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

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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.

 

Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Chocolate Donuts4

I’m annoyed guys. Know why? I’ve been having tech issues.

My computer’s been on the fritz.

About 2 and a half weeks ago I got this email from Microsoft offering me a free upgrade to Windows 10. I hate Windows 8 (I don’t know what the developers were thinking with that abstract ‘home screen’ that pops up whenever you push the start button), so I agreed to take the scheduled upgrade and told them to email me when it was ready.

Chocolate Donuts2

The appointed day came around. I let my laptop stay open that night, and went to bed. The next morning, I looked through the new interface and was pretty satisfied with what I saw. No more stupid, ugly home screen on Windows 10.

But there was a problem. Two actually.

Now, my computer won’t go to sleep. When I shut the screen down, it does go dark, but the keyboard stays lit and the actual machine keeps running as if it’s still awake. Then when I open the screen, it won’t turn back on. If I want the screen to work, I have to shut the computer off completely, then turn it back on.

Chocolate Donuts1

Which brings me to the next issue: now, the ‘Shut Down’ command in my start menu won’t shut down the computer. If I want to turn off my laptop, I have to press down on the power button and manually shut it off. Which, of course, isn’t good.

I’m currently paying for a subscription/protection plan with Geek Squad so, when I first noticed the issue, I scheduled an appointment at my local Best Buy and took the laptop in and left it with them to fix. The next afternoon, they called and told me that the problem was fixed.

Something about a BIOS update that my laptop needed- whatever that means.

I am by absolutely no means, tech savvy. So, I took their word for it, thinking to myself, “Hey, they’re the ‘ex-perts’ here. They know what they’re doing.”

Apparently, this was a mistake.

Chocolate Donuts3

Because less than a week after I picked the laptop back up from Geek Squad, lo and behold, it’s back to having the exact same problem.

There could be any number of reasons for this, I suppose. Maybe there’s another BIOS update that my laptop needs (though I still have NO idea what BIOS updates are). Maybe Geek Squad didn’t really fix the problem in the first place. Maybe it’s a new issue.

Or maybe Windows 10, like it’s predecessor, also sucks.

Regardless, I now have to schedule another appointment with the tech guys at GS and hope that they get it right this time. I’m pretty pissed off about it. But rather than focus on that, I’d prefer to focus on something else. Something much more pleasant than malfunctioning electronics and the paid experts who don’t do it right the first time.

Chocolate Donuts5

Like donuts. Glazed chocolate donuts.

There’s something about a thick, soft glazed chocolate donut that can just hit the spot and make everything all better.

There’s a place called Quality Dairy in my area that bakes wonderful chocolate donuts. The only ones I’ve ever been able to eat to be honest, as typically I prefer plain glazed, or apple cider. I’ve wanted to make ones on my own for a while. King Arthur Flour’s recipe for chocolate donuts looked very doable, I just had to make a few adjustments.

First, like every other chocolate baked good that I make, I added a tablespoon of powdered instant coffee to the batter. Interestingly enough, the coffee flavor doesn’t come through- but it does give a REALLY big boost to the chocolate flavor of just about anything. So stick that in your bag of tricks. Second, I had to coat mine in a powdered sugar glaze- only way to go.

The result, as you can see, is marvelous.

I’ll be taking my donuts with me to the Fiesta Friday #82 party, co-hosted this week by Kaila @ GF Life 24/7 and Sarah @ Sarah’s Little Kitchen, where hopefully I can continue to commiserate about my tech woes with all of you sympathetic people. After all, we’re all bloggers here- we all understand how annoying tech problems can be, right?

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Glazed Chocolate Donuts

Recipe Adapted from King Arthur Flour Baking Companion

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Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup (2 oz.) chopped semisweet chocolate or chocolate chips
  • 4 tbsp. (1/2 stick, 2 oz.) butter
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup (5 1/2 oz.) sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 1/2 cups (14 3/4 oz.) unbleached all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup ( 1 1/2 oz.) unsweetened cocoa
  • 1 tbsp. instant coffee powder
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6 cups (about 2 lbs.) vegetable oil or shortening (2 1/2 lbs.), for frying

Glaze

  • 3 1/2 cup (350 grams ) powdered sugar, sifted
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/3 cup (2 1/2 fluid ounces) hot water

Directions

In a small, heatproof bowl, combine chocolate and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and melt over simmering water or at medium power in the microwave. Stir to combine and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine butter/chocolate mixture with the eggs and sugar and mix until light. In a separate bowl, whisk together baking powder, baking soda, salt, flour, cocoa and instant coffee powder. Add to egg mixture and stir to moisten. Add buttermilk and vanilla, mixing just enough to bring dough together. Gather dough into a ball and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least an hour before rolling out.

To make doughnuts, heat oil or shortening to 350F in a Dutch oven that will hold at least 1 1/2 inches of oil. On a lightly floured surface, roll out chilled dough to a 1/2-inch thick circle. Cut into doughnut shapes with a doughnut cutter, or with 2 biscuit cutters-a large for the outside, a small for the hole. Fry the doughnuts 2 or 3 at a time; cook for 90 seconds on 1 side, turn, and cook for 90 seconds on other. Remove donuts from oil with slotted spoon or spider and drain on paper towels.

