Chai Spiced Scones

My regular readers know how much I love Chai tea! The warm spices, the flavour, the aroma. It lends its flavours well to baking. Now, I understand that Chai is very reminiscent of a Fall flavour, and we are currently in the middle of summer. Still, I think tea can be used year round, but I also believe that sometimes, you just need to make a recipe that uses the rest of the heavy cream in your fridge before it goes bad.

While some cool desserts were speaking to me, I just felt like a breakfast-type treat today. I found the original recipe here, and didn’t change a thing, except the glaze. I just simplified the glaze to a few less ingredients than called for. I also didn’t actually use Chai tea in this recipe, but Chai spice instead. I just have a jar of Chai spice in my pantry that was gifted to me, and it is incredible. Don’t fear, however! I will include the measurements of the regular spices just in case you don’t have Chai spice like I do.

These scones are good to make any time in the year, especially if you like the flavours of Chai.

Ingredients

Yield: 12 scones

For the scones:

3 c. flour
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
2½ tsp. Chai spice OR
¾ tsp. cinnamon
¾ tsp. ginger
¼ tsp. cardamom
¼ tsp. cloves
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ c. sugar
½ c. light brown sugar
½ tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/3 to 1 ½ c. cold heavy cream

For the glaze:

1 c. icing sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. cinnamon
2-3 tbsp. milk

Preheat oven to 425°F. Chill baking sheet in the fridge while preparing the dough.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, salt, and spices. Add the sugars, and whisk again until well-combined.

In a large liquid measuring cup, add the cream, and whisk in the vanilla. Slowly add the cream to the dry ingredients (I needed the full 1½ cups of cream because my dough was a little bit dry) and fold together until a shaggy dough forms.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface, and pat dough into 1 large circle, or 2 small circles (depending on how big you want your scones). Cut the scones with a pizza roller, then remove the baking sheet from the refrigerator and cover with parchment paper.

Place the scones on the baking sheet close to one another but not touching, and bake in the preheated oven for 16-17 minutes, until the tops are set and the edges are just beginning to turn golden brown. Remove from oven, and set on a wire rack to cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together the glaze ingredients. If you like a thicker glaze, use less milk. If you like a thinner glaze, use more. Drizzle glaze slowly over the warm scones (and be aware that more glaze will run off if they are warm) so that the glaze sets, then serve.

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S’mores Cookie Bars

Summer time means summer flavours, and what’s more reminiscent of summer than a s’more? I’ve experimented with a few s’more desserts here and there on the blog, and now, it’s high time for another one!

These bars have the best of both worlds. Everything you need for a s’more: marshmallow, chocolate, and graham crackers, combined with cookie dough. Delish! The beautiful thing is that your graham crackers are your base, so this is actually quite a sturdy bar. The cookie dough, laden with tons of mini marshmallows and chocolate chips, is put on top of the graham crackers, all baked together, and then EVEN MORE s’more fixings are put on halfway through baking to create a chocolatey, gooey, amazing dessert.

I found the original recipe here, and only changed the chocolate chips required. I didn’t have milk chocolate chips, so I just used all semi-sweet. You don’t need to, though. If you want a mix of milk and semi-sweet chocolate, just go half and half. I can’t complain though. These bars are pretty simple to whip together.

Paul loved these, I loved these, and I might go get one to snack on as I’m writing this. These cookie bars are so good! Make them now. It’s going to be a short post, because GO MAKE THESE! If you are a lover of all things s’mores, you will love these!

Ingredients

Yield: 24-30 bars, depending on cut size

2/3 c. butter, softened
1 c. packed brown sugar
½ c. sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
2¼ c. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
1½ c. semi-sweet chocolate chips (or use half semi-sweet and half milk chocolate)
1 1/3 c. mini marshmallows, divided
1-2 large chocolate bars
2 sleeves graham crackers, broken into squares, with 5-6 crackers reserved and crushed for topping

Preheat oven to 375° F. Line a large rimmed baking pan (13 x 18) with parchment paper.

Line the bottom of the pan with the square graham crackers. Try to get an even layer with no gaps.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the stand attachment, cream together the butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add the vanilla, then the eggs, mixing after each addition.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt.

Slowly beat in the flour mix until just incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips, and 1 cup of mini marshmallows.

Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, drop small balls of cookie dough evenly over the graham cracker base. Once all your dough is on the graham crackers, use a spoon or your hands sprayed with cooking spray, to lightly pat down the dough evenly over the graham crackers, trying to get as even a layer as possible.

