A Queen’s Breakfast | Cranberry Oat Scones

I’m on a baking binge this week. I have decided to do the no grains diet again for the month of February. I know, I know, I’m CRAZY. This coming from the girl that eats granola every morning, loves a big ‘ol sandwich for lunch, and adores pasta, bread, and everything grain-y in between. Consequently, I’m trying to get my grain fix in these last few days of January by baking some of my favorite treats. Fortunately, I have a few posts lined up, so the rest of you will not have to suffer in grain-free hell with me. I know, I’m too kind. 🙂

Baked goodies are a real breakfast treat for me. Knowing that a tender muffin, a warm cinnamon bun, or a crumbly scone is waiting for my empty stomach in the morning…almost makes getting out a bed a little easier. I haven’t tried a lot of scone recipes since I came across this one a couple of years ago. It is such a good recipe – I’ve never felt the need to search for another. The sweetness from the cranberries and the little bit of sugar requires no additions to these yummy scones, so leave the jam in the fridge and try them out on their own. The fresh lemon zest and buttermilk give such a fresh flavor. These are keeper scones right here.

Cranberry Oat Scones (adapted from joyofbaking.com)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 tsp. salt

3/4 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking powder

1/2 cup cold butter, cut into small pieces

3/4 cup old-fashioned rolled oats

1/3 cup dried cranberries

zest of one lemon

2/3 to 3/4 cup buttermilk

Egg wash: 1 large egg + 1 TBSP. milk

Preheat the oven to 375°F and place rack in the center of the oven. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, baking soda, baking powder. Add the butter and cut it into the flour mixture with two knives or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse crumbs. Add the rolled oats, dried cranberries, and zest. Mix until combined. Stir in the buttermilk (start with 2/3 cup and add more if necessary) and mix just until the dough comes together.

Transfer to a lightly floured surface and press the dough into a circle that is approximately 7 inches round and about 1.75 inches thick. Cut the circle into 8 triangular section. Place the scones on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Make an egg wash of one beaten egg mixed with 1 TBSP. of milk and brush the tops of the scones with the egg mixture.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly browned. Remove from the oven and lightly dust with icing sugar. Enjoy (and try not to eat all 8 scones in one sitting would ya?)! Very happy eating to you all.

A Festive Treat | Christmas Biscotti

My mom brought these delectable treats to the cookie exchange last weekend. I spent the afternoon in the kitchen with her the day before, and we worked through the recipe together (neither of us had ever made biscotti before). This biscotti is quite delightful, if I do say so myself. The original recipe called for dried raspberries or strawberries, but my mom could not find either, no matter how hard she looked, so we improvised and used cranberries. The biscotti are loaded with pistachios, cranberries, and little bits of white chocolate, making them look rather festive and fitting for the holiday season! Not to mention the fact that they are delicious, especially with a nice cup of coffee or tea.

Never made biscotti before? Have no fear! They are fairly simple to make, just more time-consuming since they are baked twice. Stay inside where it’s warm, take an afternoon to bake these, and fill your home with the delicious scent of biscotti! These would taste great at any time of year I am sure, but the colors and ingredients fit with the holidays perfectly. Happy eating!

Pistachio, Cranberry, and White Chocolate Biscotti (adapted from Bon Appétit magazine, Dec. 2005)

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 TBSP. canola oil

2 tsp. baking powder

2 ½ tsp. almond extract

½ tsp. salt

¾ cup shelled raw unsalted natural pistachios

1 cup sugar

1 cup dried cranberries

3 large eggs

½ cup chopped high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina)

8 ounces high-quality white chocolate (such as Lindt or Perugina) and/or 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350oF. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Using an electric mixer, beat sugar, eggs, oil, and almond extract in a large bowl until well blended. Add flour mixture and beat until smooth. Stir in pistachios, dried cranberries, and ½ cup white chocolate. Drop dough by heaping tablespoonfuls in two 12-inch long strips on prepared baking sheet, spacing strips 3 inches apart. Using wet fingertips, shape each strip into a 3-inch-wide log, pressing evenly (logs may look slightly lumpy). Bake logs until lightly browned and almost firm to the touch, about 30 minutes. Cool logs for 30 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 325oF.

