Thursday, February 23, 2012

Bacon Cheddar Chive Scones

Bacon Cheddar Chive Scone

I'm resurrecting this oldie but goodie from my archives.  It's cold-weather comfort food, even if the temperatures have been remarkably high for the Boston area in February.  When I last posted this a couple years ago, they were a warming treat after a bout of shoveling in some snowstorm.  This year I haven't shoveled once (yay!), but these scones are just as enjoyable.

Scone ingredients

A food processor makes quick work of blending butter into the flour.  Crispy bacon and diced cheddar are stirred in, and the chives give the scones a nice bite.

Unbaked scones

It helps to give the scones a stint in the freezer or fridge while the oven is preheating, since cold ingredients are the key to tall and flaky scones or biscuits.  Brush with cream, bake, put the kettle on to boil, and grab a good book.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie

Ladies, does this situation sound familiar to you?  You've baked something for an event, a potluck, or a friend or relative, and your fella asks you where that's going or says he would have liked some?  When Joe saw the heart-shaped cookie cutters and ate some of the chocolate cutouts from the Two-tone Linzer Hearts I made for my sister, he was a bit envious.  I had something different in mind for him though.  Since he liked the Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups that I made for Valentine's Day last year so much, this Frozen Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pie sounded like a winner.

Frozen Chocolate-PB Pie

People with Celiac will rejoice to hear this pie is gluten-free.  For the base, I used storebought gluten-free cookies that I had intended for a different purpose and recipient but never got around to.  But the Pamela's brand cookies were surprisingly delicious, so I used them.

Frozen Chocolate-PB Pie Dish

I also made the recipe into four small pies, and you won't finish even one pie in a single sitting because they're so rich.  Two were made in 5-inch pie plates, and two in mini-springform pans that showcase the beautiful sides and base of the pies.

Joe was impressed with the beautiful pies, plus he went back for seconds.  I think I came out on top because my gift was a heart pendant, plus some of you might recall I'm no fan of mixing chocolate and PB.  And, I just might make those Linzer Hearts again.

This post was shared with:
Tea Party Tuesday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Sweet Treats Thursday
Sweets for a Saturday
Themed Baker's Sunday

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Four and Twenty Blackbirds' pies

Bourbon Pear Crumble
Before I set out to visit my family in New York for the Lunar New Year, I asked my sister if we were planning to do anything.  Visits with the parents can turn into couch potato sessions, lots of cooking and baking, and lots of baby watching and chasing.  She suggested some urban indoor park in Manhattan.  No way -- I can go to some real outdoor parks right here!  She then mentioned the former railroad tracks that have become High Line.  Um, no.  Not interested.

Then she mentioned this pie place I had heard of, Four & Twenty Blackbirds.  "Wait, did you say pie?!"


So we set out from Bensonhurst to Park Slope, leaving her Little One with my mother.  The area and neighborhood weren't too impressive.  I could have walked right past the place if I wasn't looking for it, and the bars made it look like some kind of jail.  Yes, I know bars are sometimes necessary in Brooklyn.  But it doesn't say "bakery" to me.

Dining Area
The inside looked all right, a nice, casual space.  Some savories and small sweets were displayed in a glass case, though none tempted me enough.  So, let's move on to the good stuff.

We got three by the slice to share: Bourbon Pear Crumble, Salted Caramel Apple, and Lemon Chess.

Clockwise from top right: Salted Caramel Apple, Lemon Chess, and Bourbon Pear Crumble
Mom and I thought the Bourbon Pear Crumble was all right -- lightly sweet, nice flavors, but nothing that knocked our socks off.  Sis hated it, though to this day I haven't gotten her to describe why.  Mom was crazy about the Lemon Chess, but Sis and I thought it was just okay and tasted just like a lemon bar.  I loved the Salted Caramel Apple, and Mom and Sis thought it was all right.  The Little One smiled repeatedly when given apple pie filling to taste.  Sis pointed out you couldn't taste much salt or caramel, and I had to agree.  I loved it because the apples were sweet and crisp, not overly soft or mealy, and the crust was both crisp and tender. It was a well-executed pie.

Display Case

That said, I don't think I'd trek out to Park Slope again for these pies.  These two hands can bake and have made many a pie, and nothing was so outstanding as to warrant the trip again.  Sis was more harsh, saying nothing in our selection impressed her.  Mom, being old-fashioned and not very adventurous, couldn't believe we took the train there just for some pie.  If you happen to be in the neighborhood, though, I definitely recommend stopping by and tasting for yourself.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Two-tone Linzer Hearts

Linzer Hearts 2
Every year the twin sister pesters me to make linzers around Christmas.  I think she now expects them around Valentine's Day, too!  I've done linzers a couple times on this blog before, but when I saw these beautiful Chocolate and Vanilla Linzer Hearts on Butteryum I had to make them.  I can just hear the sister complaining about changing up her favorite recipe, but I think she should count herself lucky that she gets any cookies.  I mean, how many people send you linzers without fail every year?

Linzer Hearts Red
I used my usual King Arthur Flour recipe with the hazelnut dough, but adapted Butteryum's idea to make half of the dough chocolate.  Guittard cocoa powder gives it an intense, chocolatey hit that mortal cocoa powders might not.  The chocolate cookie is further contrasted with the hazelnut layer by a shower of snowy confectioners sugar.  And the little cutout chocolate hearts are pretty darn cute.  I think the sister will enjoy these anyway.

This post was shared with:
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Tea Party Tuesday
Sweet Treats Thursday
Sweets for a Saturday

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Key Lime Cupcakes

Key Lime Cupcakes

I don't think there are enough key lime cupcake recipes out there.  When I got the idea to make some, I didn't find many recipes on the Web and I ended up adapting a lemon cake recipe.  The result was a moist cupcake lightly fragrant with key lime, which was echoed in the frosting.  To boost the key lime factor, you can add more zest.  Lime oil is another possibility, but adding more juice could dilute the batter.  But considering the praise these got, I think their lime factor was just fine.

KL cupcake PS2

I brought them in to work on the night of the Florida presidential primary, to keep up the sugar and carb high in the newsroom while we were working.  Aside from oranges, what else says Florida like key lime?  I don't think I'll be continuing the cupcake-for-a-primary theme, since my mind wandered to lobster cupcakes for Maine and Rocky Mountain cupcakes for Colorado.  Let's just not go there.  I often find key lime pie cloyingly sweet, but this cupcake dialed that back.  The frosting especially got rave reviews.

This post was shared with:
Tea Party Tuesday
Crazy Sweet Tuesday
Sweet Tooth Friday
Sweets for a Saturday
Themed Bakers Sunday