Sunday, December 1, 2013

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Whipped Cream

Happy First Day of December!

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving; hopefully, you're still able to move from all of the food that has been eaten. Seriously, I think I gained weight within two days of my vacation! Time to fast, at least until Christmas!

Since I was home for the break, I had some time to bake. Again, I decided to make something with pumpkin- for some reason, I've been obsessed with it recently. I happened to have found this awesome pumpkin scone recipe by Bobby Flay online, and decided to try it out! I made two versions, adding dried cranberries in one and dried apricots in the other. The scones came out well, a tad too gingery (potent from both the ground and candied ginger), but otherwise moist and not overly sweet. Plus, the maple whipped cream paired perfectly! Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Pumpkin Scones with Maple Whipped Cream (adapted from Bobby Flay)
(yields 16 scones)

For one batch of scones (yields 8):
2 cups flour
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/2 tblsp turbinado sugar
1 stick cold unsalted butter
1/2 cup soy milk, plus extra for brushing the tops
1/2 can pumpkin (from a 15-oz. can)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup dried cranberries/apricots
1/4 cup candied ginger, diced

1. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, baking soda, ground ginger, and sea salt. Cut butter into tiny pieces and rub into the flour mixture, until it looks like coarse sand.
2. In a separate bowl, whisk together the soy milk, pumpkin, and vanilla. Add the wet mixture with the dry ingredients along with the cranberries and chopped ginger. Stir until just combined.
3. Flour the surface of the work station. Transfer the dough onto the surface and knead it a few times. Form into a circle about 8 to 10 inches across and 1/2 inch thick. Cut into 8 triangles and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Brush the tops with extra soy milk and sprinkle on top the turbinado sugar.
5. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven for 19-21 minutes. Take out, and let it cool for at least 15 minutes.
6. Repeat with another batch, this time substituting the cranberries with apricots.

Maple Whipped Cream
1 cup whipping cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch sea salt

1. Place all of the ingredients in a chilled metal bowl. Using beaters that have also been chilled, whip the ingredients on low speed. Increase to high speed once it begins to thicken and continue until it is light and fluffy.
(Note: Prior to making the scones, place the bowl and beaters in the refrigerator to chill).

Serve the maple whipped cream on top of the scones, or as a dip. Regardless, it is delicious!
Have a Happy Holiday, everyone! More baking recipes will come very soon!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes

It's that time of the year, y'all. Time for cold, wintry days and the opportunity to snuggle in at home with a cup of hot chocolate and the fireplace hearth.

Okay, that's a myth. At least, here in Southern California. 

But one can dream, right? The holidays are coming up, and what better way to celebrate the season with seasonal food items? 

This is my first time ever working with pumpkin, and I was pleasantly surprised to find out that it turned out well in the cupcake. Granted, it took longer to bake than I thought, but the end result was this rich, moist, earthy cake that I wanted to smush my face into. 'Cause it was that good. Here is a twist on the classic pumpkin pie, baked into a cupcake!

Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes with Cream Cheese Frosting
(adapted from Kim M. on "Key Ingredient")
makes around two dozen cupcakes

1-1/2 sleeves of graham crackers, crushed (around 20 crackers)
1-1/2 sticks of unsalted butter, melted

one 15 oz. can pumpkin puree
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup evaporated milk
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp each of ground cinnamon and ginger
1/2 tsp allspice
1/4 tsp each of salt, baking soda, and baking powder

Cream Cheese Frosting
1 packet of cream cheese (around 8 oz.)
1 tsp vanilla extract
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2-3/4 cup confectioner's sugar

1. Mix graham cracker crumbs and melted butter together until the mixture resembles wet sand. 
2. Line cupcake pan with liners sprayed with cooking spray. This helps prevent the cupcake from sticking to the liners later on.
3. Press two teaspoons of the graham cracker mixture into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Set aside.
4. For the cupcake, combine the pumpkin puree, both sugars, eggs, vanilla extract, and evaporated milk.
5. Add in the flour, spices, salt, baking powder, and baking soda. Mix until all is combined.
6. Fill each liner three-quarters of the way up with the pumpkin batter. Bake at 350­­°F for about 35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a cupcake comes out clean. Cool completely.
7. Prepare the frosting. Combine the cream cheese, butter, and vanilla extract. Slowly add in the confectioner's sugar and mix until smooth.
8. Pipe the frosting onto the cooled cupcakes. Dust with some additional spices and serve.

Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!

Sunday, September 22, 2013

"Bake-lava!" (aka Baklava)

I love Middle Eastern/Mediterranean food: gyros, falafel, hummus, you name it.

But currently, I have been obsessed with baklava. For those who do not know what it is, it is a pastry dish filled with grounded nut mixture and some spices, interspaced between layers upon layers of heavily-buttered phyllo dough. It is topped off with a honey syrup that gets soaked up into the pastry for an uber sweet treat. I love it.

It is a time-consuming process, especially with the layers, but the end product is worth it. Enjoy!

