raisins

Maple Raisin Scones

Scones, either you get them or you don’t. It’s like jazz. I love ’em both. I was trying to explain them to my kids, “They’re kind of like a cross between a cookie and a biscuit, a muffin-cracker…” I appreciate their dryer and less sweet nature. I love that you can load them with fun dried fruits and citrus zests. And of course I think anything that complements my cup of coffee is pretty fantastic.

As organic as possible:

1 cup Whole wheat flour

1 cup Flour

2 tsp Baking powder

2 Tbsp Sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 cup Butter (cold), cut into cubes

1/2 cup (rounded) dried Raisins

1 1/2 Tbsp Lemon zest

1 Egg

3 Tbsp Maple Syrup

3/4 cup Cream

 

Preheat the oven to 375°.

Whisk the dry ingredients; whole wheat flour, flour, baking powder, sugar, salt. Using a pastry blender or two table knives cut the butter into the dry mixture until it resembles pea sized crumbs. Add the raisins and zest, toss until evenly distributed.

In a small bowl whisk the egg. Add the maple syrup and continue to whisk until blended. Pour in the cream and whisk a little more.

Add the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. Gently stir until all is combined. Then place the dough onto a lightly floured surface and shape into a rectangle. (An oval will do fine, just try to cut even pieces.) Using a dough lift or knife, cut the dough in half lengthwise and across the center width making 4 small rectangles. Then cut those small rectangles in half through the width (making 8 squares). Next cut diagonally from corner to corner (making 16 triangles). Use the lift and place the triangles onto a Silpat or parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 20-25 minutes. Until the bottom is just browning.

Enjoy warm with cream… and a cup of coffee.

Adapted from Brown Eggs and Jam Jars Make Ahead Currant Scones

Sadie’s Fruitcake

I can’t tell you why fruitcake gets a bad rap. Maybe I haven’t eaten a bad one. I can tell you that I could eat this one every day. I’m really proud of it. A blogger friend of mine, Natascha of Natascha’s Palace, made a fruitcake challenge and I accepted. I’ve tweaked this cake to perfection, if I do say so myself. It’s a little sugar, spice and everything nice (with less emphasis on spice or heavy on the everything). This fruitcake is dense and moist and outright delicious. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.

As organic as possible:

3 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

1 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans

1 1/3 cup chopped dates, pitted

1/3 cup dried cherries

1/3 cup dried cranberries

1/3 cup raisins

1/3 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup sweetened shredded coconut

2 cups sugar

1 cup butter, softened (2 sticks)

4 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp almond extract

1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 325°. Grease and flour a 10 cup tube or angel food pan. (Do yourself a favor and do not choose a decorative bundt cake pan, trust me on this one.) Set aside.

Whisk the flour, baking powder and salt in a large a bowl. Gently toss the pecans and walnuts in the flour mixture. Next add the dates. I like to toss these carefully (a few at a time) in the flour nut mixture because they are the stickiest. Once the chopped dates are coated with the flour mixture, add the cherries, cranberries, regular and golden raisins, and coconut. Gently toss until all fruit is lightly coated with flour mixture.

In a separate bowl or in a stand mixer, cream butter. Add sugar and beat with the butter until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating until incorporated. Add vanilla, almond extract and lemon juice. Mix well.

Add the dry ingredients, a scoop full at a time to creamed butter mixture, until all is combined. (I like to mix this part by hand, to not over-mix.) The batter will be very thick (like the consistency of  a thick drop cookie). Spoon the batter in the prepared pan, and gently even out the top with the back of the spoon or spatula.

Bake the cake for 1 1/2  hours. Remove cake from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Using a knife, loosen the edges of the cake and place onto cooling rack to cool completely before serving.

 

Best Oatmeal Cookies Ever?

A life-long friend of mine knows I’m into food blogging. So when she came across a recipe that said it was “The Best Oatmeal Cookie Recipe We’ve Ever Tried,” she passed it along my way. How sweet is that? Thank you Monica! Of course, being a fan of oatmeal raisin cookies, I had to try it. The recipe came from the Wall Street Journal. I don’t know if I’ve ever made a recipe of theirs before. Apparently there is a newly opened restaurant in Manhattan, and rumor has it they have a good cookie!

The first thing I noticed that was different from what I’ve done before is that the instructions said to soak the raisins in hot water for 30 minutes. I wondered if that would make the raisins juicy and plump? I wasn’t disappointed- I do think it made a difference! They also mentioned using old fashioned or rolled oats, which I always do, and agree that they are best for oatmeal cookies. The recipe called for adding the egg and vanilla at the end, after adding the oats and raisins; that was another thing I had never done before. Lastly it was recommended to allow the batter to sit for 4 days, which I will admit I did not do, although it gave me a pass. Something I would not do is bake them again for 17 minutes. There was no leeway. The directions specifically said 17 minutes, and that was too long, at least for my pans and oven- unless my goal was awesome granola.

The result was delicious, almost candy like. They kind of had a shiny sweet exterior that I thought was different from my regular batches. The cookies were big and chewy (when cooked about 14-15 minutes). And I have to say my kids loved them. They baked round and flat and firm. To be completely honest I think they are perfect for ice cream sandwiches! And although I am not disappointed, my quest for the perfect oatmeal raisin cookie is still on. Of course I have been heavily persuaded by the organic “Aussie Bites” from Costco. I think they’re on to something! However, my dad disagrees whole-heartedly. This much I know is true: personal taste is subjective. Am I rambling?

As Seen in the Wall Street Journal:

Active Time: 10-15 minutes Total Time: 1 hour, plus 4 days for chilling dough Makes: 14 cookies

1 cup raisins
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons baking soda
1½ teaspoons fine sea salt
1½ sticks slightly softened butter
1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 cups old-fashioned or rolled oats
1 extra-large egg
1½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1. Soak raisins in hot water for 30 minutes, then drain.

2. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt.

3. Using an electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, scraping down frequently. Take care not to overbeat.

4. Add flour mixture to creamed butter and sugar and mix on low speed until combined. Mix in oats, followed by drained raisins, egg and vanilla.

5. Use a ¼-cup measure to scoop dough onto a parchment-paper lined baking sheet. Flatten each blob with base of measuring cup. Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate 4 days (optional).

6. To bake cookies: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake until cookies are golden-brown on the outside but still soft in the middle, about 17 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest on baking sheet a few minutes, then transfer to a rack to cool.

—Adapted from Melissa Weller of Sadelle’s, New York City

Thank you Monica! This was a lot of fun!