Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

First, let me just wish prayers, well wishes and safety to everyone in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico, the Caribbean and everywhere else that are being affected by these terrible hurricanes.

Second, today’s post is about doing things that I haven’t done for a while.

I haven’t traveled very far for a long time. The last time I was on a plane was when we made the cross-country move to California, almost exactly a year ago. Since then I’ve pretty much stayed on the west side. But that’s about to change.

By the time you guys read this post, I’ll have already hopped a Red Eye flight and arrived back in the Mitten for a visit, for the first time in a full year.

Apart from the fact that I cannot believe a full year has passed so quickly since the move, it’s going to be good to get back in my hometown to see my family again. We’re fortunate to live in a time where technology like Hangouts, Facetime and Messenger exists and I can video chat with them, but it’s not the same as in-person contact. The huge distance factor creates this feeling where you it’s like you’re out there in a kind of ‘bubble’ where you’re apart from other things that are going on.

I’m looking forward to taking a brief pause in the everyday routine and get back to something that I’ve been away from for a while. Sometimes it takes actually revisiting a memory, place or person to make you realize how much you missed them. That’s certainly the case with my going back to the hometown, and it’s also the case with today’s recipe.

Cause y’know, I can find a way to make just about anything link back to my food. It’s kinda what I ‘do’.

Before I baked the recipe and wrote this post I really can’t remember the last time I ate coffee cake. And I did try to remember. It’s not likely that I can forget food that I ate and really enjoyed so the chances are, I either haven’t had coffee cake in close to a decade, or if I did, it was so Godawful that I’ve subconsciously blocked it out of my memory.

(And if it was awful, I’m choosing to just not count it as something I actually ate. Therefore, the calories I wasted by eating it don’t exist. Cause, I do what I want,)

One thing I can promise is that I’m not going to be able to forget eating this cake. Nor do I want to.

The sour cream inside the batter makes the cake soft, with a moist crumb that (unlike a lot of run-the-mill coffee cakes) isn’t overly dry and crumbly. A ribbon of brown sugary goodness runs through the middle. Then on top is my personal favorite: the buttery cinnamon sugar streusel topping that when baked, forms an almost crunchy texture contrast to the softness of the cake. And because I just don’t ever know when to quit, I topped all of it off with a smooth powdered sugar icing drizzle.

If you’re like me and it’s been a long time since you had coffee cake, do yourself a favor and let this be the recipe that makes you go back to it and remember why you love it so much in the first place.

Linking this up to this week’s Fiesta Friday #188, co-hosted this week by Jhuls @ The Not So Creative Cook and Nimmi @ Adorable Life.

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Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour

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Ingredients

For Cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick)
  • 1 cup (7 ounces) sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup (8 ounces) sour cream
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder

 

For Filling

  • 1 cup light or dark brown sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

For Streusel Topping

  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For Icing

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2-3 tablespoons milk

 

 

Directions

Preheat oven to 350°. Grease and flour a 9 or 10 inch tube pan and set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the filling. Set aside. In another small bowl, set aside the ingredients for the streusel topping. Set aside.

In a large bowl of a standing mixer (or using a handheld one) cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time. Add the sour cream and vanilla extract.

In a medium size bowl whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder with a fork. Slowly fold in the dry ingredients into the wet. Place half of the batter into the bottom of the tube pan, using a spatula to spread it out.

Sprinkle the filling over the batter, then pour the rest of the batter on top of it. Use a butter knife to gently swirl the filling throughout the batter. Sprinkle the topping over the batter until completely covered.

Bake for 40-45 minutes in the oven, until a toothpick/tester inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove cake from oven, allow to cool in pan for about 20 minutes, then turn out and allow to cool completely on a wire rack.

Curried Pumpkin and Ginger Scones

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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.

Pumpkin Scones

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Jas and I are self-proclaimed, unapologetic coffee addicts. We need it. We crave it. We have to have it. Every morning. Or else.

The sad thing is I was ‘clean’ for going on 3 years. I had truly kicked the habit- but one rotten morning I had at work a few months ago made me cave back into the urge and from then on, I was right back where I started: hopelessly devoted to coffee.

It can expensive if you’re like us and like the gourmet stuff. Plus you constantly have to invest in buying special, also not-too-cheap whitening toothpaste. It’s the devil in a red dress, I’m telling you.

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In my area, we have two major ‘coffee corporation giants’; for the sake of subtlety I’ll call one Bucksstar and the other Bybigs. (I know, I know; REAL subtle there Jess.)

