PUMPKIN SCONES WITH MAPLE DRIZZLE

pumpkin scones text2I’m not sure when it happened but, for better or worse, every year new foods become pumpkin flavored during Autumn.

Pumpkin pie? Sure – I’ll eat that maybe once a year…unless there’s a better choice.

Pumpkin ravioli? Yeah – a small amount encased in pasta is fine… now and then.

BUT, Pumpkin Scones? Heck, yeah!  I’ll have those anytime – especially with a maple drizzle.

Scones are super fast and easy to make – the less you mess with them, the more tender they are! So jump on board the pumpkin trend and try these delicious Pumpkin Scones!

Note: As self-proclaimed Queen of Freeze, I feel obliged to suggest (or nag) you freeze the unused pumpkin in portion sized amounts for future use. This recipe only requires 1/2 cup, so there’s plenty leftover from the can.

PUMPKIN SCONES – makes 8 scones

  • 8½ oz (2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 2 oz (1/3 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 1½ tsp cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup cold butter
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 3 T milk (any kind – I use nonfat)
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • Maple Drizzle – recipe follows at the end

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

In a medium sized bowl, mix together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, cloves, baking powder, baking soda, ginger, nutmeg, and salt. Cut the cold butter into small pieces and add to dry ingredients. Cross-cut using 2 knives to break up butter into pea-sized pieces.

(If using the food processor, place butter with dry ingredients and pulse about 8 times – until the butter becomes pea-sized. Empty into a medium sized bowl.) pumpkin scones9 In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, pumpkin, milk, and vanilla. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and gently fold to mix.pumpkin scones11 Empty onto a well-floured counter and knead about 5 or 6 times. (I use a bench scraper to help since the dough is sticky.) pumpkin scones3With floured fingers, pat dough into an 8″ circle (try to keep the dough to an even thickness) and cut into 8 wedges.pumpkin scones5Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet (I prefer a dark sheet that’s greased.)pumpkin scones6 Bake at 400º F with the rack in the middle position for about 16 minutes. They’re at their best when they’re slightly dark on the bottom. pumpkin scones7The last time I baked them, I thought I overcooked them (see photo), but they were amazing – a slight crunch on the outside and perfect chew inside. So when you check them for doneness, look for slightly dark sides. pumpkin scones14Then remove from oven onto wire rack to completely cool before icing.

MAPLE GLAZE

  • 1 T butter
  • about 1/3 cup confectioners sugar
  • 1/2 T maple syrup (use the pure syrup)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Melt butter. Stir in confectioners sugar, maple syrup, and vanilla. Blend well, smashing any sugar lumps. If icing is too thin, add more sugar; if too thick, add a little milk.pumpkin scones1For easier control over the drizzle, pour icing into a spouted cup or a pastry bag with a small circle tip. Design as you wish.pumpkin scones2Allow icing to harden before serving.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE: Snack Or Dessert – It’s All Good!

morovian coffee cake textMy introduction to Morovian Sugar Cake was a little bittersweet.

I found the recipe in a newspaper (this was well before the internet!) and it sounded intriguing. Being very young and inexperienced in the kitchen, I didn’t allow myself quite enough time. I was able to get it in the oven before I needed to go to work, but my roommates were left in charge of removing it.

All that remained when I got home was one 3″ X 3″ square. They said it was so good they couldn’t stop eating it. I ate the remains, and it was magnificent. In fact, I was amazed they were able to leave me any.

Note: Don’t repeat my mistake – allow enough time for rising!

MOROVIAN SUGAR CAKE

  • 1 cup water 100º – 104º Fahrenheit
  • 2 tsp yeast
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup instant mashed potatoes flakes
  • 1/4 cup instant dry milk
  • 1 tsp + 1/8 tsp salt, divided
  • 6 T + 6 T butter, melted, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • about 4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (dark or light)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

In a measuring cup stir the water and yeast together. Let proof for 5 minutes. ham loaf1

In the food processor, pulse together the granulated sugar, potato flakes, dry milk, and 1 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake10Add in 6 T butter and eggs. Process to blend.morovian coffee cake5With machine running, pour in the proofed yeast water. morovian coffee cake4morovian coffee cake11Add 3½ cups to processor and blend. Add flour one tablespoon at a time, processing after each, until dough starts pulling away from sides of the work bowl. Stop adding flour, and run machine another 30 seconds to knead the dough. Pour dough into a greased rimmed baking sheet (jelly-roll pan) and pat dough to fill the pan evenly. Cover with a tea towel and let rise about 45 minutes. morovian coffee cake2

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

While dough is rising, in a small bowl, mix together the brown sugar, cinnamon, and 1/8 tsp salt. morovian coffee cake1After dough has risen, create pockets with your fingertip, the handle of a wooden spoon, or something else that’s about 1/2″ diameter.morovian coffee cake9 Sprinkle the sugar topping over the entire cake. Drizzle the remaining 6 T melted butter over all. morovian coffee cake8Bake at 350º F for about 20 minutes, until golden brown. morovian coffee cake7Cool at least 5 minutes before serving.

