by both amateur and advanced bakers. Sometimes all goes accordingly to the plans–other times…most times, I have to adjust/tweak a bit.

Regardless, I always end up having fun, which is what really matters.

I first made my own pop tarts about two years ago. I wasn’t sure how it would go–or if it would go at all. But the 12 Days of Christmas seemed like a good time to test it out. I found that it’s actually a pretty easy process and that both the dough and filling go VERY well with just about whatever you want to do with them. Today’s recipe revisits my first go at toaster tarts, but then tweaks it a bit with the addition of some new ingredients. Those new ingredients are a Winter Spice mix that has classic holiday baking flavors: ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves. There’s also some pepper (yes, pepper) just to give it an extra kick.

I added about two generous tablespoons of this spice mix to the base of my buttery toaster tart dough. It doesn’t alter the chemistry of the recipe, but it sure does give a whole new depth of flavor to dough itself. The filling I did keep the same just because I love it SO much, but I realize not everyone is a cranberry-clementine fan, or you just may not have the time to make it from scratch. As I said, you really can do anything you want with the filling within reason. Any jam, jelly or preserves you want to use would work. If you’re a fan of apple butter or pumpkin butter, it’ll work. Heck, if you want to use biscoff spread, cookie butter, or Nutella: IT’LL WORK.

But come on: doesn’t that cranberry-clementine filling look delicious? Don’t you want to at least try it? I thought so. Sharing this recipe at today’s Fiesta Friday #200.

Stay tuned for more recipes for the 12 Days of Christmas!

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Winter Spice Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Williams Sonoma

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Ingredients

For Winter Spice Mix

  • 2 tablespoons ground ginger
  • 2 tablespoons cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons ground allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

For  Cranberry Clementine Filling

  • 12 oz. fresh cranberries
  • 6 clementines, peeled and sectioned
  • 1/2 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 cup cranberry juice
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise pod
  • 1 cup dried cranberries

For Tart Dough

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons of Winter Spice Mix
  • 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 10 tbsp. unsalted butter, cut into chunks
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1/3 cup whole milk
  • 3/4 cup cranberry clementine filling

For Decoration

  • 1 cup of powdered sugar
  • A few tablespoons of milk
  • About 1-2 tablespoons of light corn syrup
  • Holiday themed sprinkles

 

Directions

To Make Winter Spice Mix: Combine all of the ingredients together in a small bowl and keep in an airtight lid. Set aside.

For tart filling: In a small saucepan combine fresh cranberries, clementines, orange and cranberry juices, sugar, cinnamon stick, and star anise. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 20 minutes. Add the dried cranberries and simmer for 10 to 15 more minutes, or until the sauce has thickened. Set aside, cool completely.

For tart dough: combine the flour, winter spice mix confectioners sugar, salt in a bowl. Add the butter and cut in until mixture resembles coarse bread crumbs. Add milk and egg yolk and mix together, just until dough comes together. (You may need to add a bit more milk here. I did, adding just enough until it held together in a ball.) Wrap dough ball into two sheets of plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

 Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. On a floured work surface, divide dough in half and form each into a rough rectangle. Roll 1 rectangle until it measures about 16×9 in. Using a ruler and pizza cutter, cut dough into 12 small rectangles, each about 3×4 in.

Lay half the rectangles on the work surface and lightly brush with the beaten egg. Spoon about 1 tbsp. of the filling into the center of each, spreading it over the dough but leaving a 1/2 inch border.

Top with a plain dough rectangle, crimping the edges together with a fork– try not to let any filling ooze out.

Preheat oven to 375°. Place 6 tarts on each baking sheet, spacing them out evenly. Lightly prick the tops with a fork to create steam vents– be careful you don’t prick through both layers so the tarts don’t leak while baking!

Position 2 racks evenly in the oven and bake the tarts for 15-18 minutes, rotating halfway through. Let cool on a wire rack.

To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for sprinkles) together in a small bowl, adding additional milk if glaze is too thick to spread. Spread or drizzle glaze over tarts, topping with sprinkles is desired. Allow to set up and harden, about 15-3o minutes. 

 

Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

I have a confession to make.