Over all the years of our coffee connoisseurship, Jas and I have worked out our own special theories about the strengths, weaknesses and similarities between Bucksstar and Bybigs. And since we’re self-proclaimed addicts that go to all and any lengths to get their fixes, you should just take our word for it. Cause we’re pros and we just know what we’re talking about.

When it comes to straight hot coffee, with little to no bells and whistles, Bucksstar wins. It’s fancier and you really can taste the difference in the quality of the ingredients. However, when it comes to hot lattes and cappuccinos then we do tend to lean more towards Bybigs. Plus, the caramel apple cider they sell in the autumn is truly out of this world.

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The funny thing about Bucksstar’s lattes is that they taste much better cold than hot to us. In fact, the iced lattes and frappuccinos at Bucksstar’s are the stuff of dreams. The ones at Bybig’s just can’t compare.

Interestingly enough, Jas and I think that the biggest difference between these two coffee giants is NOT their coffee, but their baked goods. There’s just SUCH a huge difference. Want to know what it is? Here’s the answer, direct from us to you:

Bucksstar’s baked goods rock. Bybigs suck.

Seriously. I’m not being overly dramatic or just trying to straight out diss Bybig’s. I’m just being honest. I don’t know who it is that formulated their recipes for pastries- but whoever it is, should probably get the sack. The cookies are flat and cardboard-like in texture. The muffins taste like something the Little Debbie company churned out. The bagels are tough hockey pucks.  The rice krispie treats don’t have enough marshmallow creme and butter. And don’t get me started on those friggin scones; they’re drydryDRY with little to no flavor.

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Now Bucksstar? They’ve got this thing on lock. Everyone, EVERYONE knows that Bucksstar baked goods are delicious. I can’t remember the last time I went into one to buy coffee and didn’t end up walking out of there with some kind of pastry. The banana bread is thick, soft and fragrant. Their croissants are flaky and buttery. The cookies are sublime. Even their breakfast sandwiches are the bomb.com.  And the scones? Dude. Their SCONES. I think they must put crack in those scones. It’s the only explanation for their being so addictively awesome, right?

Although I’m not a huge pumpkin pie fan, I gotta admit that my favorite scone to get from good old Bucksstar has always been their pumpkin scone. There’s just something about the blend of all those autumn spices that goes SO well with a cup of hot coffee. So when I saw this recipe posted on Bonappetit.com, I jumped at the chance to try it out. It’s really VERY delicious, whether you decide to ice them or leave them plain- I did both and honestly can’t decide which is better.

Scones are so easy to put together and they yield such marvelous results. They also give me an excuse to drink more coffee- and you know I’ll always find ways to do that.

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Pumpkin Scones

Recipe Courtesy of Beauty and Essex via BonAppetit.com 

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Ingredients

  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for surface
  • ¾ cup (1½ sticks) chilled unsalted butter
  • ½ cup chopped fresh (or frozen, thawed) cranberries
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ cup canned pure pumpkin
  • ¼ cup buttermilk, plus more for brushing
  • 2 tablespoons raw sugar

 Directions

1. Whisk granulated sugar, baking powder, ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, cloves, baking soda, and 2 cups flour in a large bowl.
2. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate in butter, tossing to coat in dry ingredients as you go; toss in cranberries. Mix in egg, pumpkin, and ¼ cup buttermilk.

3. Transfer dough to a lightly floured surface and pat into a 1½”-thick disk. Cut into 8 wedges; transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, 25–30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 400°. Brush scones with buttermilk and sprinkle with raw sugar. Bake until golden brown, 25–30 minutes

Apple Cinnamon Scones

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Happy Fiesta Friday #16 all you lovely people who came out the party! I’m pleased to bring this humble offering to share: Apple Cinnamon Scones!

I think just about everyone has had a certain interest, like hobby or skill that in a perfect dream world, they would like to use that hobby or skill as a job that they could do for the rest of their lives. I admittedly, have had quite a few of these in my short 24 years on this Earth.

When I was in elementary school, I loved everything that had to do with babies, thus making me believe that I wanted to be an obstetrician- this was after I consulted with my mom and found that there WAS such a thing as a doctor that only handled labor and delivery of babies. Then I found out that I wasn’t the best at science or math- both of which you kinda have to have decent skills into become a doctor. So that was out.

When I was between the ages of 11-13 I was  sure I was gonna be an Egyptologist when I grew up- pretty much an expert on everything that had to do with ancient Egypt. You know those mysterious (and let’s face it, creepy) curators of Egyptian artifact museums you see in the movies? Yeah, I totally used to fantasize about that being me.