 

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COFFEE CAKE: An Old Favorite!

coffee cake3 textMy mother used to love to buy lady’s club cookbooks. You know the ones – they’re made up of the members favorite recipes. Once I left home, she would buy them for me, too. This was years before the internet. Back then, we had to rely on cookbooks, magazines, and recipes passed on from friends and family.

Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake became an instant favorite of mine. Not only is it delicious, but it’s made in a bundt pan, which makes serving easy.

I feel obligated to disclose that back when I was very young and could afford the calories, I would top my serving of Chocolate Chip Coffee Cake with vanilla ice cream, followed by chocolate sauce. Amazing!!!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COFFEE CAKE

  • 1/2 cup + 1 T butter at room temperature, divided
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 cups + 1 T all-purpose flour,  divided
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
  • 1/3 cup dark or light brown sugar (I use dark)
  • 1/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, chopped & lightly toasted
  • 2 tsp cinnamon

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit.

Prepare the bundt pan by melting 1 T butter and stirring in 1 T flour. lemon cake11Using a pastry brush, paint flour/butter thoroughly on bundt pan – getting into all the crevices. coffee cake8In an electric mixer, cream together 1/2 cup butter and granulated sugar for 3 minutes (don’t cut this time short).chocolate chip cookies5 Beat in eggs and vanilla. coffee cake9In a separate bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.bundt2 On low speed of mixer, beat in 1/2 of sour cream (don’t worry about being exact). coffee cake10Beat in 1/2 of flour mixture, then beat in remaining sour cream, followed by remaining flour. Stir in chocolate chips. (The picture below shows vanilla being added now – I forgot to add it earlier with the eggs.)coffee cake11In a separate bowl, combine brown sugar, powdered sugar, walnuts, and cinnamon. coffee cake5Spoon half of batter on bottom of bundt pan, gently spreading it out evenly.coffee cake4Sprinkle on half of brown sugar mixture, then spoon on remaining batter, spreading it evenly. Finally, sprinkle on remaining brown sugar mixture. coffee cake6Bake at 350º F for 45-60 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean (it’s okay for there to be chocolate from the chips).coffee cake7 When done, remove from oven and let cake sit in pan for 20 minutes before removing to a wire rack to completely cool. coffee cake1Sprinkle on powdered sugar, if desired.

 

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES – Chewy Goodness!!!

chocolate chip cookies textThere are easily hundreds of chocolate chip cookie recipes. For years my go-to recipe was the one on the Nestle’s chocolate chip bag. While it’s absolutely delicious, I decided to see if I could improve on it.

Let me just say, there really is no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. BUT, some are definitely better than others. As usual, I started with an America’s Test Kitchen recipe, tweaking it to suit my taste.

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES  – makes about 21, depending on size

  • 6 T butter, divided, cut into 1 T pieces
  • 2 + 3/4 oz (1/2 cup) shortening (I use Crisco)
  • 4 + 1/4 oz (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar
  • 3 + 1/4 oz (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 yolk
  • 8 + 3/8 oz (1¾ cup + 2 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 4 + 3/4 oz (1 cup) bittersweet chocolate chips (I use Ghirardelli 60% bittersweet)
  • 2 + 1/2 oz (1/2 cup) semi-sweet chocolate chips (I use Nestle’s)
  • 2 + 1/2 oz (3/4 cup) pecans, chopped and lightly toasted

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

In a small light colored skillet (so you can see the color change – I used an aluminium pan), melt 4 T of the butter over medium/high heat. It will begin bubbling.chocolate chip cookies2Start swirling pan until butter is browned (turns reddish/amber) – it happens fast, so don’t leave unattended! (You may need to turn down the heat a bit or raise the pan off the flame.)chocolate chip cookies1 Immediately pour into large mixing bowl of your electric mixer. Add in the remaining  2 T butter and stir until melted. (This will cool down the butter.)chocolate chip cookies13 Let melted butter cool at least 15 minutes. (You don’t want to melt the shortening.)