I don’t think I’ve ever admitted it to anyone before. I’m pretty sure I’ve never even said it out loud. I considered keeping it to to myself and taking this huge, scandalous secret with me to my grave just because I know that it’s going to shock some (and maybe a lot) of you. You might even second guess or doubt my instincts for taste and good food. I’ve tried to deny it. I’ve tried to change it. But it’s just no good. This is just who I am. This is my truth and well, here it is:

I…don’t like the Little Debbie Honey Buns. At all.

I know, right? But calm down. Take a deep breath. Just let me explain.

When I was growing up as a kid, Little Debbie snacks were almost like a form of currency on the school bus, at lunch tables, lockers, the playground, etc. A few of my classmates and a drama teacher had full running ‘businesses’ hocking a pop up shop of candy, pickles and Little Debbie treats. Weird? Nah, not really. They made a killing off it because as it turns out, kids love candy, pickles and Little Debbie snacks. I remember being jealous of their profits. But I guess I just didn’t have the ‘entrepreneur’ knack…or more importantly, the start-up funds from my mom to kickstart a hustle of my own.

Don’t get me wrong y’all, I’m not knocking Little Debbie snacks entirely. There are several that I did and still DO think are tasty; the Donut Sticks for one.  Oatmeal Cream Pies for another. And Star Crunch. Terrible for you? Yes. Delicious? Double Yes.

All of the above snacks would be apart of the pop up stores, lunch room swaps and locker purchases in my childhood. But the biggest seller–I mean the one that was the *most* popular, hands down–were the Honey Buns. Everyone loved Honey Buns. For those that still don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, Honey Buns are yeast pastry buns flavored with ‘honey’ and ‘cinnamon’, then dunked in a thick layer of ‘icing’. I have my reasons for throwing the quotation mark shade, and they have everything to do with my distaste of the infamous Honey Bun that last to this day.

Like many other mass produced packaged snacks, Honey Buns are loaded with preservatives. I realize that this just comes with the territory but whatever the preservatives are that used to make them, they don’t gel with my taste buds. I’m just speculating here, but I’m pretty sure the amount of actual honey and cinnamon that are in a finished Honey Bun isn’t…much. And it shows.

And then there’s that icing. Oh God, that icing. The texture is what throws me off. It’s gloopy. It’s gelatinous. It’s…y’all I don’t even *know* what it is, and I’m pretty sure I don’t want to. What I do know is that I find it yucky and it’s a large part of why I never liked Honey Buns and finally stopped trying to.

Look guys, if you’re a huge fan of Little Debbie Honey Buns, that’s fine. You’re not alone. Quite a lot of other people are.

But the way I see it, if you’re going to indulge in a Honey Bun, why not make it an actual…honey bun? Y’know, one where the dough is fresh baked and isn’t loaded with preservatives, where it can go beyond just a snack and actually act as a filling breakfast, a bun where there’s  more than just a thimble sized amount of honey involved?

Do I have a your attention yet? Good.

As you can see, these aren’t a thing like the Little Debbie Honey Buns, and frankly I think that’s a plus. The dough is soft, fluffy and chewy. They’re crammed with breakfast sausage that I browned then flavored with brown sugar, cinnamon, pepper and (of course) honey. After that, they’re rolled up cinnamon bun style, but wait! Now we’re at the *really* good part: an ACTUAL HONEY glaze that’s lightly flavored with orange juice/zest is both brushed on top of the rolls as they bake, but also poured beneath them in the pan. What this results in, is a thicker,, stickier, syrupy glaze that you can drizzle and drag the rolls through once they’re finished. It’s everything.

I don’t know about you, but I feel so much better. I got a huge load off my chest and shared an awesome recipe with y’all all at once. That’s a great way to go into the weekend. Hope all of yours is a good one. Be easy.

Sharing this post at Fiesta Friday #198, co-hosted this week by Judi @ cookingwithauntjuju.com and Liz @ Spades, Spatulas and Spoons.

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Sausage Stuffed Honey Buns

Recipe Adapted from Southern Living

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Ingredients

For Glaze

  • 3/4 cup (6 oz.) salted butter, cubed
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup corn syrup
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest plus 1/2 cup fresh juice (from 1 orange)

For Sausage Filling

  • 1 1/2 pounds breakfast sausage
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper

For Bun Dough

  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast (2 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 5 cups all-purpose flour, divided
  • 2/3 cup plus 1 Tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 2 large eggs

 

 

Directions

For Glaze: Melt the butter in a 2-3 quart saucepan.  Stir in the rest of the glaze ingredients into the saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer and allow to cook for an additional 10-15 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool.

