Ina Garten’s Maple Oat Scones

mapleoatsconesDo heart-shaped baked goods make your heart as happy as they make mine? In my book, it doesn’t even have to be February to bust out the heart-shaped cookie cutter and go to town! A delicious recipe and a loved one to share it with is reason enough for me.

My love for Ina Garten and her style of cooking began back in college, when I had five roommates and one television. Most of the time, majority ruled and the TV was dominated by Sixteen and Pregnant, Gossip Girls, Days of Our Lives, and other shows that I didn’t care for. Once in a while, I would somehow gain access to the remote control for a minute and flip it to the Food Network- naturally, my station of choice. We were a silly bunch of girls that liked to laugh, and when I got my roommates to watch with me, it was 75% poking fun at the cheesy celebrity chefs, and 25% drooling over the recipes. I secretly loved every minute of watching the ease at which these chefs seemed to talk about and execute their craft. Ina Garten, in particular, conveyed a true understanding of what it meant to love both people and food with her incredibly simple and comforting yet stunningly elegant dishes.

I feel like these scones are the embodiment of her cooking style: made with simple ingredients, invoke feelings of love and comfort at first bite, and styled beautifully enough for a photo shoot. While the butter inside these would not allow me to call these a healthy breakfast, they are laced with whole wheat flour and oats to give you a bit of lasting power until lunch. Paired with a platter of fruit and some coffee or tea, these would make a gorgeous addition to a fancy brunch or would be great for a weekend morning with your sweetie.

Do you think if I had offered these as a bribe during college my roommates would have surrendered the remote more willingly? 😉

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Maple Oat Scones
For the scones:

  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 1 tablespoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 1/4 cup cold buttermilk*
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon milk or water, for egg wash

For the glaze:

  • 3/4 cup confectioners’ sugar
  • 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  1. Preheat oven to 400.
  2. Combine flours, oats, baking powder, sugar, and salt in a large bowl (with the paddle attachment of a stand mixer, if you have one).
  3. Blend (or cut in, if no stand mixer) in the cold butter with mixer at lowest speed until butter chunks are the size of peas.
  4. Combine the buttermilk, syrup, and eggs, and add all at once to the bowl. Combine just until incorporated.
  5. As the dough will be sticky, heavily flour a surface and turn the dough out onto it. Roll or pat out (I patted) the dough until it is 3/4-1 inch tall. Lumps of butter are ok to be in the dough. Cut out 7 to 9 scones, using whatever biscuit cutter you have handy or think is cute! My heart was about 3 1/2 inches across and I got nine, but a plain 3 inch round biscuit cutter should work just fine as well.
  6. Leaving an inch of space between each scone, place on a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper. Use a pastry brush to egg wash the biscuits, and bake for 20-25 minutes. Tops should be golden.
  7. Meanwhile, use a little whisk or fork to beat the glaze ingredients together. After the scones have cooled for at least five minutes, drip a tablespoon of glaze onto each scone. Garnish with a sprinkling of dry oats!

*as I had no buttermilk on hand, I used the old lemon juice combined with milk trick to make faux buttermilk. I just squeezed a half tablespoon worth of lemon juice into a 1/4 cup measuring cup, filled the rest with regular milk, and let it sit for five minutes before I incorporated it.

Gingerbread cake with molasses-lemon cream cheese frosting.

gingercake4Have you heard? Ginger is the new black carrot. Ginger is spicy, sassy, and the perfect vehicle for luscious cream cheese frosting. I believe that ginger, although seemingly usurped by other seasonal flavors (I’m looking at you, peppermint and eggnog!), deserves a spot amongst the best of the Christmas-time desserts.

So why should ginger, such a regal and bold spice, be confined to boy and girl cutouts?

If you’ve never had crystallized ginger, let this cake be the reason you finally try some out. The little spicy, tan-colored jewels were actually the inspiration for this cake. Chatting with a coworker about how we liked to pop them like candy, I suddenly envisioned a cream-cheese covered cake studded with nuts and surprising bits of spicy crystallized ginger. And I could not get the idea out of my head until the cake was sitting on the counter in my kitchen!

This cake is definitely a rip-off of carrot cake with a seasonal spin. But a rip-off never tasted so good!

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Gingerbread Cake

  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 cup unsulphured molasses
  • 1 cup milk

Molasses-lemon cream cheese frosting/garnish

  • 8 oz cream cheese (can come straight from refrigerator if butter is soft)
  • 5 T butter, room temperature
  • 1 T molasses
  • 1/2 tsp lemon extract
  • 2 cups powdered sugar, measured and then sifted
  • 1 cup each of pecans and walnuts, measured and then processed/chopped smallish
  • 1/4 cup crystallized ginger, measured and then chopped, plus extra whole for garnish

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Spray and flour an 8-inch springform pan (which I did), or a 9-inch cake pan.
  2. Whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and ground cloves. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, cream butter and sugar until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating well after each egg. Add molasses and lemon zest, combine.
  4. Add the milk and flour mixture alternatively, mixing after each addition, starting and ending with the flour mixture.
  5. Pour batter into prepared pan, and bake, checking at 45 minutes. Mine took over an hour, probably because of the tall 8-inch pan.
  6. Meanwhile, in a new bowl, cream together the butter, softened cream cheese, molasses, and extract. Add powdered sugar a little at a time, fully incorporating after each addition.
  7. When cake is turned out of pan and completely cool, torte the cake (slice it in half horizontally.) Spread frosting in between the cake layers and sandwich back together; frost the entire cake. (If cream cheese frosting is difficult to work with, microwave at 15 second intervals, stirring after each 15 seconds, until consistency is spreadable and workable.)
  8. Combine the chopped pecans, walnuts, and ginger. Press into the side of the cake, and sprinkle onto the top center. Garnish with large chunks of ginger.