To make glaze, mix all ingredients in a bowl with a whisk until smooth. Dip each donut into the glaze, making sure they are covered completely. Place on a wire rack above a sheet pan to catch any excess glaze. Let sit for 20 minutes until glaze is set.

Curried Ginger Scones

Curried Ginger Scones1

The coffee shop near my job is really kinda depressing to me for several reasons.

First, their coffee usually just isn’t that good. Believe me, I’ve tried giving them the benefit of the doubt several times. I’ve bought multiple items on their menu just in case it was a fluke recipe; lattes, cappuccino, hot chocolate. NONE are really worth writing home about- or the $3.00 + change they charge for them. They’re not disgusting just…blah. Bland. However, since they’re the closest thing available to me, and more importantly because I have to feed my coffee addiction (or else bad things happen) I do still get a drink from them on the regular.

Curried Ginger Scones2

I had to mix things up, though. The barista there and I have a special understanding; she swaps out the regular vanilla syrups used in one of the lattes on their menu (it’s not good) with butterscotch syrup just for me, which really makes the drink taste a world of a lot better.

I kinda wish they would give me the credit for the new drink. Name it in my honor and put it on their menu or something. I feel like I did them a major favor. It actually tastes like it should cost $3.18 now.

Curried Ginger Scones4

Second thing about the coffee shop that depresses me? There’s no hot barista guy working there that I can flirt with in the morning to shake me out of my boredom. Y’know, the guy who gives me the extra shot of espresso free of charge with a commercial-worthy wink “just because” and calls me by my first name and always asks me how my weekend was or what my weekend will be like.

This should be basic elementary coffee shop stuff 101, amIright?

But even more depressing than the just-below-average coffee and absence of a hot barista guy named Wes in the coffee shop are their “baked goods”. The quotation marks were intentional. I’m really not even sure if I should call them that- seems like an insult to be honest. There’s nothing “good” about them. It’s that bad, you guys. I almost don’t even know where to start. They over bake EVERYTHING. I mean, good Lord. Whoever they’re paying to be their baker/pastry chef needs to be fired. or at least they should let me sit down and talk to them about some basic fundamentals of baking.

Curried Ginger Scones3

Cookies shouldn’t be completely flat and sunken in the middle when they set up. And they should not, should not, SHOULD NOT be dark brown across the top. That’s a burned cookie. It will crumble- and not crumble like Chips Ahoy, either. It’ll crumble like sawdust. Gross.

The scones are really what make me want to burst into tears though. Those poor, poor scones that never did anything to hurt anyone. Those poor scones that just wanted to be great. Those poor scones that have go through such cruel and unusual punishment. They’re over baked to the point where the inside of the scones looks like biscotti. They’re way too brown, I feel like if I squeezed it, it’d crumble into sawdusty crumbs. You’d never be able to tell that there was any butter layered in that overworked, over cooked dough. It’s a travesty.

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Scones are one of life’s greatest joys. They deserve better. They deserve to BE better.

They deserve to be these Curried Ginger scones. I so wish I could sit down with the baker at the coffee shop near my job and teach him or her how to make these. I feel like I could change their life.

Curry and ginger is a marvelous combination; there’s just enough bite, spiciness, and sweetness in both to balance off of one another. Pair this up with a cup of coffee, and you’re more than good to go. You’re ready to face the world.

I’m taking these scones to Fiesta Friday #70, co-hosted this week by newbies Dini @ Giramuk’s Kitchen and Mollie @ The Frugal Hausfrau. See you guys there 🙂

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Curried Ginger Scones


Recipe Courtesy of The King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion

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Ingredients

  • 3 cups All-Purpose Flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped crystallized ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 stick butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk, yogurt or sour cream

Directions

In a medium-sized mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Add the ginger, mixing to distribute, then the curry and sugar. Cut in the butter till the mixture is crumbly.

Add the buttermilk (or yogurt or sour cream), stirring till the dough just holds together. Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface, and pat it into a 10-inch square, about 1/2-inch thick.

Cut the dough into triangles, and transfer them to a lightly greased baking sheet. Place the scones in the freezer for 30 minutes to allow the dough to firm up (this will also make the scones rise higher)

Bake the scones in a preheated 425°F oven for 20 minutes, or until they’re golden. Remove them from the oven and paint them with ginger syrup, if desired.

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

Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts1

Welcome to the 2nd Annual 12 Days of Christmas Series on Cooking is My Sport! Baking goodies is one of my all-time favorite ways to get into the Christmas spirit, so I thought that I would share some of that spirit with you guys in case anybody out there needed some inspiration for baking ideas, or a way to get that ‘Scrooge’ out of you- because no one can resist food.

It’s funny the way that you can hold onto Christmas memories like no other kind of memories. I’ve certainly found that to be the case for me; whether the memories are pleasant, unpleasant or just flat out embarrassing, when it comes to Christmas I can retain an awful lot. When I sat down to write this post, there was one Christmas memory that kept surfacing in my mind over and over again.