For the Sausage Filling: Heat about 1/2 tablespoon of oil in a skillet. Brown the sausage in the skillet in crumbles. Remove from heat and drain well. Move sausage into a medium size bowl and stir in the butter, honey, cinnamon, pepper and brown sugar. Set aside and allow to fully cool.

For Buns: Heat milk in a 3-quart saucepan over medium until bubbles begin to form around the edge of pan. Remove from heat and set aside.

Combine warm water and yeast in a 1-cup measuring cup. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of the white sugar on top of the yeast mixture. Allow to sit for 10 minutes, until bubbly.

Add yeast mixture, salt, 2 cups of the flour, and 1 tablespoon of the granulated sugar to warm milk; stir until relatively smooth. Place mixture in a warm place (85°F) until bubbly, 10 to 15 minutes.

In the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the shortening with the paddle attachment (or using a handheld mixer) until fluffy. Add the 2/3 cup of sugar and beat together until combined. Add the eggs, one at a time. Gradually spoon in the yeast mixture to the shortening-sugar mixture, mixing on low in batches until combined. Add remaining 3 cups flour, in batches, beating just until blended after each addition.

Replace the paddle attachment with the dough hook; beat dough on medium speed until smooth, 10 to 12 minutes.  Turn the dough out onto  floured surface and knead with your hands for an additional 2 minutes. Grease/oil a bowl and place dough inside, covering with plastic wrap and  damp towel. Allow to stand in a warm place for 1 hour until doubled in size.

Spray a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 1/2 cups of the honey glaze in the bottom of the dish, being sure to cover all corners (you can pour in more if you want a more gooey, sticky bottom on your buns). Set aside.

Punch dough down on a floured work surface to deflate air bubbles. Divide in half, place one half back in bowl and re-cover with plastic wrap. Roll out the other half to a rectangle, about  10- x 8-inches. Sprinkle one half of the sausage filling over the dough, leaving 1 inch border around. Starting from the long end, roll into a tight cylinder and pinch together to seal.  Cut off & discard the two short ends to create smooth, even buns. Cut cylinder crosswise into 4 to 5 (1 1/2-inch-thick) rounds. Place each bun cut side down in the baking dish. Repeat with second dough half and sausage filling. When finished, cover the baking dish with plastic wrap & a damp towel and allow to rise in a warm place until doubled in size 30-40 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°. Bake buns on middle oven rack until golden brown on top, 55 minutes to 1 hour. (If buns are getting too brown, cover with aluminum foil after baking 30 minutes.)  When finished, brush or drizzle some of the remaining honey glaze on top of buns.

Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Scones

Hey, hi, how are y’all doing? Just thought I’d check in and give an update on my little ‘problem’.

I’m still hooked on coffee. I’ve been meaning to do better, but I just haven’t been able to kick the habit. The cravings are still coming on strong and I continue to satisfy them with little to no remorse. I think at this point the largest reason would be that I’m just not up to getting over all the withdrawal symptoms, worst for me being the headaches. Caffeine withdrawal headache are the WORST. And short of taking some ibuprofen and soldiering through, there’s really not much you can do about it until your body just comes around to accepting that it isn’t going to be getting any coffee anymore.

And I’m not ready to tell my body that. Not sure if my body would even listen to me if I tried. So I’m not. Coffee and I still going strong and as it turns out, all of you will benefit from this ongoing relationship.

Along with my addiction, my quest to incorporate coffee into my favorite baked goods also continues. I’ve already done it (and done it pretty well I think) with cookies and cake. Now, I’ve found that there’s a way to do it (and pull it off) with scones.

I’ve said this before, but I’ll say it again: baking and cooking with coffee is similar to cooking with booze in that you only want to use something you’d be fine with drinking all on its own. I promise that the flavor of the java you use will inevitably come through these scones, so make sure that it’s a flavor you actually like. If you’re partial to french vanilla flavored coffee (like me) then use a french vanilla coffee. If you like Hazelnut, use Hazelnut. Or Mocha. Or French Roast. Heck, if you wanted to use a cappuccino here, that would work too. Whatever you want, just make sure that what you’re using is something you do actually…want.

