Cranberry and White chocolate Scones

Step over strawberry, there's a new scone in town! How does white chocolate with cranberries sound? Not really the healthy fruity breakfast scone but these are really good!

I tried the recipe from Cooks Illustrated for this scone and I have to say I prefer it to my strawberry scones. Now this could be operator error. I have not made scones before. The strawberries were super juicy and I did not compensate by adding enough flour ( I didn't know!) so they did not get properly kneaded. Only after making this new recipe did I realize my mistakes and lack of scone education. In comparison the ingredients are similar... but my end results were night and day. The CI recipe resulted in really light and delicate scones.  To be fair I should redo the first scone recipe just to be sure but for now I am really enjoying these White Chocolate and Cranberry scones! 

Recipe adapted from smitten kitchen by way of Cooks Illustrated 

Dreamy Cream Scones
America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook

2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, preferably a low-protein brand such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury
1 tablespoon baking powder
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
1/2 cup currants (I used 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1/2 cup white chocolate all chopped into smaller bits might use more cranberries next time)
1 cup heavy cream

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425°F.

2. Place flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in large bowl or work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Whisk together or pulse six times.

3. If making by hand, use two knives, a pastry blender or your fingertips and quickly cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few slightly larger butter lumps. Stir in currants. If using food processor, remove cover and distribute butter evenly over dry ingredients. Cover and pulse 12 times, each pulse lasting 1 second. Add currants and pulse one more time. Transfer dough to large bowl.

4. Stir in heavy cream with a rubber spatula or fork until dough begins to form, about 30 seconds.

5. Transfer dough and all dry, floury bits to counter top and knead dough by hand just until it comes together into a rough, sticky ball, 5 to 10 seconds. Form scones by either a) pressing the dough into an 8-inch cake pan, then turning the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface, cutting the dough into 8 wedges with either a knife or bench scraper

6. Place rounds or wedges on ungreased baking sheet (I used parchment paper) and bake until scone tops are light brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on wire rack for at least 10 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Pina Colada Cake with the Cake Slice Baker

The June selection for the Cake Slice is the Pina Colada Cake. It is a brown sugar cake (YUM) with a pineapple filling made by simmering a can of crushed pineapple a vanilla bean and sugar(Double YUM), some rum( more YUM) and a coconut butter cream.

I was really reluctant to make this cake in regular 8" sky high style so I went with petite fours.

Wow are they cute! A little time consuming but the individual servings are great to bring to work to give away. I made the coconut butter cream frosting the recipe calls for but, after trying to frost a couple of my minis I decided a Ganache was the way to go. I made the white chocolate Ganache from sky high with coconut extract instead of vanilla... and I loved it! It' even better than the butter cream. Dipping into the Ganache was so much easier than frosting each individual cake.

I used a combination of dark rum and coconut rum because I could not decide which one I liked better. The flavor of this cake is just perfect for summer... so light and fragrant. Some day I will make this cake in full sky high style full size!

I had so much fun setting up the photos for these little cakes. I even got a super tiny slice! No worries about having more than one slice with these little cakes... um, er ... except I probably ate ate least 4 of them...

For more great photos and stories of this months selected cake visit the Cake Slice Bakers blog roll!

White Chocolate Coconut Ganache Adapted from Sky High:Irresistible Triple Layer Cakes by Alsia Huntsman and Peter Wynne

8 ounces of white chocolate chopped
2 and 1/2 cups of heavy cream
1 teaspoon coconut extract or more is you like it a bit stronger

Put the white chocolate in a medium heat proof bowl. In a small sauce bring 1/2 cup of the cream to a boil. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let stand for 1-minute, then whisk until smooth. Let the white chocolate cream stand until cooled to room temperature.

In a chilled bowl with chilled beaters beat the remaining 2 cups of heavy cream and vanilla until softly whipped. Stir in the white chocolate cream and beat until fairly stiff. taking care not over beat, which would cause the ganache to separate.

Strawberry Scones

I have been waiting patiently for the harvest of local strawberries. And NOW they are HERE!!! Hurray! For the next 2-3 weeks the local strawberries will be pouring in! That means I can FINALLY try this scone recipe I spotted on LuLu the Baker's blog months and months ago. I was drooling and planning the second I saw her beautiful scone photos!

I have not made scones before so I did not realize you have to add more flour if your berries are really juicy. I had a very sticky mess of dough to deal with. I think the scones came our really good but I think I may need to try it again to adjust the flour to moisture ratio.. a real bummer I know... gosh MORE scones to bake! What will I do with all my trials and mistakes?

But friends why stop at scones? I mean strawberries are so versatile and all the cool kids are baking with them right now... why stop at strawberries for that matter... blueberry scones sound delicious!

Peanut Butter and Chocolate Cake

AKA sour cream-chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and chocolate-peanut butter glaze, whew! This cake comes from the fabulous cook book Sky High Cakes. I cant recommend this book enough! I have yet to try a cake out of this book that has let me down. The flavor combinations are innovative. If you love making celebration cakes get your self a copy!

I love the PB and chocolate combo. Forget about expensive Belgian chocolate truffles hand me a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup and I am one happy blissed out girl. I did a little google-ing to give kudos to whoever came up with this flavor combo. It seems peanut butter first hit the scene in 1890. It is credited to a Dr. John Kellogg ( yep the cereal Kellog!) as a nutritious food for patients with no teeth. So even when I lose all my teeth from eating too many sweets I will still have peanut butter to comfort me! By 1904 Peanut butter "hit the limelight" as a health food. Then along came the 1920's and the first commercially available peanut butter was produced and marketed. It was called Skippy!

As far as I can tell 1922 is the inception of the Reese's penny cup which later became the beloved Reese's peanut butter cup. So is H.B. Reese the genius who first combined chocolate and peanut butter? Whoever it was, I thank YOU!

And now the Cake!

Make this! you will not be sorry! I made this cake for a birthday party... three 8" inch layers... and it was devoured! Not a single piece left for breakfast :( I warn you it is super rich but oh sooo yummy!


Sour Cream-Chocolate Cake with Peanut Butter Frosting and Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Sky High: Irresistible Triple-Layer Cakes

Makes an 8-inch triple-layer cake
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter the bottoms and sides of three 8-inch round cake pans. Line the bottom of each pan with a round of parchment or waxed paper and butter the paper.

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the 3 prepared cake pans.

3. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 20 minutes. Invert onto wire racks, carefully peel off the paper liners, and let cool completely. Freeze them if you have time!

4. To frost the cake, place one layer, flat side up, on a cake stand or large serving plate. Spread 2/3 cup cup of the Peanut Butter Frosting evenly over the top. Repeat with the next layer. Place the last layer on top and frost the top and sides of the cake with the remaining frosting.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, put the cake plate on a large baking sheet to catch any drips. Simply pour the glaze over the top of the cake, and using an offset spatula, spread it evenly over the top just to the edges so that it runs down the sides of the cake in long drips. Refrigerate, uncovered, for at least 30 minutes to allow the glaze and frosting to set completely. Remove about 1 hour before serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil won't separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 1 1/2 cups

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

Tip: The cake is really moist and delicate. One of the layers cracked and started to fall apart as I built and filled the cake. Next time I would freeze the layers before assembling.