We have a lot of birthdays in our family — from May – August, we have one a month (or more, if we extended outside of our house) — so we eat a lot of cake. It’s a bit of a challenge to come up with distinctive and unique cake choices (and we all have our preferences). For example, usually I have a chocolate on chocolate cake for my birthday. Then I try to make something creative (but not too adventurous) for P.’s birthday. The boys usually opt for something somewhat conservative.
This year, I tried to come up with something extra-tasty for P.’s birthday, but not too decadent since it’s on the heels of the ultra-chocolatey Almost-Fudge Gâteau that we had for my birthday. After extensive research, I found this cake on the Cook’s Illustrated website. I particularly liked that it had a whipped cream-based frosting since rich chocolatey cakes are sometimes pushed over the richness edge by overly sweet, overly heavy buttercream or cream cheese frostings (yes, I know — it sounds crazy but it’s true!).
I served it at P.’s birthday dinner — everyone present loved it, but P. in particular said he enjoyed dessert even more than the dinner itself (and he’s not a sweets guy). He had his slice alongside a scoop of my homemade coffee ice cream.
I myself thought it was moist and chocolatey and all the things you want in a good chocolate cake. This cake blew the King Arthur Flour Devil’s Food Cake (that I made a couple months back) away. Sadly, it didn’t last very long — I barely had the chance to take a picture before it was gone!
C. was having a hankering for rolls, as he calls them, and asked me to buy some. But why, I asked, when I can bake them instead? I found this recipe in my King Arthur Flour Baker’s Companion. I really slapped the first attempt together and they turned out beautifully. The dough is very wet, so I strongly recommend using a bread machine (or a stand mixer) to knead it (as I did for my second batch) — it’s very hard to work with by hand. The end result is a slightly sweet, very tasty bun — C. likened them to Portuguese Sweet Rolls (which he loves).
Here is a picture of the ice cream we made yesterday.
Milk Chocolate Bit Ice Cream
Makes 1 1/2 quarts
1 cup whole milk, well chilled
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups heavy cream, well chilled
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 ounces Cadbury Dairy Milk bar, chopped into small pieces
In a medium bowl, use a whisk to combine the milk and granulated sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla to taste. Turn machine on, pour mixture into freezer bowl through ingredient spout and let mix until thickened, about 25 – 30 minutes. Add the chopped chocolate pieces during the last 5 minutes of mixing.
I took another stab at scones this morning, using yet another recipe. They turned out beautifully — moist, tender and not greasy like my previous attempts. And beautiful to look at too. This recipe is definitely a keeper. I also liked the cranberries (rather than the raspberries as in previous attempts) — no seeds!
Cranberry & White Chocolate Scones
1 3/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 Tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into pieces
6 Tablespoons half & half (I used fat-free half & half)
1 large egg, beaten
1/2 cup dried cranberries
l/2 cup white chocolate chips
Blend flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and butter. Add cream, egg, cranberries and white chocolate chips. Stir until dough begins to hold together. Turn onto lightly floured board. Knead for 2 minutes. Pat into 1/2″ round, cut into 8 wedges. To make mini scones, divide the dough into 2 rounds and cut each into 8 wedges, making 16 total. Transfer to baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 400 degrees for 14 minutes until golden brown.
Adapted from The Inn at Barnum Point recipe.
Another guest baker today, my 13-year-old. L. had to make dinner as a class project and had originally planned this as the starter. However, real life intervened and he had to delay the dinner by one day, so he made these for us early.
These pretzels are an adaptation of the Hot Buttered Pretzels recipe from the King Arthur Flour Cooking Companion, and were topped with garlic powder and coarse sea salt. YUM!
I wasn’t in love with my last attempt at scones so I thought I’d give it another go. I had another scone recipe kicking around in my files and liked the idea of the yogurt instead of the traditional cream. Given the yogurt, I’m not sure how authentic a recipe it is, so maybe they are “scones,” rather than scones. These “scones” are moist without being greasy (unlike my previous attempt). The picture above is actually of an ugly one — it was the first one I ate!
Here is my adaptation:
Raspberry White Chocolate Scones
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10.63 ounces)
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 cup butter, cold
1/3 cup milk
1/3 cup fat-free vanilla yogurt (I used Columbo)
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups frozen raspberries, unthawed (I used Cascadian Farms Organic)
1 cup white chocolate chips (I used Nestle… I’m on a budget!)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper. Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients, using a pastry blender, until it is the size of small peas. Whisk together the milk, yogurt, egg, and vanilla in a small mixing bowl. Add to the dry ingredients, along with the frozen raspberries and the white chocolate chips, mixing just until the dry ingredients are moist; the dough will be soft and the raspberries and chips may not be well-incorporated. Scoop 1/3 cup of dough (using a measuring cup as your guide) for each scone on to your cookie sheet. You will need to use your hands to gently form the scones and make sure the chips and raspberries are making good contact with the scone blob. Bake for about 25 – 30 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool on cookie sheet for 15 minutes before serving.
Makes about 1 dozen scones.