I do think that these would’ve tasted delicious all on their own, but to give them a little something special, I decided to add a cinnamon sugar streusel on top for flavor, texture and overall appearance. I think the cinnamon pairs very well with the coffee and by the time it’s finished baking, the streusel has a buttery crunchy bite to it that gives it a pleasant contrast with the inside of the scones. I cut them rather small and dainty, but you can feel free to go as big or little as you want. Oh yeah, and the only way to possibly improve these would be to…you guessed it.

Dip them in coffee.

I love how these turned out, guys. Coffee lovers unite!…at the Fiesta Friday #196, co-hosted this week by Antonia @ Zoale.com and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Scones

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Scones

  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 8 ounces cream cheese, cold
  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, frozen
  • 5 tablespoons instant coffee, espresso, cappuccino, divided
  • 1/4 cup warm milk, plus more cold milk if needed
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For Streusel

  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 425°.  Dissolve the instant coffee/espresso in the warm milk. Mix together until thoroughly combined and place in the fridge.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder and salt with a fork.

Using the large holes of a box grater, grate the butter directly into the dry ingredients. Use a sharp knife to cut the cream cheese into chunks and fold into the dry ingredients, use the fork to mash up the larger chunks until they’re roughly the same size as the grated butter.

Make a well in the center of the butter/cream cheese/flour mixture. Pour the milk/espresso in the center. Add the beaten egg and vanilla extract. Mix together with a large rubber spatula. If too dry, you can add some more milk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to divide the rectangle in half, then divide the halves into thirds or fourths squares (depending on what size scones you want). Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the cut scones on it. Freeze them for about 15 minutes. In the meantime, fill a shallow pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

In a small bowl, mix together all of the streusel ingredients. Just before baking the scones, lightly spray each one with some non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the streusel on top of each one.

Bake them for about 12 minutes. Turn the oven off, leave the door closed & continue to bake for additional 8-12 minutes, until scones are light golden brown. Serve warm with butter, jam or cream cheese.

Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Sweet Cornmeal Scones5

Smoked paprika. Onion powder. Worcestershire sauce.  Hoisin sauce. Onion soup mix.

This seems like a random list, I know. But in my private little world of cooking and baking, it totally makes sense.

There are certain ingredients that I have a slight obsession with. If you’re a cook, you’ll know what I mean. No matter what, you always have to have them in your house/kitchen. You search for excuses to put them to use. You’ll swap them in recipes that don’t necessarily call for them, because YOU know from experience that they serve their own unique purpose. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me with the above mentioned ingredients.

I used to think paprika was pointless. It gave dishes a reddish hue but I never could distinguish a prominent flavor in regular paprika. I still can’t. But the day I discovered smoked paprika? Whooooo. I was hooked. The earthy smokiness is a flavor that will work with just about ANY savory dish, especially Latin and Middle Eastern ones. I freely admit to dumping entire tablespoonfuls of smoked paprika in braises and spice rubs. The tastebuds of the people I’m feeding always thank me later–and if you start using it generously in your food I promise that the tastebuds of the people you feed will thank you as well.

I’m gonna keep it 100 with you guys: I depend on onion powder in seasoning my food even more than I do salt and pepper. Yes. It’s that serious. I’m really sitting here trying to think if there is ANY savory dish that I make where I don’t use onion powder…….yeah, no. There’s not, and that’s because onion powder makes everything taste better. Worcestershire sauce and Hoisin sauce kinda go hand in hand. If you’re making a beef or pork dish and you want to add a deeper, richer layer of flavor to your sauce, then I highly recommend you keep them handy. A tablespoon of hoisin  and few shakes of Worcestershire sauce in a beef stew will REALLY give it that extra boost: trust me on this. lastly, If you think you’re really bad at making gravy–or you’re not bad at it, but you need to make some fast in a pinch, then using dry onion soup mix combined with beef broth is a quick & easy way to get good results.

I left one ingredient off that list on purpose, because it’s largely centered on today’s recipe.  Here’s the thing, guys: I have a slight obsession with cornmeal. I love it. I search for ways to put the stuff in everything, in both sweet and savory applications. I’ve shared two cornbread recipes on the blog already (my grandma’s recipe included which is made of more cornmeal than flour). The fried chicken recipe I shared a few weeks ago was posted alongside a recipe for biscuits that had cornmeal in them. I’ve made several yeast breads that have cornmeal in the dough–heck, I just made one yesterday that I’ll be sharing soon. There’s even a cookie recipe I tried with cornmeal that I really liked. I even sometimes put a sprinkle of cornmeal in my stews, chilis or braises to both thicken the liquid, and give it a subtle corny flavor.

