Saturday, October 25, 2008

Maple Tea Scones

I first got curious about scones when I tried one in Chicago. We were staying at the Palmer House Hilton and Sunday morning found us wandering the neighborhood for something that looked breakfast-y and open. (Call me naive, but I hadn't realized that many restaurants in downtown Chicago would be closed on Sundays).

We finally found a bakery and I grabbed an orange scone and ate it on the fly.

For a few steps, that is.

The little bit of saliva that naturally resides in your mouth was not equal to the task of moistening this hunk of arid dough.
I found a drink and tried manfully to wash the floury wad down without spraying my brand new husband with a flurry of very dry crumbs.

It was pretty embarrassing. Here I was, trying to impress said husband that I was cosmopolitan, familiar with foreign pastries like scones that neither of us had grown up with. But this--this--thing should have been enough to teach me to avoid scones like The Plague, if not for the wonderful chain, Panera Bread Co.

"But that's not real--it's mass-produced schlock!" You cry.

I know. I'm a baker, remember? But they do make a mean orange scone: moist, more cake-like in crumb, with a tasty orange glaze over it. I've put a few of those puppies away in the past few years, I admit.
My point, however, is that Panera has shown me that it is possible to create something much more palatable.

(Cut to a shot of a computer with a wild-eyed woman feverishly scanning recipes on the internet.)

I'm happy to say that I now have a cache of favored scone recipes that are my go-to's every time I find myself with leftover cream from making, oh, let's say, ganache from something horridly high in calories and v-e-r-y satisfying.

All of the recipes preserve a natural moistness and flavor. The one I share today is especially cake-like, delectably maple-ish, although I did whip up a maple syrup/confectioner's sugar glaze for it because you can't have too much of a good thing.

So, for today, I give you--

Maple Tea Scones

3 Cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbs. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
3/4 C. unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces
1/2 C. milk
1/2 C. pure maple syrup
1 1/2 tsp. good vanilla

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet or use parchment paper to line it.

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut in the butter with a fork or pastry blender or use a heavy duty electric mixer until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. In a 1 cup measure, combine the milk, syrup and vanilla. Add to the dry mixture and stir until a sticky dough is formed, adding a few more tablespoons milk if the dough is too stiff.

Turn out the shaggy dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead gently about 6 times, just until the dough holds together. Divide into three equal portions and pat each into a 1-inch thick round about 6 inches in diameter. With a knife, cut each round into quarters, making 4 wedges. The scones can also be formed by cutting out with a 3-inch cookie cutter. Place the scones about 1 inch apart on the baking sheet.

Bake for 16-20 minutes until crusty and golden brown. Serve immediately with jam or Devonshire cream. Or whip together a glaze of maple syrup, confectioner's sugar and a bit of milk and drizzle over scones.

These are incredibly good just after they're cooled, but they also keep very well for 2-3 days in an airtight container.*

*found this recipe at so thank Hannah when you see her!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Second Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Around

Today's recipe, boys and girls, is adapted from The New York Times, July 9, 2008.

This is--ta da...

Grand Marnier Chocolate Chip Cookies.

This is a good cookie recipe. It's not a great recipe, but it's a good one.
I wish I could remember where I found it. Friends, family, and ex-boyfriends all know that
my memory is by now like Swiss cheese: full of holes. I throw that out at the beginning of our relationship because it's only fair that you read this blog fully informed.

It's really not much different than various and sundry other recipes I've tried over the course of my baking life, except for the Grand Marnier.
I was so hoping that the addition of this gorgeous liquid would elevate this recipe
to the level of unusual and unique, bringing me accolades and ticker tape parade status.

But no.

Truth to tell, I (with my highly trained and discerning taste buds) couldn't even detect the Marnier in it. And that lovely stuff is too expensive to use in anything where it doesn't shine through.

That said, here is the recipe. Let me know what you think of it. Can you taste this?

Grand Marnier Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 C. minus 2 Tbsp. cake flour
1 2/3C. bread flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 1/4 C. light brown sugar

1 C. plus 2 Tbsp. granulated sugar
Zest of one orange
2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 tsp. Grand Marnier orange liqueur
1 1/4 lbs. bittersweet chocolate, 60% cocao content, chopped into chunks. **


Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars, and zest togeether until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir inthe vanilla and Grand Marnier. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5-10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them into the dough. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 12-36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerate for up to 72 hours.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a non -stick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop six 3 1/2 oz mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls: about a 1/3 of a cup***) onto each baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18-20 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool before serving. Yield: over 2 dozen, depending on size of dough mounds.

** Of course, I used more than the stated 1 1/4# of chocolate (it's a sickness, I tell you.)

*** I used a standard-sized ice cream scoop to make the dough mounds and it worked well.

One day very, very soon, I will deliver what I (and the unwashed hordes that I call 'family') consider The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.

You don't expect me to give away all my best secrets right away, do you? Then you'd have no incentive to keep coming back! Ta!