Enjoy, from my kitchen to yours! ❤

Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies.

I’m warning you.

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I may be getting ahead of myself, as these are only the second batch of cookies I’ve baked this season, but these may be the mother of all Christmas cookies.

A brownie-like texture with crispy edges. Rich chocolatey goodness begging for a glass of milk to take a dip into. Crunchy peppermint shards gracing the top.

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Ohhhh, yeah. Let’s just say… Santa’s going to need Mrs. Claus to tailor the waist of his pants after he visits our house this year. I may need to do some sewing of my own, at the rate Mr. Webb and I have been consuming these cookies…

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Chewy Double Chocolate Peppermint Cookies

7 oz semisweet chocolate chips, divided
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 cup flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 eggs, room temp
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4 tsp. peppermint extract
1 oz crushed peppermint candy, plus more for top

1) Melt 4 oz. of chocolate, set aside.
2) Beat butter and sugar together until pale and fluffy.
3) Add eggs, one at a time, beating to incorporate after each. Add both extracts.
4) Combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt. Add to butter mixture.
5) Stir in remaining 3 oz. of chocolate chips and 1 oz. of peppermint candy.
6) Drop large spoonfuls of dough (about 2 T) onto parchment-lined cookie sheet, allowing plenty of room to spread. Push a sprinkling of crushed peppermint into the top of each dough ball.
7) Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 12-15 minutes, or until edges are firm and dry.

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you…

Vitamin C Pancakes: aka bachelor pad flapjacks.

This past weekend, I finally made the four hour drive to where my only brother goes to college to spend some quality sibling bonding time. He showed me around his beautiful campus, pointed out the spots that he likes to hang out around town on the weekends, and took me to a local burger joint overrun with students. We bowled a couple of games at the student center (the worst of my life, may I add?), and spent almost two hours wandering up and down a very long, fantastically lit and Christmas-happy street.

All that to say, it was a very fun and activity-full weekend! Sustenance was badly needed.

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The last morning I was there, I offered to whip up some pancakes for us. (My brother, looking surprised, asked, “Did you bring a pancake mix?” Haha, love him!) I knew that he had ingredients in his house for at least making chocolate chip cookies, so I assumed that I was going to be able to make something happen for us. After surveying his pantry and finding flour and baking soda but no baking powder, and checking his fridge to find milk but no eggs, I realized I may have more of a challenge than I had expected.

A quick google search of “pancakes without eggs” turned up a plethora of recipes for pancakes with baking powder. A google search of “pancakes without baking soda” turned up a myriad of recipes containing eggs and/or buttermilk. I thought that perhaps I should hold up the white flag and declare cereal for breakfast.

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The food nerd in me (and my promise to my brother) caused me to press on. I found that the difference between baking soda and baking powder is this: baking soda needs something acidic to react with to create the gas that causes the bread/pancakes to rise. Baking powder is simply comprised of 1/3 baking soda and 1/3 acidic substance, and reacts and releases gas when wet. So, I had baking soda, and I needed something acidic to put in my pancakes to get them to rise:

And it was then that I saw the near-empty container of orange juice lurking in the back of my brother’s refrigerator.

My final google search led me to a recipe that replaced all of the liquid with orange juice, but still contained eggs. With zero eggs and running low on google-search steam, I simply omitted the eggs and doubled the baking soda, hoping that they would get enough rise.

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To my great surprise (and my brothers’ as well, who looked at my recipe for “orange juice pancakes” and raised his eyebrows), these turned out to be some of the best tasting and fluffiest pancakes I have ever made. The orange flavor was barely detectable if noticeable at all, and thus provided a great backdrop for toppings of your choosing.

Also on the plus side: these pancakes are completely vegan, full of Vitamin C from the OJ, and can be made from the contents of a bachelor pad refrigerator! That’s a win on all accounts, I think.

Vitamin C Pancakes (Bachelor Pad Flapjacks)

serves 2, well

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 T sugar
  • 1 1/4 cup + 2 T orange juice
  • 2 T vegetable oil
  1. Heat a skillet to medium heat, and spray with cooking spray.
  2. Combine all dry ingredients, and add orange juice and oil. Whisk until combined.
  3. Drop onto skillet by 1/4 cup, flip over once top is covered in little bubbles.
  4. Allow to cook for about two minutes more, and remove from skillet.

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The original- my brother’s plate, drenched in syrup and smothered in whipped cream. Could he have perhaps been influenced by Buddy the Elf? We watched that movie the night before…