And now, just when you thought there couldn’t possibly be yet another cornmeal recipe I could throw at y’all, here I am… throwing another cornmeal recipe at you.

You only have to take a brief glance at the Recipe Index to figure out that I’m kinda fond of scones.Every so often I get a crazy craving for one that I just have to appease, whether it means finding a coffee shop with a good selection or just making them myself. This time, I went with the latter and decided to see what would happen if I made my favored breakfast pastry with one of my favored ingredients.

This is what happened, and I gotta say: I like it. Cornmeal does admittedly add a coarser, grittier texture to ANY dough you make so if you’re searching for a light and fluffy scone, this may not be the one for you. However, these still do have layers and a flakiness to them that I think the cornmeal adds an interesting and different texture to. They’re somehow flaky and bready at the same time. Flavor-wise, you taste the sweetness from the light brown sugar then the subtle sweetness of the corn-y flavor and somehow, the two just really work together. Oh, and did I mention these were made even better smeared with butter and jam? Cause they were.

Sharing at Fiesta Friday #184, co-hosted this week by Petra @ Food Eat Love and Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook.

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Sweet Cornmeal Scones

Recipe Adapted from Food.com

Ingredients

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, frozen, plus more for brushing
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk, plus more as needed
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

 

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400°. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cornmeal salt, baking powder, baking soda and brown sugar with a fork.

Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the butter into the dry ingredients and stir a few times to combine. Make a well in the center of the bowl.

Pour the buttermilk into the well and use a large rubber spatula to stir the mixture together. If it seems a little dry you may add additional buttermilk until it forms a shaggy dough.

Sprinkle a pastry mat, wooden cutting board or wax paper with flour. Turn the dough out onto the surface and pat a few times with your hands until it loosely holds together. (Don’t knead it too much or the warmth in your palms will melt the butter and cause the scones to be tough.)

Pat and roll the dough into a rectangle. Take the two opposite ends and fold them together like a business letter into thirds. Flip it upside down and pat & roll it into another rectangle, sprinkling the surface with flour if it gets too sticky. Repeat the folding process two to three more times before patting it into one final rectangle.

Use a bench scraper or very sharp knife to divide the rectangle in half, then divide the halves into thirds or fourths squares (depending on what size scones you want).

Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place the cut scones on it. Freeze them for about 30 minutes. In the meantime, fill a shallow pan with water and place it on the bottom rack of the oven.

Brush the scones with melted butter and the turbinado sugar, then bake in the oven on the middle rack for about 15-20 minutes, until they’re golden brown on top. Remove from oven to a wire rack. Serve warm, spread with butter or jam.

 

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

curried-pumpkin-ginger-scones1

I remember the first time I tried coffee. I hated it.

I’d been wanting to for a long time. My dad would drink a French Vanilla flavored brew and if I close my eyes I can STILL remember the exact smell that would waft out of his coffee cup and into the air of the car as we drove. It was a delicious aroma. I just knew that the coffee HAD to taste as good. I mean, why else would so many adults want to drink it all the time?

I had my first sip of coffee the same way I had my first sip of Coca Cola: in secret when no adult was looking and I really wasn’t supposed to. I walked away from one with no regrets. It may very well be battery acid but all I knew back then was that Coke tasted amazing and it wasn’t fair that my mom wouldn’t let me drink it.

Coffee? Heh. I thought it bitter. Too bitter. Kinda gross, actually. I was so disappointed. I felt let down. How could something that smelled so good taste bad? And why did grown ups guzzle up so much of the stuff?

It took me a while longer before my mind changed andI began what’s been a long on-again, off-again relationship with coffee. I’ve been drinking it for about thirteen years (Yeah, I know. You do the math and it’s a long time. I started too early. It is what it is.) Those first two or three years it really wasn’t that serious: I mostly just stuck with the cold slushy-like frappucinos from Starbucks with only a few shots of espresso and are mostly just sugar and milk anyway. But as time went on, I upped my game and went with the real stuff, learning that it’s an acquired taste that may be slow to develop, but once had, is almost impossible to get rid of.

And believe me, I’ve tried to get rid of it. Multiple times.

