Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Morning perfection.

Scones are just about my favorite breakfast pastry. I would maybe say a flaky, buttery, warm croissant, but if I'm looking for something to really tide me over until lunch and not just a singular perfect bite (that is rarely all that perfect anyway), I'll pick the scone. And then for afternoon tea!! If a scone-only tea is offered, I will happily just order that, as good as the sandwiches and petit fours may be. With a smear of raspberry jam and a dollop of clotted cream, I am in heaven.

And there are so many kinds of scones! There are the dense, craggy ones, tender, biscuit-like ones that break off into layers, the crumbly store-bought variety that are best bitten straight into rather than broken off into pieces (lest you enjoy sweeping crumbs in your mouth), glazed, dried or fresh fruit-embedded, enhanced with chocolate. My idea of perfection is the biscuity kind with a firm shell that behooves breaking the scone off into pieces, pieces that break off almost layer-like, and that go from hand to mouth with ease. Butteriness is a given. This week's Tuesday's With Dorie pick by Mike of Living Out West was it.

Another super simple recipe, I was excited to whip these together before work yesterday morning. Perhaps freshly ground almonds would have been more fragrant, but I decided to give my roommates a break and didn't run the food processor at 7am when I had Trader Joe's almond meal on hand. For anything not particularly refined, I love using their almond meal for the flecks of skin and not-too-fine grind that I prefer against the tongue. Whisk together the dry ingredients, cut in the cold butter with your hands, toss together with the wet ingredients, shape, and off into the oven they went. These were the perfect size, too. They puffed up beautifully, held their form nicely, had a lovely golden tan, and just seeing the almond flecks throughout made me smile. Paired with Tiptree strawberry jam they were so good, and with sharp cheddar cheese, even better!

Scones allow for endless variations so walnuts, pecans, pistachios, along with dried apricots, figs, sour cherries, and spices might all be experimented with soon! As long as the texture maintains, I can do no wrong.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

To each their own.

Caroline and Claire of Bake With Us chose this week's Tuesday's With Dorie selection of Chocolate Oatmeal Drops. This was one of those no-appliance-necessary recipes that we can all appreciate, and minimal bowl usage used too! It brought me back to those early baking days when the only recipes I would attempt required a bowl and a wooden spoon or whisk, sometimes they were from a box, and they more often than not turned out well! Techniques have gotten a little more complicated since then, and bowls, spatulas, measuring cups, sieves, cutting boards, and serrated knives really add to the dish load, so every once in awhile it's a breath of fresh air to throw everything in a bowl and stir.

This recipe was so simple and straightforward, and Dorie's warning that the butter would separate from the other melted ingredients when the mixture got too hot was absolutely necessary. I simply took the bowl off the heat for a little bit, continued stirring, and the parts became one once more.

The final batter was quite soft after just being mixed, but when scooping each subsequent batch, the batter got firmer and firmer. I feel like the firmer batter made for a cookie that held its shape better in the oven even if the actual composition of the cookie was no different from the softer batter. My drops didn't spread in the oven like those of other bakers in the P&Q link, and though delicate, the individual cookies were actually pretty easy to transfer to a rack straight out of the oven. I can only assume this was due to having the batter sit out longer before baking.

The finished product was not as thrilling as I had hoped. Normally, I love the addition of rolled oats to cookies, but the oats just seemed to make for an undesirable texture this time. Too much chewing for a crumbly, brownie-type cookie. I enjoyed the deep chocolate flavor and hint of cinnamon though. The cookies do taste better with age. It's been two days and I think it's a tastier cookie than when I first took it out of the oven (which is often the case with chocolate desserts, don't you think??) Other people are loving this cookie, so I'm not quite sure why it doesn't have the same allure for me, but to each their own. I'll go hang out with Dorie's rugelach!