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I was five. It was Christmas time and our church was holding the annual Christmas pageant that all of the kids participated in. It was kind of a big deal- or at least it seemed that way to five year old me. The Preschoolers and Kindergarten kids had one ‘big number’ in the pageant. It was a song called “C’mon and Ring Those Bells”. As such, all of us would be holding little bells to shake while we sang along with our teacher. We’d been practicing it for several weeks and by the time that the day of the show came along, I was feeling pretty good about myself. I mean, I could actually sing on key, I knew how to shake my bell to the actual rhythm and beat of the song (which was a lot more than I could say for the boy that stood next to me). This performance was gonna be a lock….or so I thought.

The Big Day of the Christmas pageant finally came around. Now listen guys; it would be one thing if we had just been performing in front of maybe a hundred people- but we weren’t. My church wasn’t all that small. Quite the opposite, actually.  The auditorium could seat a few thousand, and on that night it happened to be full. Take a five year old and suddenly put her in front of a few thousand people and what do you suppose it gonna happen? She’s gonna start getting a little stage fright. Even as nervous as I was, I was still determined that I was gonna own this song. Like, totally own it. I have a very clear recollection of not wanting to embarrass my mom and my grandparents who were in the audience watching. So butterflies or no butterflies in my stomach, the show was going to go on.

My mom had dolled me and Jas up in our brand new, stiff, uncomfortable (and in retrospect extremely ugly) Christmas dresses and Black Mary Jane shoes. I had a shiny gold bell on a green cord. And wouldn’t you know it, I ended up in the very front row. Everything started off just fine. I had a momentary rush of anxiety just before going on the bright, decorated stage, but it was gone after a few seconds. The house lights were down so I couldn’t see the audience, but I was still determined to make my family proud of me. When the music started and we began singing, I was ready; SO ready. I began shaking my bell-holding hand up and down furiously.  We were about a quarter of a way through the song- when suddenly, without any warning…the unthinkable happened.

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I.dropped.my.bell.

Guys. There are no words to describe the panic…the horror…the trauma, of what my poor little 5 year old self felt at that moment. I felt absolutely certain that everybody; my mom, my grandparents, the pastor, EVERYBODY in the audience had noticed my mistake. I had ruined the enormous, beautiful Christmas pageant. Skip that, I felt like I had ruined Christmas. If I close my eyes right now, I can STILL see that darn bell on the green cord sitting on the ground by my feet. It seemed like it was staring at me for the rest of the song, taunting me for completely blowing my huge stage debut.

“But Jess,” You all are probably thinking, “Why didn’t you just pick the bell up?”

Guys, you don’t get it. I was in the front row. In front of two thousand people. I couldn’t break the formation of the children’s choir line by bending down. If I bent down, everyone really would notice that I had done something wrong. All the other kids would simultaneously stop singing and laugh at me Peanuts-Gang-Style. I’d get in trouble afterward. My teacher would never let me be in another pageant again. My family would be disgraced.

(These were actual thoughts I had in that moment; I’m so not kidding.)

So I endured the remainder of the song while simply holding my hand and shaking it back and forth as if the bell were still really there; hoping, praying, begging Jesus to please let me not get into too much trouble when this entire ordeal was over. When the Christmas pageant was over, I took my twin sister Jas (who had been standing right next to me) aside and asked her if she thought something terrible would happen because I dropped me bell. You know what she said?

“Jess, what are you talking about?”

Apparently, she hadn’t noticed a thing.

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Yesterday, I posted a recipe for Cranberry Clementine Sauce as a prequel to the First Day of Christmas in our series. When I wanted to use up some excess sauce, I got the idea in my head to use it in a recipe for homemade toaster tarts. Because let’s face it: most Pop Tarts taste awesome, but the contents of the ingredient list on the side of the box are…not so awesome. With these, you know exactly what’s in them: sweet and tart cranberry/clementine filling in buttery flaky pastry.  I added a simple icing to them to make the tarts look as festive and Christmas-y as possible, but honestly they do taste good enough to eat plain.

I’ve got quite a few, so I’ll also be taking them to this week’s Fiesta Friday #46, hosted by Angie@TheNoviceGardener and co-hosted this week by  Margy @La Petite Casserole and Juju @cookingwithauntjuju. C’mon over guys, I’ve got plenty of tarts to spare.

Also, be sure to stay tuned: The 12 Days of Christmas on Cooking is My Sport will be continuing tomorrow with another great recipe 😉

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Cranberry Clementine Toaster Tarts

Recipe Adapted from Anne Burrell & Wilson Sonoma

Print: Page 1 and Page 2

Ingredients

For Tarts

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 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 (recipe follows)

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

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1-2 tbsp. of milk
  • 1-2 tsp. light corn syrup
  • Sprinkles (optional)

 Directions

1. 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.

2. For tart dough: combine the flour, 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.

3. 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.

4. 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.

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

6. 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!

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

8. To decorate, combine all ingredients (except for spinkles) 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.