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When I was in high school, I did some acting in a few plays and musicals and really enjoyed it. I also saw the film adaptation of Webber’s “Phantom of the Opera” (which made me develop a mild obsession with all things PoTO related that lasted far longer than I’m willing to admit to you guys) Thus, I got the idea in my head that maybe my true calling was to become an actress on Broadway, where I would be able to become the first African American Christine Daae to a Phantom that happened to look like Gerard Butler’s twin brother. (Side note, I’ve given up on that one completely).

My main goal during my undergraduate years at Michigan State University was to go on to graduate school and become a scholar in academia of African American studies. To be honest, this is something that I’m still kinda considering for my future. I love all things that have to do with African American history, and although the prospect of grad school intimidates me, I’d still feel honored and pleased if given the opportunity to pursue the life of an academic.

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Nowadays, my dreams and aspirations for the ideal job mainly revolve around two things: writing and food. I think I’ve mentioned before that writing fiction and cooking food are the only two things in the world that I could do for free without needing any pay or compensation. I’m totally serious about that too. As a voracious reader as a girl, I finally came to the conclusion one day that instead of just envying the stories of my favorite authors, maybe I should just try creating some of my own stories and characters- so I did. My writing has really become one of the main stress relievers that I have in my life. I can’t imagine life without it. The best part is that it’s become an ongoing journey that never has to end- the more and longer that I write, the  more that I think I have and will continue to improve my skills…which leads to my ‘ideal world’ dream of becoming a bestselling author that just writes books for a living. It’s definitely a long shot, but a girl can still dream, can’t she?

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And of course, there’s my cooking. You guys ought to know by now that my cooking is my refuge. When I cook, all is well with my world. There’s just me, the kitchen, my ingredients, and the music in the background. Blogging has really just served to elevate my love and respect for cooking- I not only get to share it with my family and friends, I also get to share with you all…the pictures, that is 🙂 My friend Prudy at Butter, Basil & Breadcrumbs told me in one of my past posts that I should open a bakery. I found this to be rather coincidental, as running a small bakery is something I can half see myself doing in an ideal, care-less world. Running a restaurant- definitely not. But a bakery, I think I could do.

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So, some of you may remember a few months ago when I first made these Banana Bread Scones. (If you don’t or weren’t following my blog at the time, I highly recommend you go and check them out cause they’re friggin awesome) They were a smashing hit, and I was so impressed with them that I almost immediately decided that I would be making scones- any kind of scones- again as soon as possible. I finally settled on these- and I can’t tell you how happy I was that I did.

I didn’t think it was possible to top the Banana Bread Scones, but honestly I kinda think that these do. What else can I say? They’re thick, flaky, tender and bursting with apples and cinnamon chips. You may notice that mine are iced- technically the recipe didn’t call for it but I went ahead and decided to throw together a quick icing using confectioner’s sugar, a few teaspoons of milk, vanilla extract and a dash of cinnamon. My family always whines about how much I use icing for every baked good that I make, but I don’t care. I love icing. Icing is everything. Everything in life.

These scones make me think that maybe I should start taking my little dream world aspiration of opening a bakery a reality someday- after I’ve sold my hundreds of thousands of books on the New York Times Bestseller’s List, that is.

Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?

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Apple Cinnamon Scones

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 3/4 cups Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon Apple Pie Spice or ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup (8 tablespoons) cold butter
  • 3/4 cup chopped fresh apple, in 1/2″ pieces leave the skin on, if you like
  • 3/4 cup cinnamon chips
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup applesauce, unsweetened

Directions

1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, and spice.

2. Work in the butter just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.

3. Stir in the chopped apple and cinnamon chips.

4. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and applesauce.

5. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together.

6. Line a baking sheet with parchment; if you don’t have parchment, just use it without greasing it. Sprinkle a bit of flour atop the parchment or pan.

7. Scrape the dough onto the floured parchment or pan, and divide it in half. Gently pat and round each half into a 5″ to 5 1/2″ circle about 3/4″ thick.

8. Using a knife or bench knife that you’ve run under cold water, slice each circle into 6 wedges.

9. Carefully pull the wedges away from the center to separate them just a bit; there should be about 1/2″ space between them, at their outer edges.

10. For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.

11. Bake the scones for 18 to 22 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. When you pull one away from the others, it should look baked all the say through; the edge shouldn’t look wet or unbaked.

12. Remove the scones from the oven, and cool briefly on the pan. Serve warm. When they’re completely cool, wrap in plastic and store at room temperature for up to several days. (Yield: 12 scones)

 

 

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Banana Bread Scones

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Hi. My name is Jess(ica).