Add in Crisco and, on low speed, beat until shortening is incorporated. (It can be a little lumpy – don’t worry, it will become creamy soon.) chocolate chip cookies6Add in the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, and vanilla. Beat on medium 2 minutes. Don’t shortchange the 2 minutes – it aerates the batter.chocolate chip cookies5 Add in whole egg and yolk and beat on low for 30 seconds. Let rest 3 minutes. USE A TIMER! (You’ll be doing this for a total of 3 times.) Beat on low for 30 seconds, then let rest another 3 minutes. Finally, beat on low for 30 seconds (this is the LAST time, I promise!) and let set 3 minutes.

Add in the flour and baking soda. Mix on low until flour is almost incorporated (don’t overmix). chocolate chip cookies3Add in the chips and pecans, and mix on low until they are evenly disbursed and all the flour is incorporated.chocolate chip cookies11 Line cookie sheets with parchment or grease. Use a 3 T ice cream scoop or a 1/4 cup measuring cup filling it 3/4 full. Drop dough onto cookie sheet, spacing them far apart – you should get no more than 9 per sheet.chocolate chip cookies10 Bake in a preheated 375º F oven 8-11 minutes. (Check at the 8 minute mark – they cook faster on a dark sheet.) You want the edges to look done, but not the center (unless you like crispier cookies). The cookies will continue to bake on the hot sheet.chocolate chip cookies9 Remove from oven and let set on the hot cookie sheet for 10 minutes. Slide onto a wire rack to finish cooling.chocolate chip cookies8It’s tempting to eat them right away, but try and resist. The flavor improves as they cool and firm up.

APPLE PIE – Best Ever!

apple pie textThere is a reason people say, “easy as pie”.  Making a pie IS easy.  Of course, making a great pie is as easy as making a bad one, so it’s important to have a great recipe.

There are 3 components to pies:  crust, filling, and topping.

  1. Crust:  You want it flavorful, but not overpowering.  You don’t want soggy-bottoms, but you don’t want crunchy (unless it’s a graham cracker crust, of course.) Yes, you can buy pre-made and it will be okay, but homemade is so easy and world’s better…with the right recipe.
  2. Filling:  The key to apple pie filling is…apples.  There is a myth that you should use Granny Smith or some other crisp, tart apple for apple pie. NOOOOO! Why would you want a tart and crunchy apple pie? I’ve found that the absolute BEST variety is Red Delicious (or possibly Golden Delicious). It will NOT get mushy, as some people seem to think. The pieces will soften somewhat during the bake, but will still retain their shape and individuality. And they’re sweet!
  3. Topping:  I’m not a fan of the double crust – a bottom crust is enough for me. A streusel topping provides added flavor (apples really don’t have that much flavor), with a nice crunch.
  4. Caramel drizzle: I guess this is optional, but drizzling on caramel adds an additional layer of flavor.

CARAMEL APPLE PIE

  • 1 par-baked 9″ pastry crust (suggested recipe follows)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 T + 1/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 6 Red Delicious apples
  • 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats (either old fashioned or quick-cooking)
  • 1/4 cup butter, cold
  • about 1/3 cup caramel ice cream topping

Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit.

Have ready a cooled, par-baked pastry crust. The best recipe I’ve found is America’s Test Kitchen’s Vodka Pie Crust (Don’t worry – the vodka evaporates away.) Recipe follows at bottom.

In a very large bowl (use large so you don’t spill as you stir in the apples), mix together the granulated sugar, 3 T flour, salt, and cinnamon. apple pie6Working quickly, peel and core the apples. Cut 3 of the apples into 1/8″ thick slices, and the other 3 a little thicker. Make sure they’re bite-sized for ease of eating – you don’t want long strips of apple. apple pie9Add apples into the flour mixture and blend well. apple pie7Pour into the cooled pie crust – there’s a lot of filling, so you’ll have to pile it high towards the middle. Make sure none of the apple pieces sit on the crust edge.apple pie8 To prevent over-browning, cover the pie edge with foil or purchased pie edge protectors (see photo of what I use).apple pie3 Bake at 375º for 25 minutes.

