Tag Archives: Walnut

chocolate scones fresh from the oven

Chocolate Scones

I like mixing old and new ideas when it comes to recipes, and today’s recipe is definitely in that vein. One of the most popular home-baked treats during my childhood in Yorkshire, England was a scone.  Served freshly baked and warm, I would take a scone, cut it in two and spread butter and strawberry jam on each half. Simply delicious!

It seems, however, that not everyone has experienced the delights of a good scone – an American friend had no idea what I was talking about recently when I waxed lyrical about  the subject! So let me share with you a few scone facts AND my delicious chocolate and walnut scone recipe.

chocolate scones fresh from the ovenScones originated in Scotland but over the years have become a ‘staple’ food served in tea rooms and restaurants all over the UK. With humble origins as a basic oat cake, the scone is now something quite different. Today scones come in all kinds of variations with different flours being used and different extras such as sultanas, cherries, nuts or cheese.  For more about scones read the Wikipedia scone page.

The scone recipe I would like to share with you today uses some basic traditional ingredients but also has a modern twist – the addition of chocolate. For the same reason that choc chip ice cream became popular, I think scones with chocolate are an undiscovered treasure.

How To Make Chocolate Scones (makes 9 scones)

5 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1 tablespoon caster sugar (superfine sugar)
8 ounces self-rising flour + a  little spare for rolling out the dough
5 fluid ounces whole milk
1 1/2 ounces chocolate chips
1 ounce chopped walnuts


Put the flour into a mixing bowl and rub in the butter. Do this gently until you get what looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Mix into this the sugar and then the chocolate chips and chopped walnuts.

Stir in the milk, making sure all the flour is mixed in well until you get a soft dough.

Spread the bit of flour onto a suitable clean work surface and roll out the dough. Aim for a size of about  6 inches by 6 inches and with a thickness of about 3/4 inch.

Cut the dough with a sharp knife into 9 squares and place onto a greased baking tray. Make sure the scones are spaced well apart.

Brush the top of the scones with a little milk which will help them brown in the oven.

Bake in the oven, preheated to 425°F (220°C) for about 10-12 minutes until you see they are golden brown.

Serve whilst still warm with a side dish of butter, your favourite jam and a pot of rich thick cream to spread onto the scone halves.

Tip: A scone makes for a great daytime snack. Filling and tasty – but more than one might put you off your evening meal!

Cinnamon Candied Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies 4

Cinnamon Candied Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Do you own a kitchen scale? Because you’re going to need it for these cookies. Until now, I had never baked using a scale to measure my flour and sugar, but have been told it’s the way to go in order to ensure reproducibility. It makes sense, because how packed your flour or sugar becomes when using measuring cups will vary every time. Weighing it out ensures that you are using the exact same amount.

Now this may seem tedious, but actually ended up with less clean up afterwards. Instead of using various sizes of measuring cups, I just used one bowl tared on my kitchen scale. It made me feel like I was back in lab measuring out components of a solution. The precise amount of each ingredient is necessary for the correct ratio, which results in one heck of a delicious cookie.

Now, I did intend to also give you the cup measurements of each item on the ingredient list for those of you who refuse to do not own a kitchen scale, but they weren’t exactly matching up to any of my measuring cups. Of course there is always the rule that 8 ounces = 1 cup, but depending on the density of the ingredient (such as brown sugar versus regular granulated) this isn’t exactly true. So just go buy yourself a kitchen scale (I use this one by EatSmart). I promise you will find many more uses other than to make these cookies – even though these cookies alone should be a good enough reason.

To begin, you make the cinnamon candied walnuts. The quantity will exceed what is needed for the cookies, but they are great by themselves as a snack or mixed into your granola for breakfast. What you do add into the cookies is accompanied by chunks of chopped dark chocolate. After a short time in the oven, these cookies come out soft and bursting with cinnamon-chocolatey flavor.

Cinnamon Candied Walnut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Makes 2 dozen cookies

Ingredients

4 ounces unsalted butter, at room temperature

3 ounces sugar

3 ounces light brown sugar

1 egg

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

5 ounces cake flour*

2 ounces bread flour*

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

4 ounce dark chocolate, chopped (or chips)

5 ounces cinnamon candied walnuts, chopped (recipe below)

*Or use 7 ounces all-purpose flour

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicon baking sheets.
  2. Cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until completely mixed together.
  4. Add the flours, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and baking soda and mix until blended well.
  5. Add the chocolate chunks and the candied walnut bits and mix until evenly distributed.
  6. Spoon the dough onto the cookies sheets using a medium cookie scoop. Bake each sheet for 8 to 11 minutes until slightly golden.

Cinnamon Candied Walnuts

Ingredients:

1 egg white

1 tablespoon water

8 ounces raw California walnuts

2 ounces sugar

2 ounces light brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat an oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking sheet.
  2. Whip together the egg white and water until frothy (this can be done with a hand whisk in about a minute or two).
  3. Add the walnuts and mix them in until they are all evenly coated.
  4. Add in the sugars, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg (making sure there are no lumps). Mix until the walnuts are evenly covered.
  5. Spread the walnut mix evenly onto the lined baking sheet.
  6. Bake for 30 minutes. Stir once halfway through.
  7. Let cool completely. Place the walnuts in a bowl and break apart any pieces that have stuck together.
  8. Store in the refrigerator in an air-tight container.

Source: Adapted slightly from Chasing Delicious.