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Use the same parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut each log crosswise into generous ½-inch-thick slices. Stand biscotti upright, spacing about ¼ inch apart, in 3 rows on baking sheet. Bake until pale golden (biscotti may be soft but will firm as they cool), about 20 minutes. Cool completely.

Line another large baking sheet with parchment paper. Place 8 ounces chopped white (or bittersweet) chocolate in medium glass bowl. Microwave for 20-second intervals just until chocolate is soft to touch, about 40 seconds total (do not overheat or chocolate will burn or seize). Stir chocolate until smooth. Dip 1 end or 1 side of each biscotti in chocolate; place on baking sheet. Chill until chocolate has set, about 30 minutes. To store, arrange in single layer in airtight container and chill up to 5 days or freeze up to 2 weeks.  Makes about 3 dozen.

The Exchange | Neapolitan Cookies

Ready for more cookie recipes yet? ‘Cause there are a few coming down the pipe! Today I hosted a cookie exchange with some of my favorite family and friends. There were so many delicious cookies to share – I fear that I may end up eating my body weight in baked goods in the coming weeks! Clearly the afternoon was a success – check out my haul!

So many amazing treats – I can’t wait to try them all! I decided to share a recipe that I came across last holiday season – Martha Stewart’s Neapolitan cookies. I adapted the original recipe slightly (it also called for espresso powder in the chocolate half of the cookie, but I wanted to keep it a little more simple). The cookies were very well received last year, so I definitely wanted to share them with everyone this year. They take a little bit of time to make, but overall are quite easy, and they taste wonderful. The flavor of the orange, almonds, and cranberries blend perfectly with the chocolate and walnuts. These would make such a lovely homemade gift!

Christmas can be such a stressful time of year, with many demands (cooking, preparing for guests, shopping for gifts), but baking cookies is such a relaxing experience for me. I better be careful – at this rate I may end up with an insane amount of cookies to eat. But that would just mean more for sharing, one of my favorite holiday activities. Wouldn’t you love to receive a tin of homemade cookies from a friend? Try sharing these cookies (or making them for yourself). You won’t be disappointed. Happy eating!

Neapolitan Cookies (adapted from Martha Stewart)

For the orange-sable dough:                                         For the chocolate-walnut dough:

1 ¼ cups whole blanched almonds                              1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup sugar                                                                           ½ cup Dutch-process cocoa powder

¾ cup unsalted butter, room temp.                               1 cup unsalted butter, room temp.

3 TBSP. finely grated orange zest (2-3 oranges)       1 cup sugar

1 large egg                                                                            1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 TBSP. freshly squeezed lemon juice                           1 cup walnuts, coarsely chopped

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour

1 cup dried cranberries, roughly chopped

To make the orange-sable dough: Place almonds and sugar in the bowl of a food processor. Process until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the flour and set aside. Place the butter and zest in a bowl and mix using an electric mixer. Beat on medium speed until white and fluffy, 2-3 minutes. On low speed, add the almond mixture; beat until combined. Add egg and lemon juice; combine. Wrap in plastic and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

To make the chocolate dough: Sift flour and cocoa powder into a large bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat the butter, sugar, and vanilla until creamy, 3-4 minutes. Working in additions, gradually beat in flour mixture, scraping down sides of bowl twice. Wrap in plastic and store in refrigerator until ready to use.

Line an 8-inch square baking pan with plastic wrap. In a large bowl, stir the cranberries into the orange-sable dough. In another large bowl, stir the walnuts into the chocolate dough. Press the orange mixture into the bottom of the pan. Using an offset spatula, (or wet fingers) smooth top evenly. Spread chocolate mixture over the orange mixture and smooth evenly. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours.

Heat oven to 350oF. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shake the dough out of the pan and remove plastic. Cut into 2-by-8-inch bricks; cut bricks into ¼-inch-thick slices. Place slices on sheets, spaced 1 ½ inches apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until firm to the touch. Transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool. Store in an airtight container.  Makes about 6 dozen.

PS. Later this week…Christmas Biscotti!

PPS. What is your favorite Christmas cookie recipe?

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