Baklava heaven!
(adapted from "Titli's Busy Kitchen")

makes 32 squares

1 packet phyllo pastry (or 20 sheets)
1-1/2 to 2 sticks melted butter

1 cup pistachios
1 cup almonds
1 cup walnuts or pecans
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice

1 cup honey
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup water 
juice of 1 lemon

1. Process about 1/4 cup of the pistachios in a food processor until finely grounded. Reserve; this will serve as the garnish.
2. Prepare the filling: combine the rest of the nuts, the sugar, and spices and process until coarsely grounded.
3. Prepare the syrup: add the honey, sugar, water, and lemon juice to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes. Turn off the heat, and let it cool. (the syrup can be made a day in advance. Just store at room temperature.)
4. Prepare the pastry: coat a baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Layer on the first phyllo dough and brush liberally with the melted butter. Layer another phyllo on top and repeat the process until there is a total of 8 layers.
5. Take half of the nut mixture and spread over the top. Use the back of a spoon to press it into the phyllo.
6. Layer on another 8 layers of phyllo dough, remembering to brush each layer with butter.
7. Add the remaining nut mixture to the top.
8. Top the nut mixture with the remaining 4 sheets of phyllo dough. Give the top an extra coat of butter.
9. With a sharp knife, score the top of the baklava. You do not need to cut all of the way through; this is just to make sure that the servings are divided evenly.
10. At this point, you can either bake it in the oven, or, if not planning to serve immediately, stick it in the freezer until ready to bake.
11. Bake at 360ºF for 30 minutes. (if it's coming out straight from the freezer, put the baklava in the oven as it is preheating to let it thaw)
12. Cover the baklava with aluminum foil, then bake for an additional 20 minutes.
13. Take it out of the oven, and immediately pour the honey syrup on top.
14. Let the honey syrup soak into the baklava for at least 4 hours. Sprinkle the top with the remaining pistachios before serving.

Because I am oh-so-"clever," I am terming this dish my "bake-lava." Ah, puns...

Happy Eating!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

AT&C: Avocado, Toffee, and Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a problem: I love avocados. Well, that's not the main issue, but the fact that I buy more than is necessary (4 for $5! Curse you, Ralph's) leaves me scrambling to use them up before they go bad. And they go bad fast.

I've used avocados in as many recipes as I can: guacamole, sandwiches, quesadillas, pasta, and...


Yes, it works! Because of their neutral flavor and natural fats, avocados are a wonderful substitute for butter in baked goods. Although I did use some butter in this recipe, the addition of the avocado reduced my need for the ingredient by 50 percent. No funky tastes- just pure and wholesome cookies.

AT&C all the way, baby!

(adapted from "The Kitchen Enthusiast")
makes about 40 cookies

8 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 ripe avocado
3/4 cup brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-1/2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 cup toffee, chopped
1/2 cup chocolate chips

1. Using an electric mixer, cream the butter, avocado, brown and granulated sugar until smooth.
2. Add the eggs and vanilla extract, and mix well.
3. Mix in the flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder.
4. Use a spatula to mix in the toffee and chocolate chips.
5. Cover the dough and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
6. Preheat the oven to 325ºF. Use two spoons to scoop out and place the cookie dough on a parchment-lined baking tray. Use your fingertips to flatten the cookie dough slightly. (If the dough still feels sticky, roll the dough in some flour)
7. Bake for 14 minutes. Remove and let cool before serving.

So don't be a testicle: get baking! :D

Monday, September 16, 2013

Blueberry Cobbler, Y'all

I'm goin' Southern, y'all.
The U.S. South is notorious for its decadent and buttery desserts: red velvet cake, pecan pie, Mississippi mud anything. It's so good, it's naughty.

So I decided to pay homage to the wonderful South with my take on the classic cobbler. You can make it with any fruit- fresh or frozen- but I chose to use blueberries. So whip out that apron, take that butter out, and flex your baking biceps. 'Cause we're makin' some blueberry cobbler, y'all.

(adapted from
Serves: 6

1 box fresh or frozen blueberries (I frozen fresh blueberries, then let them thaw in the refrigerator overnight)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
juice of 1 small lemon
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon flour
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1-3/4 cups flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
pinch of salt
5 tablespoons butter, cold
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons turbinado sugar
pinch of ground cinnamon

1. Grease a baking dish with cooking spray, then place blueberries inside. Add vanilla and lemon juice, and mix together. Add in the 3/4 cup of sugar, 1/2 teaspoon of flour, and melted butter.

2. In a separate bowl, stir the 1-3/4 cups of flour, baking powder, and the 3 tablespoons of granulated sugar. Use your hands to rub in the cold butter into the flour, until the mixture forms a crumbly dough. 

3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture (basically, make a hole in the center of the bowl) and add in the milk. Use a spatula to stir until moistened, the batter resembling that of pancake mix. Cover with plastic wrap, and allow for it to rest for 10 minutes to thicken.

4. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Spoon the batter over the blueberries, allowing the blueberries to peek out. Mix together cinnamon and turbinado sugar, then sprinkle on top.

5. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until a knife inserted into the dough comes out clean. Serve warm or cold.

Happy Baking! :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

A Quartet of Desserts #allout!