Three Nut Banana Muffins

If you are anything like me, you go to the grocery store with wonderful intentions.  You try to spend the majority of your time on the outside perimeter of the store (the “food-group” aisles), avoiding the rows of canned, boxed and processed foods in the middle of the store.  I try to keep the pantry and refrigerator stocked with healthy food options and more often than not, I’m pretty successful.

This is why I buy three pounds of apples, two bunches of grapes and ten bananas at a time.  I figure if they’re in the kitchen, we’ll eat them.  After all, it’s easy to grab a piece of fruit on your way out the door and voila – healthy snack.

But then, we have a crazy week sneak up on us.  We’re hardly home, we eat dinner somewhere else, or we just don’t have time to cook.  Those ten bananas start to develop spots, then turn brown, and finally get thrown away.  And then, I feel guilty.  Wasted food makes me feel awful.  Not only are there people out there who don’t have easy access to food, but it’s expensive and irresponsible.

Now, I know that overripe bananas are great to bake with.  However, making time to bake with them before they go from overripe to just plain rotten — that’s another thing.  Then I read that you can freeze bananas and thaw them for cooking.  It made my day.  Just peel them, cut them into chunks or puree them, and freeze until you need them.  My wasted banana guilt problem was solved.

And, since I now have a nice supply of frozen banana in my refrigerator, I can bake treats like these anytime I get the urge…which is fantastic, because these are quick, easy and delicious.  They’re chock-full of nuts, have a moist banana flavor with just a hint of warm cinnamon and a slightly crunchy sugar coating on the top.

I doubled this recipe and made jumbo muffins, but otherwise this will make 12 standard-size treats.  I would definitely recommend a cupcake liner because it will make cleanup easier and the papers help to keep the muffins moist during storage.

Don’t forget to come see me over at Lemon Sugar!  I’d love to hear from you!

Enjoy!

Ingredients:
2 and 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cups sugar
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon salt
6 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into pieces
1/2 cup walnuts, chopped
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
4 ripe, small bananas
1/2 cup milk
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Approximately 1/2 cup white sugar, for topping
1/2 cup sliced almonds

Directions:
Preheat oven to 400°F.  Line 12 muffin cups with high-quality, greaseproof liners.

In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.  Add butter, and using a pastry cutter, combine until butter is coarsely crumbled.  Stir in walnuts and pecans.

In another bowl, combine bananas, milk, eggs and vanilla until bananas are mashed and all ingredients are combined.  Add wet mixture to dry mixture and mix until just combined.  Batter will be lumpy.

Liberally sprinkle the top of each muffin with about a teaspoon (or two) of sugar, followed by a sprinkle of sliced almonds. Very lightly press the almonds into the top of the muffins so they adhere while baking.

Evenly distribute the batter between the muffin cups, but fill no more than 2/3 full.  Bake until a cake tester comes out almost clean, about 25 minutes.  Immediately remove from muffin pan and cool on a wire rack or serve warm.

Peach Cake with Cinnamon-Sugar Walnut Topping

Spring seems to be having an identity crisis. For the past month, temperatures across the country have been feeling a lot like early summer — 80 degrees in Chicago?! — but a trip to my local farmers market doesn’t match up. Weaving through the aisles of produce stands reveals spring’s typical bounty of oranges, artichokes, asparagus and even strawberries, but there’s not a hint of a summer’s harvest. Mother Nature has pulled a cruel bait and switch; it feels like June but the plump cherries, juicy plums and fuzzy peaches are nowhere to be found!

No matter. I’ve got a peach cake recipe that I’m going to make, summer or not. I’m intent on making it not just because of the peaches, but because of these four words: cinnamon-sugar walnut topping. Mmmm-mmm. A quick trip to my grocer’s freezer section provides a solution to this seasonal setback. I grab sliced peaches that were picked at their peak and flash-frozen, sealing in the fruit’s sweetness and gorgeous jewel tones. The rest of the ingredients are in my pantry at home and probably in yours, too! Nothing exotic, just a delicious combination of butter, sugar, eggs, sour cream, flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon and walnut pieces. Add the peaches and you’ve got an amazing dessert that will make your kitchen smell like peach cobbler mixed with cinnamon-sugar toast. A perfect ending to any meal, whether it’s spring, summer, winter or fall!

Peach Cake with Cinnamon-Sugar Walnut Topping
Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s cookbook, “How Easy is That?”

  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups white sugar, divided
  • 2 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 cup light sour cream, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
  • 3 large, ripe peaches, peeled, pitted, and sliced (Note: Sliced frozen peaches will work if fresh peaches are out of season, just make sure they’re completely thawed and at room temperature)
  • 1/2 cup chopped walnuts
  • Vanilla bean ice cream, for serving

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9-inch square baking pan and line with parchment paper.

Peach cake with cinnamon sugar walnut topping. Serve warm with vanilla bean ice cream and enjoy!

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and 1 cup of the sugar for 3 to 5 minutes on medium-high speed, until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, add the eggs, one at a time, then the sour cream and vanilla, and mix until the batter is smooth.

In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. With the mixer on low, slowly add the dry ingredients to the batter and mix just until combined. In a small bowl, combine the remaining 1/2 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Spread half of the batter evenly in the pan. Top with half of the peach slices (if using frozen peaches, don’t forget to completely thaw them first!) then sprinkle with two-thirds of the sugar mixture. Spread the remaining batter on top, arrange the remaining peaches on top, and sprinkle with the remaining sugar mixture and the walnuts.

Bake the cake for 45 to 55 minutes, until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Serve warm or at room temperature with vanilla bean ice cream.