Tag - dessert

Chocolate and Hazelnut Scones

Four years have passed since my last attempt at making scones. Needless to say, they didn’t turn out very well that time around. From that point on they’ve always seemed so daunting in my mind. It’s the pressure of the perfect sandy texture when mixing the dry ingredients and butter before you dare add the wet ingredients. I’m never confident in this stage to know whether or not they’re going to turn out well.

I used a recipe from Baked Explorations, a cookbook that I’ve had since 2011. It’s a gorgeous book and full of great tips, wonderful photography, and is also home to a trusty coffee cake recipe. I’ve been blessed with wonderful desserts because of that book that I decided to be faithful in their scone instructions.

The scones came out beautifully! Jason said they were light and airy and complemented coffee and tea perfectly. Great job Baked Explorations, you did it once again.

Chocolate and Hazelnut Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup dark sweetened cocoa powder
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
1 large egg
1/2 cup heavy cream
3/4 toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup Nutella

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1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

2. In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt until combined.
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3. Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub it into the flour until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.
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4. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream.

5. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together.  Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands.

6. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12 inches. Evenly spread the Nutella over the dough.

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7. Roll the dough up to make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.

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8. Cut the dough into 6 or 8 wedges and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Top with toasted hazelnuts and slightly press in so they don’t fall out.

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9. Bake the scones for 18-20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean.  Do not over bake.

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10. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely.  Place the baking sheet with the parchment still on it underneath the rack.

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* * * * * *

Jason got me a new lens for my birthday and then I purchased a tripod a couple weeks ago. These have been picture-taking saviors! I tested them both out on this recipe and realized what a difference they make.

The tripod allows me to lower the shutter speed to let more light into the photo. Without it, I’m not able to do bring the shutter speed lower than 1/80 because the pictures will come out blurry. Humans can’t really hold a camera without interfering with the quality of the picture at a shutter speed slower than that. Here are two set ups with and without using the tripod.

With tripod:

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Without tripod:

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With tripod:

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Without tripod:

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Before the tripod/new lens I had to search around the house for the perfect lighting. This is not conducive to quick cooking and not always ideal when you have a hungry husband. The tripod and lens are great time savers and also take some pretty neat pictures!

No Bake Nutella Cheesecake

Whenever we go to the grocery store together, Jason typically finds a way to sneak between one and six jars of Nutella into the cart. He finds it hysterical. I consider it an addiction. When he was working in Texas for two weeks, I knew I wanted to make him a Nutella-based dessert upon his return. This was the recipe I decided on because it’s been incredibly warm in Oakland the past few weeks and turning the oven on doesn’t really appeal to me.

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No Bake Nutella Cheesecake 
(Recipe credit to mybakingaddiction)
12 Gluten Free “oreo” cookies
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, room temp
2/3 cup Nutella
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 8-ounce tub Cool Whip
Shaved bittersweet chocolate, for topping

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1. Place cookies in a food processor and pulse until they’re even crumbs. Stir them together in a small bowl with the melted butter. Evenly distribute into serving dishes (I used three) and push them down to form a crust.

2. In a standup mixer, combine the cream cheese and Nutella until smooth. Add the vanilla and mix again, then fold in the Cool Whip.

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3. Evenly distribute the cheesecake mixture into each serving dish and top with shredded chocolate.

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4. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before serving. Or, if you’re like Jason, eat immediately and wish you had more.

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Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream

We had the pleasure of hosting Jason’s uncle and his girlfriend this past week. It was their first time in California and it was such a blast. The weather was absolutely perfect and we took advantage of it by BBQ’ing and spending a lot of time relaxing outside in the backyard. Since it was going to be so warm, I decided the perfect dessert to share with them would be homemade ice cream! This recipe has a super strong coffee flavor, so tread lightly if you’re not a huge fan. You can always omit the espresso — if you use a bourbon soaked vanilla bean it will give the ice cream an impressive flavor and you won’t need the coffee.

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Espresso & Chocolate Ice Cream
3 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 cup whole milk
Dash of kosher salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean
7 egg yolks
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, melted

1. In a large saucepan on medium-low heat, combine cream, milk, salt and half of the sugar. Cut the vanilla bean in half and scrape seeds into the liquid and place bean in as well. Bring to a simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and cover, letting it sit for about 25 minutes. While you’re waiting, melt the chocolate over a double boiler.

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2. In a separate bowl, whisk egg yolks and leftover sugar until the yolks begin to become pale. It may take upwards of two minutes. Slowly incorporate warm milk and cream mixture into the yolks, being careful not to cook them. Pour all of the contents back into the saucepan and cook over medium heat until it begins to thicken. The final consistency will be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon.
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3. Strain the mixture through a small sieve into a large bowl and stir in espresso powder. Cool entire bowl over an ice bath for about 10 minutes, slowly mixing it so that the entire custard cools.

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4. Once cool, put into a flat tray, I used a small brownie pan. Carefully drizzle about a quarter of the chocolate on top and place into freezer to chill.

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5. Remove the ice cream every 30 minutes, carefully mixing it up and chopping the chocolate up so it’s evenly distributed. Flatten the mixture again and pour another quarter of the chocolate on top. Repeat until you have enough chocolate throughout and the ice cream begins to stiffen. Once it’s almost completely frozen, put into an airtight container and allow to freeze overnight if possible.

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6. Try not to eat it all before you can serve it to friends and family!

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Mini Chocolate Pudding Pies

Jason and I have friends from home visiting the Bay Area this weekend. We all met up in Sonoma yesterday for wine tasting and lunch. It was a beautiful sunny day with a light breeze — perfect wine drinking conditions. My original plan was to bring these little desserts for everyone to enjoy, but the 80+ degree heat would have turned these into mushy messes. Either way it was a wonderful Sunday with friends and these pies will just have to be tonight’s dessert!

Mini Chocolate Pudding Pies
9 oz. of shortbread cookies, gluten free
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 Tablespoons sugar
2/3 cup sugar
3 Tablespoons cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 large egg yolks
3 cups whole milk
6 oz. semi-sweet chocolate, melted
2 oz. unsweetened chocolate, melted
2 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 Tablespoon vanilla
2 cups heavy cream
2 Tablespoons sugar

1. Pulse cookies in a food processor until completely broken down into sandlike crumbs. Add butter and sugar and pulse again until everything is evenly wet.
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2. Put 2 Tablespoons of mixture into seven mini pie dishes. Push up the edges of the pie plates. Bake in a 325 degree oven for 10 minutes. Let cool on wire rack.

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3. Combine sugar, salt, cornstarch and yolks in a saucepan over low heat. Turn to medium heat and whisk milk in steady stream. Bring to a boil and occasionally stir. As soon as it begins to boil, it will thicken very quickly. Turn to low heat and whisk for about a minute.

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4. Pour mixture through a fine sieve into a large bowl. Mix in chocolate, vanilla and butter. Stir until combined.

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5. Place a buttered circular piece of parchment paper and chill in fridge for at least two hours, mine sat overnight.

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6. Put heavy cream and sugar in a standup mixer. Mix with whisk attachment for 3 minutes or until stiff peaks form.

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7. Evenly fill pie crusts with chocolate pudding and cover with whipped cream, lightly dust with chocolate shavings.

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