It's been a while since I have last posted. Lately, I have been experimenting with cooking, and, with a job and school, I haven't had as much time to bake. That, and the fact that I didn't want to overload on sugar foods.


Another day in the kitchen: the smell of butter, nuts, vanilla, and Nutella permeating and intermingling with one another. Making four very different pastries reminded me both of how tiring baking is and how much I have missed it.

From left: butterscotch cupcake with maple syrup frosting, Nutella cookies, Linzer cookies, Finska kakor

1. Butterscotch Cupcakes with Maple Syrup Frosting (adapted from "Bake Me Blush")
(yields half a dozen cupcakes)

1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup butterscotch chips

1. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together.
2. In a separate bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and vanilla extract. 
3. Add in the flour and mix until just incorporated. Use a spatula to fold in the butterscotch chips.
4. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line cupcake pans with liners, and fill each about three-quarters full. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until center comes out cleanly. Cool completely before frosting (which I did not, resulting in melting frosting and a mess!)

For the maple syrup frosting:

about 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I just eyeballed it in)
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tablespoon butter

Cream butter and maple syrup together. Slowly add in the powdered sugar, and mix until the frosting holds stiff peaks (not broken or too liquid-like).

2. Nutella White Chocolate Chip Craisin Cookies
(yields about 20 cookies)

1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
6 tablespoons butter or margarine, softened
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 heaping tablespoons Nutella
1/2 cup white chocolate chips
1/2 cup Craisins

1. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt together. 
2. In a separate bowl, beat butter and Nutella. Add in the egg and vanilla.
3. Slowly add in the flour mixture and beat until just incorporated.
4. Stir in the white chocolate chips and Craisins by using a spatula.
5. Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Roll tablespoon amounts of the dough between the palms of your hand and place them at least an inch apart from each other.
6. Bake for about 10 minutes. Let them cool completely before serving.

3. Linzer Cookies
 (see my "Going Nuts on Pecan Wednesday" for the cookie recipe. However, in this post, I used blueberry jam for the filling)

Blueberry jam (this is probably not the correct way to make jam, but it turned out all right, anyway)

about 1 cup fresh blueberries
about 1/2 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons corn starch

In a saucepan, stir together blueberries and sugar. Heat on medium to medium-high, and cook until the sugar dissolves and the blueberries begin to break down, about 15 to 20 minutes. Use a spatula to help break the berries. Add in salt and corn starch. Remove from heat, and strain into a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and overnight for several hours or overnight.

4. Finska Kakor (aka "Finnish Cakes")
(yields 20 two to three-inch bars)

1/2 cup almonds
5 tablespoons sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 sticks butter or margarine, softened
2 tsp vanilla extract (or 1 tsp almond extract)
1 egg white

1. Use a food processor to process almonds and one tablespoon of the sugar until finely chopped. Set aside.
2. In a bowl, combine flour, butter, vanilla extract, egg white, and the rest of the sugar. Mix until all ingredients are just incorporated. Wrap the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate several hours or overnight.
3. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Take out the dough and roll it out between two sheets of parchment paper, until about one-inch thick. Press almond mixture into the dough.
4. Cut dough into two to three-inch strips and place them about 1/2 inch apart on the baking tray.
5. Bake for 18-20 minutes. Cool completely before serving.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Salted Caramel Tart!

I try to avoid bragging, but I'll say this once:

I make a mean salted caramel.

Sugar, whipping cream, butter, and sea salt: just chuck 'em in, and you get heaven! Add an uber buttery crust to the mix, and it's out of this world.


Salted Caramel Tart (inspired by OnePotChef)


For crust:

1 cup flour
1 egg yolk
6-7 tablespoons chilled butter
1 tablespoon chilled water

1. In a food processor, process the flour and butter until incorporated. Add in the egg yolk and process again. If the dough still seems coarse and crumbly, add the chilled water. Process until the dough forms and is smooth.
2. On a lightly-floured surface, kneed the dough until elastic. Wrap it into plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes.
3. Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Roll the dough between two sheets of parchment paper, until at least 8 to 9 inches in diameter. Place a 7-inch tart tin, bottom facing up, on top of the dough, and cut the dough slightly over the edges of the tin.
4. Grease the tin and transfer the dough. Mold the dough into the shape of the tin. Place a sheet of parchment paper on top and weigh it down with pie weights or uncooked rice.
5. Bake for 12-15 minutes. Remove the parchment paper and rice and bake for an additional 5 minutes.

For the caramel filling:

3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup whipping cream
4-5 tablespoons butter
a pinch of sea salt

1. Melt the sugar over medium-high heat. It will turn a deep, amber color.
2. Turn off the heat and add in the whipping cream. Do not worry if the sugar solidifies. Reheat the sugar mixture until it starts to bubble, or reach 226ºF on a candy thermometer. Add in the sea salt.
3. Take the caramel off the heat and add the butter. Stir to melt.
4. Pour the caramel onto the crust and refrigerator for about 3-4 hours. Let the tart come to room temperature before serving.

"Cair-ah-mel" or "cahr-mel:" 

how do YOU say your caramel?