Bake for 5 minutes in the preheated oven.

Remove from the oven, then sprinkle the remaining marshmallows over the top of the cookie bars, as well as the reserved crushed graham crackers. Break your chocolate bars into squares and sprinkle over the top of the bars as well.

Bake for an additional 5-7 minutes.

If your marshmallows did not get as brown as you would have liked, turn on the broiler and broil the bars for 1-2 minutes, keeping a close eye on them so they don’t burn, just turn a beautiful golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool completely in pan on a wire rack.

Cut into bars or squares, and serve.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container.

Hamburger Buns

Summer means barbecue season, barbecue season means burgers, and burgers means an excuse to make homemade burger buns! See what I did there? Chain of thinking. It’s a beautiful thing.

Despite the fact that I don’t really need a reason to bake anything, because Paul just accepts it and loves me anyways, one of his specialties is burgers. I’ve been playing around with recipes for hamburger buns for years, but none of them have ever been great. I’ve turned my soft pretzel recipe into buns, but as good as they are, they never seem to rise enough for me. I’ve used other recipes, but they also seem to fall flat. (Hah! I’m on fire today! My pun game is strong! Sorry…)

I came across this recipe, and I had to check it out. It’s originally from Allrecipes, but when a recipe says that almost a thousand people have tried it, and the review counter is a few hundred in the positives, AND every picture included from people who have also made these buns look incredible, I figured I was on to something.

Sure enough, I was. These buns are awesome, and can hold up well to a homemade hamburger. Give these buns a shot!

Ingredients

Yield: 8 buns

2¼ tsp. active dry yeast
3½ c. flour, divided
1 c. water, at 105°F
1 egg
3 tbsp. butter, melted
3 tbsp. sugar
1¼ tsp. salt
1 egg beaten with 1 tbsp. milk, for garnish
Sesame seed, for garnish (optional)

In the bowl of a mixer, place the yeast. Whisk in ½ c. flour and the water, and let sit 10-15 minutes until foamy.

Whisk in the egg, butter, sugar, and salt until evenly incorporated. Switch to a dough hook, and add the remaining flour. Knead the dough on low speed 5-6 minutes, until soft, sticky, and cohesive.

The dough should be sticky and elastic, but not stick to your fingers. Once the dough has reached this consistency, take the dough out of the mixer bowl, oil the bowl, and form the dough into a smooth, round ball, kneading a bit more if necessary. Place the dough back into the oiled bowl, and turn to coat evenly. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave in a warm place to double in size, about 2 hours.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat out to deflate. Cut dough into 8 equal pieces, then form into a round ball, tucking the ends underneath.

Pat the dough balls into rounds about a ½ inch thick. Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Place the dough balls a ½ inch apart on the baking tray. Dust buns very lightly with flour, and cover lightly with plastic wrap (this does not need to be a tight seal). Let buns rise until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375°F.

Beat the egg and milk together. Very gently, brush the egg wash over the buns, being careful not to deflate them. Sprinkle each bun with sesame seeds, if using.

Bake in the preheated oven until light golden brown on top, about 15-17 minutes. Buns will have stuck together if they were touching. This is fine. Let the buns cool completely, then tear apart and cut in half to serve.

Chocolate Raspberry Charlotte Cake

Hello again!

I have had an extended absence from the blogging world, and for that, I am sorry! It has been a crazy last month and a half. Since my last post (almost a month ago! Agghh!) classes have ended, final exams are over, graduation is done, and I have been to, and am back from, Edmonton, where I marked diploma exams for a week.

After I got back from Edmonton, I got sick with a cold for a week, got better, went to Lethbridge, and began to clean out and move my classroom.

With all that insanity behind me, I decided to make something a little fancy before the insanity starts again. I have a friend’s wedding coming up, and I am making centerpieces and the cupcakes.

A charlotte cake is French in origin, usually with a sponge cake of some kind at the base, and ladyfinger cookies surrounding a fluffy smooth mousse filling.

I decided to make my own version of a charlotte. I did use recipes I found for all components, but put all the recipes together for my own version. I used the sponge cake and raspberry mousse filling from this site, and the chocolate mousse from here. Honestly, I should have halved the chocolate mousse recipe, because it made so much. I have reflected the proper measurements below, but if you want just a chocolate charlotte, double the recipe and use just the chocolate mousse as a filling.

The recipe I used consists of the following: a ladyfinger cookie outline surrounding the pan, a sponge cake base, a raspberry mousse, a chocolate mousse, and a middle layer of ladyfinger and sponge cake trimmings.