Right now I’m in the midst of another one of my relapses and I’m actually okay with that. Life is short, there worse things in the world to be hooked on and I’m not about to feel guilty over having myself a daily cup of coffee….not to mention a little extra something on the side.

Because honestly, doesn’t the coffee taste that much better when you’re munching on something tasty to go with it? You guys know I’m right.

When I’m in a hurry and don’t have time to bake, I like to eat either the spicy Lotus biscuits alongside my coffee, gingersnaps, or some honey-flavored graham crackers. When I’m not in a hurry and do have the time, I’ll make scones. If you guys have been following me for a while you know I’ve got a special love for scones. They’re my favorite accompaniment to coffee and I made up my mind a long time ago to get good at making them for myself so I wouldn’t have to pay $4-5 for one from a coffee shop.

And I have to say, I think I’ve succeeded.

I had a leftover can of pureed pumpkin in my cupboard from Thanksgiving that I never used. I’d also just finished candying some ginger from a batch of ginger syrup I’d made. I didn’t want the pumpkin or the ginger to go to waste, and as they do go together so well, I thought they’d work very nicely in a scone dough. Besides the combination of those two ingredients, there are a few other things I love about this recipe:

It’s given a extra kick of spice by the addition of curry powder and turmeric. I know that those are spices normally used in savory dishes, but trust me: they REALLY do work with the ginger. The bite tempers the sweetness of the scone while the turmeric and the pumpkin also gives them a lovely golden brown color. Second, the crystallized ginger and turbinado adds a layer of chewy/slightly crunchy texture to the top of the scones. I know we’re just now getting into summer, but the smell of these will almost make you wish it were autumn already. I really loved how these turned out and if you try them (even if it’s just to bookmark for later) I think you will too.

Linking this post up to Fiesta Friday #173, co-hosted this week by Lindy @ Love In The Kitchen and Paula @ Her Life Is Love.

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Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup minced crystallized ginger, plus more for sprinkling (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (optional, for color)
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter or margarine, cut into eight pieces
  • 1/2 cup cooked, pureed pumpkin or squash (canned is fine)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 beaten egg, for brushing on top, optional
  • Turbinado sugar for sprinkling, optional

 

Directions

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper & lightly spray with cooking spray.

In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, the 1/2 cup ginger, curry powder, turmeric and sugar. Mix well with a fork and set aside.

In a small bowl combine the buttermilk with the pumpkin and mix together until the pumpkin has mostly dissolved in the buttermilk.

Using the large holes on a box grater, cut the butter into the dry ingredients. (You can also use a pastry blender or a pair of knives for this, just cut the butter into chunks first.) Mix with a fork until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

Make a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, and pour the pumpkin-buttermilk mixture inside. Using a floured rubber spatula mix together until just combined. (It’s going to be sticky)

On a well floured surface (like a cutting board, pastry mat or a secured piece of wax paper) turn out the dough and pat/roll it into a long rectangle, about  1/2 inch thick. Try to handle as lightly as possible with your hands.

Using a bench scraper, pizza wheel or knife, cut the dough into squares and transfer them to the baking sheet, placing them close together. Place the baking sheet in the freezer for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.  Place a shallow dish filled with about 1 inch of water on the lower rack of the oven about 10 minutes before baking and leave it in there (this will aid with the scone rise)

Brush the scones with the beaten egg and sprinkle with the extra crystallized ginger and turbinado sugar.  Bake for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from oven and serve warm or at room temp. Scones can be wrapped in plastic wrap to preserve freshness, then reheated by wrapping in damp napkin and reheating in microwave for 15-20 seconds.

Cranberry Scones

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As the song goes, “Christmas is the time to say I love you”.

I’ve got a few different love languages, but as you can probably imagine, my primary one is through cooking and baking. I don’t do either for just anybody.

I don’t love just anybody. If I’m feeding you, I care about you. I like you a lot. You’re my peoples. (That or I’ve got an overabundance of food I want to get rid of. Or you’re paying me to do so; my ‘love’s’ for sale in that respect.)

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If I’m fluent in the love language of baking, then I’d say it’s a fluency in the ‘dialect’ of coffee shop pastries. There’s just always been something about the goodies in the big display cases of coffee shops that makes me excited.  Cinnamon rolls. Banana bread. Muffins. Donuts. Bagels. Coffee Cake. Cookies.

SCONES.

C’mon, how can all that buttery, sugary goodness NOT scream ‘I love you’ when you’re hungry and salivating?