While pie is baking, prepare the streusel topping. Into the food processor put the remaining 1/4 cup flour, brown sugar, and oats. Run machine about 20 seconds to grind the oats and break up any hard brown sugar lumps. Cut cold butter into about 5 pieces or so, and add to processor. Pulse about 10 times to blend. apple pie5When the pie has cooked for 25 minutes, remove from oven. Evenly sprinkle on streusel and remove the edge protectors. Return pie to 375º F oven and bake another 20-25 minutes. Don’t let the top get too brown or it will make slicing difficult to cut through. apple pie4Place pie on a rack or stovetop and drizzle on the caramel topping. Let set at least 1 hour, preferably longer, or you’ll have a lava flow when you slice it.

VODKA PIE CRUST (AMERICA’S TEST KITCHEN RECIPE – amended) – makes 1 crust

Note: This needs to be made in a food processor.

  • 3/4 cup + 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ T granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 6 T butter, cold
  • 4 T Crisco (or any shortening), cold
  • 2 T vodka
  • 2 T water

In the workbowl of your food processor, pulse together 3/4 cup flour, sugar, and salt. Add in the butter and Crisco. Run the machine (don’t pulse) 15 seconds. The dough will come together into a creamy mass. Add in the remaining 1/2 cup flour and pulse about 8 times. Empty into a bowl.

Pour in the vodka and water. Gently (so it doesn’t splatter) fold together to incorporate the liquid into the dough. This is a very well dough. Press it together into a lump, cover, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

Empty the cold dough onto a very well floured, flat surface. Sprinkle flour on top and on your rolling pin. Begin rolling dough from center outwards.  Keep flouring the dough and the rolling pin lightly, so there’s no sticking.

Once the dough is rolled out large enough to cover the pie plate, with an inch to spare for crimping, you’re going to have to transfer the dough. Take your time – this is a wet dough! My favorite method is to take my bench scraper and go around underneath the dough a little at a time, lifting up the dough and pushing some flour underneath as I go. Once I get to the center, I lift up one side and fold dough in half. Then I carefully lift folded dough from sides and place in pie plate (Make sure you have it very close by!)

Unfold the dough and nudge it into the corners (don’t press the dough down – you’ll stretch it). Arrange the dough so it’s not folded anywhere. Fold over-hanging dough and crimp. Refrigerate 1 hour to prevent shrinkage.

Preheat oven to 375º.

Line cold dough with waxed paper or parchment, then fill with pie weights. (I use metal washers topped with uncooked beans.) Bake for 10 minutes. Remove paper and weights by grabbing the 4 corners of paper and gently rocking the weight package back and forth to loosen, then rocking it up and out.  Return dough to oven and continue baking until browned – about 15 minutes.  Keep an eye on dough, particularly when you return it to the oven to make sure the crust stays flat. If you notice it rising, gently press down with the back of a fork.

Once the crust is golden brown, remove from oven and let cool to firm up.

FAT-FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS – Easy As Pie…or Muffins!

blueberry muffin nonfat text2Being the loving husband his is, my friend, George, was whipping up a batch of fat-free blueberry muffins for his wife, Kathy, while we were visiting. I was curious about his recipe and what was used instead of the fat.

Turns out he uses a boxed mix. Sigh!!!  Besides being costly, boxed mixes contain 12-letter ingredients that can only be pronounced by a chemist. I knew I could do better! All I had to do was come up with an easy, tasty, and fat-free muffin. Piece of cake….or muffin!

After several batches, I had a winner. I’m not going to lie and tell you this Fat-Free Blueberry Muffin is the same a the full-fat kind. It’s not. It has a spongy texture – which isn’t a bad thing…just different than the crumbly texture of regular muffins. But if you’re watching your cholesterol and calories, this works great.

NOTE:  The calorie count per muffin is between 125 – 140, depending on how much sugar you sprinkle on top.

ADDITIONAL NOTE:  When I’m making something that only calls for an egg yolk (custards, cookies, etc), I always freeze the unused egg whites.  This is a perfect recipe to use them up. Conversely, I believe you can freeze unused egg yolks, but I’ve never actually tried it.

FAT-FREE BLUEBERRY MUFFINS – makes 12 muffins

  • 2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1¼ nonfat milk
  • 1 T lemon zest, packed into spoon
  • 1/2 cup + 1/4 cup sugar, divided
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup small blueberries (I use frozen)

Preheat oven to 400º Fahrenheit.

Grease well a 12-cup muffin tin with vegetable oil.