I’m here because I used to be a coffee addict. Actually, no, that’s not true- I guess I still am technically a coffee addict, I’ve just gotten better at controlling my need for it. There came a time when I HAD to have some form of coffee every day just to function; sometimes I could take it straight, sometimes I wanted it in the fancy gourmet styles from coffee shops.  I didn’t care. I just wanted coffee. I needed it.

It took a while for me to hit rock bottom, to finally realize that my addiction to coffee was getting out of control. I wish I could say that I had this grand epiphany or moment of clarity/acceptance, but the truth of the matter is that I just finally got tired of spending $28 a week on the stuff at coffee shops and knew that I had to make a change. It wasn’t easy in the beginning. The caffeine withdrawals were rough; chronic headaches and irritability are a lethal combination, or so I found out. However, I pulled through- at first going cold turkey, then tapering back on to the point where I can have some form of coffee a couple of times a week without feeling as though I’ll go crazy without it.

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So yeah, for anyone out there still being affected by coffee addition at present: recovery is possible. And it doesn’t even have to mean that you give it up forever. You just gotta find a balance. Most times, when you think you need it, you don’t and you can pass. And sometimes…maybe the situation’s a little different.

For instance: there are some instances where a cup of hot coffee is a must. There’s no way around it. I certainly found that to be the case for this recipe. Aside from the profit that their over-priced drinks bring in, I’m pretty sure that a huge chunk of Starbucks’ money comes from the pastries that they display smack dab right in front of the customers in those glass cases. How many people can go in to buy a cup of coffee there in the morning without even stealing a longing gaze at the delectable cinnamon rolls, pumpkin bread, muffins, scones and other goods that Starbucks sells? I’m not one of them, that’s for sure.

I just had to clarify 1 thing: this picture is to scale. This bad boy is actually that big.

This recipe is actually one I’ve had pinned on Pinterest for a long time now. Scones was something I’ve never made before, but have always wanted to. They’re the quintessential accompaniment to coffee- hot, buttery and crumbly pastries of deliciousness. The only thing that could possibly improve them would be to add a unique flavor and ingredient…enter the bananas.

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You guys, even before I tasted them, I just knew that these babies were going to be sosososoSOOO good. I mean come ON: look at how fat and thick the scones turned out. See those flaky layers? It’s the cold chunks of butter that does that. Chilling the dough in the freezer was the secret weapon for the scones, I’m convinced. I think it’s something that I’ll definitely be doing for any future scones to come out of my kitchen, as well as for whenever I make biscuits. The glaze just sends them over the top. This recipe is one of the best, most satisfying that I’ve tried, and I highly recommend it.

Oh yeah…and the scones are even better when enjoyed with a cup of coffee. Just sayin.

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Banana Bread Scones

Recipe Courtesy of TheKitchn.com

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

  • 2 very ripe bananas (about 8 oz or 1 cup once mashed)
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) plain yogurt, whole or 2%
  • 2 1/2 cups (12.5 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 4 tablespoons (1 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons (2 oz) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

For the glaze:

  • 1 tablespoons (1 oz) salted butter
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz) milk, whole or 2%
  • 1/4 cup (2 oz) packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4-1/2 cup (2-4 oz) confectioner’s sugar

 Directions

1. Mash the bananas and then add enough milk to make one total cup (if necessary). Stir in the yogurt and set aside.

2. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon in a large bowl. Cut the butter into several pieces. Work it into the dry ingredients using a fork, pastry cutter, or your finger tips until there are no pieces of butter larger than a pea.

3. Pour the banana-yogurt mixture into the bowl with the flour and stir just enough to incorporate all of the flour. Fold in the walnuts, if using. This will make a fairly wet dough.

4. Line a dinner plate with a piece of wax paper and turn the dough out on top. Pat it into a disk about 1-inch thick and cover with another piece of wax paper. Freeze the scone dough for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 400°F.

6. Peel off the top layer of wax paper and invert the scones onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Peel off the second layer of wax paper. Slice the scones into eight wedges and pull them apart a little to give them some room to expand. Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the scones are firm to the touch and turning golden-brown on the edges. Cool completely and cut apart any scones that baked together with a sharp knife.

7. To make the glaze, melt the butter and the milk in the microwave for 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar and vanilla, and stir until the sugar has melted (heat for an additional 30 seconds in the microwave if necessary). Whisk in the confectioner’s sugar, starting with 1/4 cup. Add more confectioner’s sugar if desired to make a thicker glaze.