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I’m convinced that there’s nobody who won’t feel loved if you feed them a scone. A good one anyway. I’ve heard some people say that they don’t care for/hate scones and immediately I know that they’ve just never had one that was made right. Made with love.

I feel sorry for them–because everyone deserves one of those.

More specifically…one of these.

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I had some leftover cranberries chilling in my refrigerator and I didn’t want them to go to waste. I figured that cranberries were a nice ingredient to complement both the Christmas season and the theme of the series we’re in.

I also just felt like making scones; it’s been a while since I have, about a year and a half I think, and as far as I’m concerned that’s just far too long to go without.

Making a good scone is very similar to making a good biscuit; how you treat the butter and handle the dough is going to determine the success or failure of just about the entire result. So, a couple things:

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it once more: freezing your butter ahead of time is the best decision you can make. The colder the butter is, the more flaky the scone will be. Having said that, I’ve found that the best way to ‘cut’ it into the dough is to use the large holes on a box grater. The pieces will be just the right size and they’ll distribute far more evenly into the flour that way than they would if you just cut the stick of butter into cubes with a knife.

I’m wary of using cups or biscuit cutters to cut my scones (and biscuits). Supposedly so long as you don’t twist when you press down, it doesn’t affect the layering, but I’ve never found that to be the case. For some reason, it always hinders the rise for me. So, I always just default to using my bench scraper to cut the dough into squares or wedges. Works every time.

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Finally, just before I bake I will always let my cut scones (and biscuits) chill out in the freezer for about 20 minutes. I can’t remember where I read it or the scientific explanation, but this also helps the finished product expand and rise higher. So don’t skip that step if you can help it.

Following all of the above tips will get yo these: and don’t they just look delectable? Buttery, flakey dough with plentyof layers. Sweet and tart fruit throughout. Crunchy sugary goodness sprinkled on top. The Christmas “I love you.” that you’ve been craving all year.

12 Days of Christmas Banner

Day 1: Stuffing Bread

Day 2: Pumpkin Crunch Tart

Day 3: Cinnamon Roll Cookies

Day 4: Dulce de Leche Hot Chocolate

Day 5: Almond Stamped Cookies

Day 6: Spiced Cookie Bark

Day 7: Demerara Sugar Buns

Day 8: Sugared Shortbread

Day 9: Hot Chocolate Marble Pound Cake

Day 10: Cranberry Scones

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Cranberry Scones

Recipe Courtesy of The Kitchn

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Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 1/3 cup light brown sugar
  • 1 small orange or clementine, zested
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 3 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/3 cup to 1/2 cup milk
  • Turbinado sugar, for sprinkling, optional

Directions

Heat the oven to 350°F and prepare a baking sheet by lining with parchment or lightly spraying with spray oil.

In the bowl of a food processor, whiz the cranberries with the brown sugar and orange zest until lightly chopped. Remove to a separate large bowl. Back in the food processor, whiz the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut the chilled butter into small pieces and pulse with the flour in the processor just until roughly crumbled.

Mix the flour and butter mixture with the cranberries in their bowl. Add the milk and stir just until the dough comes together; it’s fine if there is still crumbly flour.

Sprinkle the countertop or a board with flour, and dump the dough out on it. Cut out rounds using a biscuit cutter or glass, or pat into a thick circle and cut into wedges.

Sprinkle the scone tops with the turbinado sugar. Freeze for 25 minutes.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until just golden. Serve warm.

Spanish Tortilla

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I used to be a pretty diligent breakfast eater, but as of late I’ve really fallen off the wagon with it. Whereas I used to get up early to make sure I got my breakfast sandwich all warmed up or my cereal and yogurt packed to take with me to work, the truth nowadays is that I give myself a pat on the back if I don’t sleep through my alarm and get myself dressed and out of the house in enough time to stop by the coffee shop for my mandatory latte.

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Yet despite my negligence for the meal itself, I’ve never lost my love of breakfast food. Sometimes me and the family will truck out for a weekend brunch, but not too often. Then inevitably, I’ll see some picture or recipe online or on television featuring breakfast food and suddenly I get mad at myself for skipping out on it so often now.