Here is a fancy dessert that (other than the sponge cake), requires no turning on of your oven. In fact, some versions of a charlotte use more ladyfingers as a base instead of a spongecake. This is a perfectly fine, and the only reason I didn’t use ladyfingers was because I ran out, so I made a sponge cake base. Them’s the breaks.

I will warn you: this dessert is not for the faint of heart! It’s a time and labour intensive dessert, but SO worth the effort.

Ingredients

Yield: 1 9 inch cake

For the sponge cake:

4 large eggs, room temperature
2/3 c. sugar
2/3 c. flour
¼ tsp. baking powder
3-4 tbsp. raspberry preserves, jam, or liqeur

For the raspberry mousse:

2½ c. frozen raspberries
½ c. sugar
2 tbsp. lemon juice
1 tbsp. unflavoured gelatin
2 c. heavy cream
6 tbsp. icing sugar

For the chocolate mousse:

6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c. heavy cream
¼ c. milk
¼ c. plus 2 tbsp. butter, at room temperature
3 eggs, separated
¼ c. sugar

For the lining and garnish:

2-3 dozen ladyfinger cookies (more if you use ladyfingers as a base as well as the lining)
1 c. heavy cream
Fresh raspberries (if desired)
Chocolate shavings (if desired)

To prepare, line the bottom of a 9 inch springform pan with parchment paper, and the sides of the springform pan with plastic wrap. Trim ladyfinger cookies ½ inch, so there is one flat edge. Place upright in the springform pan, sitting on the flat edge. If desired, line the bottom of the pan with more ladyfinger cookies, and use the cut pieces to fill in gaps.

If not lining the cake pan with ladyfinger cookies, begin preparation by making the sponge cake. In a 7 inch cake pan, line the bottom with parchment paper. Preheat oven to 350°F.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the eggs for 1 minute. Add the sugar, and beat again on high speed approximately 7 minutes, until light, fluffy, and 3-4 times the volume.

Sift together the flour and baking powder. Sift the flour mixture into the egg mixture in two additions, folding after each addition. Be thorough, and catch any hidden flour pockets, but keep the air in and do not over-mix.

Pour batter into the prepared pan and bake in the preheated oven for 23-25 minutes, until top is golden and springs back when poked lightly.

Let cool completely, then slice cake in half. My cake did not slice evenly, so I had one even layer, and I turned the remainder into a secondary “crumb” layer with my ladyfinger pieces in the middle.

For the raspberry mousse, combine the frozen raspberries and sugar in a medium saucepan. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the raspberries reach a jam-like consistency. Remove from the heat and strain through a sieve into a bowl, pressing on the fruit to extract as much liquid as possible.

Into the strained raspberry juice, stir in the lemon juice and gelatin. Transfer back to the saucepan, and over the warm burner whisk together until gelatin dissolves, then take back off the heat and let cool to room temperature.

In the bowl of a mixer with the whisk attachment, beat the heavy cream and the icing sugar together until thick and spreadable. Once the raspberry syrup is at room temperature, fold into the whipped cream a ¼ at a time, until all of the raspberry syrup is incorporated. Set aside, at room temperature.

For the chocolate mousse, in a heat-proof bowl add the chocolate, and melt over a double boiler or in the microwave for 30 second blasts, stirring constantly.

Add the milk, and whisk completely. Add the butter, and the egg yolks, whisking again until fully incorporated.

In the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk attachment, whip the cream until fluffy and thick. Fold in the chocolate mixture.

In a clean mixer bowl (with no grease whatsoever!), whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Add the sugar, and whip egg whites into stiff peaks.

Fold egg whites into the chocolate mixture until cohesive.

To assemble the charlotte, in the prepared springform pan lined with ladyfingers, place the sponge cake in the base of the pan. Brush with the raspberry preserves, jam, or liqueur if using.

Spread half of the raspberry mousse in an even layer, and place in the refrigerator for 10-20 minutes to set up. Top with half of the chocolate mousse, and refrigerate again to begin setting up. Be careful not to knock the ladyfingers out of place.

If desired, use another layer of ladyfingers and cake crumbs on top of the chocolate mousse layer.

Top with remaining raspberry mousse, set for 10-20 minutes again, the remaining chocolate mousse, and refrigerate 3-4 hours until set.

To garnish, whip the cream into soft, thick peaks. Fill a piping bag with a star tip, and the whipped cream. Pipe onto charlotte, and garnish as desired with raspberries or chocolate shavings.