Cranberry Cream Scones

I’m on a scones kick right now. Just like my brownie obsession a few weeks ago, scones have now taken top priority in my house (with my kids coming in at a close 2nd, and drinking an entire cup of coffee before everyone wakes up at a distant 3rd). I adapted this recipe from Karen DeMasco’s The Craft Of Baking. Her’s was a cream scone base studded with chocolate chips. I decided to go with cranberries instead because I needed to do something with my frozen cranberries. It was a nice choice, if I do say so myself. Each bite had a burst of cranberry tang, which was then mildly softened by the sweetness of the sugar and the cream. Here are a few things I learned while making these scrumptious cranberry cream scones:

  1. Like pie pastry, all ingredients must be cold. This will make for a flakier texture. 
  2. The mixing process is simple– mix the dry ingredients together, then mix in the add-ins (fruit, chocolate chips, nuts, etc.), finally mix in the wet ingredients until just combined. Don’t overwork the dough or the scones will be tough.
  3. I highly recommend using an instant-read thermometer to determine doneness. Most recipes say that the scones are ready when they appear golden brown, however, this can be deceiving. My first batch were practically raw on the inside while golden brown on the outside. Sure I still ate them all, but they are much better when cooked a little longer. The scones are ready when they have an internal temperature of 200 degrees F. 
  4. Scones are best eaten fresh out of the oven, but you can make the dough ahead of time, shape it, and then freeze it for up to 2 weeks. When ready to bake  just add an extra 5 minutes of baking time.

Continue reading →

Caramel Chocolate Mousse Torte

I recently had a slice or two (it was three slices, but not in one sitting) of the most delicious chocolate mousse cake from Citarella in New York City. I couldn’t stop dreaming of this dessert, so I set out to create my own. Each element of this caramel chocolate mousse torte is from former recipes I’ve posted on Project Pastry Love. I thought it should have a crunchy textured layer, so I made a chocolate cookie crust as the base from my chocolate peanut butter pie post. I used David Lebovitz’s caramel chocolate mousse as the featured star of this production, and brought it on home with a blanket of rich chocolate ganache. Last week I attended a cookie decorating party, and learned a cute trick of creating whimsical hearts using two types of icing and a toothpick (thanks Liz!). Using this technique I made 4 hearts, and like a well thought out tattoo, each one represents something special in my life (Aron, Cameron, Wesley, and this most delicious torte).  Continue reading →

Minny’s Chocolate Pie

I’ve always wanted to try Minny’s chocolate pie from Kathryn Stockett’s book The Help. Thanks to Lee Ann Flemming and Food & Wine Magazine I found the recipe. It is one of the most delicious pies I’ve ever eaten. Easy to make too! The filling is chocolatey and slightly fudgy, but also has a soft, billowy texture. I used 3/4 of my rough puff pastry as its vessel, which provided a nice buttery contrast to the chocolate flavor. I must confess that this particular version is missing one terrible awful ingredient. That’s a good thing. Continue reading →

Potato, Leek, and Gruyere Tart

My dining room table would be set with mismatched, vintage floral china placed on top of a soft, white table cloth. Daisies would be proudly sprouting from a large mason jar placed in the center of it all. A bottle of Vouvray would be chilling in an ice bucket with it’s cork out ready to be poured. I’d have Pink Martini’s Sympathique playing in the background. My guests would arrive just before the rain started, and while I filled their glasses with wine, someone would open the window so that we could hear it come down. We’d start off talking about the weather (thunderstorms ahead) and politics, but at some point, and I’m not sure why, we’d soon be divulging our funniest, most embarrassing moments. I’d pop open another bottle of wine, and worry that maybe I didn’t buy enough. We’d all sit around the table making toasts to each other–most would be silly, but one or two would tug at our hearts. Lunch starts with a spring salad dressed with a simple pine nut, white balsamic vinaigrette. Thunder would roll in the distance, and the table would get giddy. I’d take out the potato, leek, and Gruyere tart from the oven and the giddiness would turn to “oohs and ahhs”. Not much conversation would happen then, and the tart would disappear quickly.  I’d clear the plates, and turn on the coffee maker. However, the coffee pot would never be poured, but two more bottles of wine surely would. I’d fill bowls with homemade vanilla ice cream, and top them with the first berries of the season. We’d eat this in the living room with our feet propped up on the coffee table and couch. The sun makes his appearance “hooray!”, and so to delay the end of a special time we’d all go for a walk together around my neighborhood.  Continue reading →