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Lately I’ve been getting cravings to have breakfast for dinner more often in lieu of typical ‘entree’ dishes. Instead of chicken or roast or stew, I find myself craving cereal & milk, pancakes, waffles, biscuits smeared with jam, sausage and (of course) omelettes. So for the past two weeks or so, I’ve been eating breakfast food for dinner pretty regularly. Today’s dish is one of those dishes, and I knew the first time I made it that I wanted to share it on the blog with all of you guys.

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When I first came across the recipe, the name was somewhat of a mystery to me; when I think of a ‘tortilla’, I usually imagine some kind of flour or corn tortilla being involved in there somewhere. (Which, I know probably betrays a lot of my inexperience in Mexican cooking). The interesting thing about this dish is that there’s really no flour or corn tortillas involved in it at all. But that definitely doesn’t take away from the taste; so far as I’m concerned they can call this thing whatever the heck they want to, it is GOOD.

Don’t flip out on me guys, but this was actually my first time cooking with chorizo. I’ve eaten it before of course, but never bought and used it as an ingredient before in my own kitchen. I can safely assure you that I’ll be certainly be using it frequently from here on out, particularly in my omelettes. Chorizo and eggs are a match made in Heaven; the smoky flavor of the meat works so well with the blank canvas of the eggs. The addition of the Yukon potatoes in the tortilla really helps to ‘bulk’ it up and make it even more filling and hearty.

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There’s really only one tricky part to pulling this dish off, and that’s the part where you have to turn the tortilla over in the skillet as a whole to finish cooking the other side. Don’t flip out: so long as you have a decent non-stick skillet, a large rubber spatula, and a large plate set to the side, you can easily pull this off. Follow the recipe directions, be patient and careful with your wrist action and you’ll be fine.

I ate a wedge of this Spanish tortilla with salsa and Frank’s Red Hot sprinkled on top with two slices of buttered/jellied toast on the side for a DELICIOUS Breakfast for Dinner meal.

Try it, mmkay?

(Happy Fiesta Friday #107 co-hosted this week by  Margy @ La Petite Casserole and Su @ Su’s Healthy Living)

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Spanish Tortilla

Recipe Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015

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Ingredients

  • 7 tbsp plus 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 1/2 pounds (3 to 4 medium) Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled, quartered and cut into 1/8 inch thick slices
  • 1 small onion, halved and sliced thin
  • 1 tsp table salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 8 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup jarred roasted red peppers, rinsed, dried and cut into 1/2-inch thick pieces
  • 4 ounces Spanish style chorizo, cut into 1/4 inch thick slices
  • 4 thinly sliced scallions

Directions

Heat 1 tbsp of the oil in a 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium high heat and add the chorizo, stirring occasionally until the chorizo is browned and the fat as rendered, about 5 minutes. Remove from the skillet to a small bowl and set aside.

Toss 4 tbsp of the oil, the potatoes, onion, 1/2 tsp of the salt and the pepper in a large bowl until the potato slices are thoroughly separated and coated in oil. Heat 2 tbsp more oil in the 10-inch nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until shimmering. Reduce the heat to medium-low, add the potato mixture to the skillet, and set the bowl aside (do not rinse). Cover and cook, stirring occasionally with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until the potatoes offer no resistance when poked with a paring knife, 22 to 28 minutes. (some slices may break into smaller pieces, but that’s ok).

Meanwhile, whisk the eggs and remaining 1/2 tsp salt into the reserved bowl until combined. Using a heat-proof rubber spatula, fold the hot potato mixture, red peppers, chorizo and scallions into the eggs until combined, making sure to scrape all of the potato mixture out of the skillet. Return the skillet to medium high heat, add the remaining 1 tsp oil and heat until just beginning to smoke. Add the egg-chorizo-potato mixture and cook, shaking the pan and folding the mixture constantly for 15 seconds; smooth the top of the mixture with the heat-proof rubber spatula. Reduce the heat to medium,cover and cook, gently shaking the pan every 30 seconds, until the bottom is golden brown and the top is lightly set, about 2 minutes.

Using the spatula, loosen the tortilla from the pan, shaking it back and forth until the tortilla slides around. Slide the tortilla onto a large plate. Invert the tortilla onto a second large plate and slide it, browned side up, back into the skillet. Tuck the edges of the tortilla into the skillet.Return the pan to medium high heat and continue to cook, gently shaking the pan every 30 seconds until the second side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Slide the tortilla onto a cutting board, cool for at least 15 minutes. cut into wedges and serve with salsa and hot sauce (like I did.)