In medium bowl combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. blueberry muffin nonfat5In a larger bowl combine whites, milk, zest, 1/2 cup sugar, and vanilla.  Beat with an electric mixer on low, a hand-crank egg beater, or whisk until bubbles form on top – it takes about 30 seconds. blueberry muffin nonfat3Pour the dry ingredients into the wet and gently combine, until most of the flour is incorporated. Don’t overmix or you’ll get tough muffins. blueberry muffin nonfat6Add in the blueberries and fold in, just to combine. (Frozen blueberries – which I use – tend to bleed.)blueberry muffin nonfat7 Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tin, dividing batter equally. (An ice cream scooper is perfect for this.) Sprinkle about 1 tsp of sugar onto each. blueberry muffin nonfat9Bake in preheated 400º F oven for about 16 minutes, rotating them halfway through to cook evenly. They should be firm with slightly browned edges.blueberry muffin nonfat8 Remove from oven and let set in tin about 2 minutes. To remove, run a rounded knife around sides, then start pushing in around the bottom with the knife to help release the muffin. blueberry muffin nonfat4 Set muffins on a wire rack to cool a bit before eating.

 

LEMON BUNDT CAKE – Bursting With Flavor!

lemon cake1 TEXTWhen it comes to lemon desserts, I want to know I’m eating lemon! No faint hint of flavor for me – bring it on!!!

This LEMON BUNDT CAKE gets raves from everyone who eats it. It’s has a tender crumb, which is unusual for lemon cakes. Where bakers go wrong is they tend to add more lemon juice to increase the bang for their buck. But all that does to cakes and quick breads is make them mushy. Yuck! Yes, one needs some lemon juice for the liquid and flavor, but the biggest lemony taste comes from the zest (the very outer skin).

NOTE:  As Queen of Freeze, I would be remiss in my duties if I didn’t point out that zest can be frozen. So if you’re only using the juice from a lemon (or any citrus), go ahead and zest it (do this before juicing), then freeze those little flavor jewels for future use.

ADDITIONAL QUEEN OF FREEZE NOTE:  Cake freezes extremely well, so don’t be daunted by the size of a bundt cake. If it’s too much to finish off in a few days, simply cut it into hunks and freeze.

LEMON BUNDT CAKE

  • 1 T butter
  • 1 T all-purpose flour
  • 3 T lemon zest
  • 3 T + 2 T lemon juice, divided
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 18 T butter, soft
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 yolk
  • 3/4 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 T milk or buttermilk
  • 2 cups powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 350º Fahrenheit. 

To prepare the bundt pan, melt 1 T butter and mix in 1 T flour to make a paste.lemon cake11 Using a pastry brush, paint the interior of the pan, getting deep into the crevasses. (I’m going to be buying a new bundt pan soon!)lemon cake12In a small bowl, combine the zest with 3 T lemon juice. Let set 15 minutes.lemon cake10 Combine the 3 cups flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. bundt2In an electric mixer, cream together the 18 T butter and granulated sugar. Beat on medium/high for 3 minutes. (Don’t short-change this.)lemon cake14 In a small bowl, lightly beat together the eggs and yolk.lemon cake13 Pour approximately half of the eggs into the butter/sugar, and beat until just incorporated. Pour in the rest of the eggs and beat in. lemon cake6Combine the buttermilk, vanilla, and lemon zest/lemon juice. lemon cake5On low speed, beat approximately 1/3 of the flour mixture into the batter just until incorporated. Add in 1/2 of the liquid mixture and beat in. Beat in 1/2 of the flour mixture, then the remaining liquid. Finally, beat in the last of the flour mix. Don’t overmix – beat until flour has been incorporated and no loose flour shows. lemon cake7Pour batter into prepared bundt pan. (I cover the hole to prevent spillage – just be sure to remove it before baking – I speak from experience.) Smooth batter.lemon cake8Bake about 45 minutes at 350º F. Check for doneness with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let set in pan for 10 minutes before removing to a wire rack. lemon cake9While cake is still in the pan, make the glaze. To make glaze, sift powdered sugar to remove lumps. Stir the sugar with 1 T milk or buttermilk, and 2 T lemon juice. You want the glaze to pour, but not so thin it runs off the cake. Adjust thickness of glaze by adding more sugar to thicken or more lemon juice to thin out.

Run a rounded knife around edge of cake and flip onto a rack. Flip again so it’s right side up. Pour half of the glaze on hot cake. Let set for 1 hour. Pour on remaining glaze. You can see in the photo that the first glaze is clearer than the second due to the heat of the cake. Let set at least another hour before serving.lemon cake 4