8. Just before serving, drizzle the glaze over the scones.

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Vanilla Biscotti

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12 Days of Christmas {Treats}

I thought I’d kick off this post with some random facts about Christmas that you may or may not have known before:

  1. The common abbreviation of Christmas to “Xmas” is derived from the Greek alphabet. “Chi,” the first letter of Christ’s name in the Greek alphabet, is written as “X.” (So I guess all the ‘War on Christmas’ propoganda is a bunch of bologna. Go figure).
  2. The earliest known Christmas tree decorations were apples. (We actually had fake apple ornaments on the Christmas tree from my childhood. I never quite understood why until now).
  3. The most expensively dressed Christmas tree was valued at $11,026,900 and was displayed by the Emirates Palace in the United Arab Emirates last year. (That tree better be trimmed in “decorations from Tiffany’s” as  the song goes, that’s for sure.)

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I’ll give you guys some more trivia throughout the series, but for now let’s get down to treats. For the second day of our Christmas treat series, I wanted to try something new that I’ve never tried before, both in the kitchen and in general. Biscotti were something that I’ve heard of but never really thought I would care for. They’re essentially twice baked cookies that are meant to be dunked into coffee to make them soft enough to bite into, as the traditional Italian style ones are quite hard. The thought of jaw-breaker cookies was never very appetizing to me, so I never bought any that I would see at Starbucks. Interestingly enough, when I was brainstorming ideas for the series, biscotti came to my mind. I tried to ignore it, but it just kept coming up.

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You guys know me by now. Once I get an ‘itch’ to cook a new recipe, I’m gonna follow through with it. There are a TON of biscotti recipes online, but eventually I settled on this one for two reasons: #1, it’s supposed to be an ‘American’ biscotti which means that it won’t chip a tooth when you take a bite out of it without coffee, and #2, it’s a vanilla biscotti- and I love ANYTHING that’s vanilla flavored.

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They looked pretty good on their own when they finished their second round in the oven, but I went ahead and threw together a basic powdered sugar icing that I flavored with milk and vanilla extract, then topped them with red and green sprinkles. I think it makes them look so much more festive and ‘Christmas-ey’, don’t you think?

(Click on the Picture for a link to the YouTube playlist. You know you want to.)

Today’s Christmas album recommendation is for A Special Christmas by SWV- or, the Sisters with Voices. Anyone who was or still is a fan of the old school R & B from the 90’s (like me) is going to be a huge SWV fan. Their songs just never seem to get old, and their Christmas album is no exception. They give a smooth rendition to the traditional Christmas carols that are very reminiscent of 90’s music. It’s been apart of my must-haves Christmas collection for years now. It definitely should be apart of yours too.

Favorite Tracks: “The Christmas Song”, “Give Love on Christmas Day”, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas”, “Christmas Ain’t Christmas (Without the One You Love)”

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Vanilla Biscotti

Recipe Courtesy of King Arthur Flour

CLICK HERE FOR PRINTABLE VERSION

Ingredients

Directions

1.  Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) one large (about 18″ x 13″) baking sheet.

2. In a medium-sized bowl, beat the butter, sugar, salt, vanilla, almond extract (if you’re using it), and baking powder until the mixture is smooth and creamy.

3. Beat in the eggs; the batter may look slightly curdled. At low speed of your mixer, add the flour, stirring until smooth; the dough will be sticky.

4. Plop the dough onto the prepared baking sheet. Divide it in half, and shape it into two 9 1/2″ x 2″ logs, about 3/4″ tall. Straighten the logs, and smooth their tops and sides; a wet spatula or wet bowl scraper works well here. Sprinkle with coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired, pressing it in gently.

5. Bake the dough for 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven.

6. Using a spray bottle filled with room-temperature water, lightly but thoroughly spritz the logs, making sure to cover the sides as well as the top. Softening the crust just this little bit will make slicing the biscotti much easier. Reduce the oven temperature to 325°F.

7. Wait 5 minutes, then use a sharp chef’s knife or serrated knife to cut the log crosswise into 1/2″ to 3/4″ slices. Or cut the biscotti on the diagonal, for fewer, longer biscotti. As you’re slicing, be sure to cut straight up and down, perpendicular to the pan; if you cut unevenly, biscotti may be thicker at the top than the bottom, and they’ll topple over during their second bake.

8. Set the biscotti on edge on the prepared baking sheet. Return the biscotti to the oven, and bake them for 25 to 30 minutes, until they feel very dry and are beginning to turn golden. They’ll still feel a tiny bit moist in the very center, if you break off a piece; but they’ll continue to dry out as they cool.

9. Remove the biscotti from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool. Store airtight at room temperature; they’ll stay good for weeks.

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