Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

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Life has been pretty hectic, lately. So hectic, that I had to schedule an hour this weekend to take some quiet comfort with a cup of tea and a scone.

During these rare moments of reflection I start to feel myself relax and even smile a little. You see, I have been spending one evening a week babysitting my grandchildren. Even though this adds to my already crazy life it has become one of the highlights of my week.

I have two wonderful grandchildren , Aiobheann (pronounced Even) who is 2, and Kieran who is 4. They are equally as cute and cuddly, as they are mischievous and challenging. What one thinks up, the other follows.

One of the evenings that I was babysitting I put the two of them in the bathtub for a bath. Kieran spent most of the time pretending to swim and playing with toys, while Aiobheann spent her time squirting foamy children’s soap and washing herself as well as a two-year old can. Just when we were almost done, Aiobheann asked if it was okay if she were to pee in the bathtub. I said that she had to use the potty and not pee in the tub. Then she looked down and then looked at me with big eyes and said “Uh Oh!”

I scrambled to pull them both out, as quickly as I could.

Another time, Aiobheann did not want to go to bed so Kieran tried to convince her to be a Big Boy and go to bed. That is what he understands about his bedtime and how he should behave. Well this just started a half hour debate between the two of them about why it did not apply to Aiobheann because she is not a Big Boy; she is a Little Girl. I know, at times like these, parents get frustrated because this is holding up the schedule, but as a grandmother I found it amusing.

Being a grandmother is a whole new adventure. I get to do it all over again without the day-to-day responsibilities and with the wisdom that I have developed through raising my own daughters. I am really enjoying it!

So here I am, at the end of a long work week, sipping my tea and savouring my scone and I am still smiling about my grand babies and their innocent view of life.

I am looking forward to my next visit.

raspberry-scone-with-book--5955Raspberry and White Chocolate Scones

Makes 12 scones

Ingredients:
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
2 tbsp. sugar
4 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled and chopped into small pieces
1 cup miniature white chocolate chips
1 cup frozen raspberries, chopped
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 egg, separated
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and sugar. Add the chopped cold butter and rub with your fingers into the flour until the bits of butter are roughly the size of peas. Stir in the chocolate chips.

Separate the egg; reserve the white for an egg wash before baking. In a separate bowl, whisk together the cream, egg yolk, and vanilla extract.

Add the frozen raspberries to the flour mixture. Pour in the cream, and stir lightly with a fork until just moistened.

Gather the dough into a ball with your hands and knead it lightly a few times, just to roll it together. Place the dough on a lightly floured work surface and divide into two balls. Gently roll out each ball into a 1-inch high disk, and cut each disk into 6 wedges.

Place wedges on the baking sheet and brush the tops with the reserved egg white. Sprinkle each with sugar.
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Bake for about 12-15 minutes or until the tops are golden brown and scones are cooked through.

The scones are best eaten the day they are baked, but will keep in an air tight container for 2 days. For the best results do not thaw the berries before using them.

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Baking up a Holiday Storm with Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies

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Can you believe that it s already the 7th of December? I have been madly rushing about trying to get started on my holiday shopping, decorating the house, and starting my holiday baking. Every year I try to make the holiday special for family and friends by cooking and baking up a storm. As my children grew older I tried to make our holiday celebration about being together for a great meal and sharing each others company.

I have decided to make some home-made gifts this year. It adds a more personal touch to everyone’s presents and creates special memories. Baked holiday cookies make a wonderful gift for the sweet lovers on the list.

I also decided to try some new recipes for my holiday cookies. This recipes makes some large chewy cookies that are filled with the rich flavours of white chocolate, coconut, cranberries and pecans. They taste like a mouthful of holiday magic!

Cranberry and White Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Makes 16-18 large cookies

Ingredients:
¾ cup (1880 g) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
½ cup (125 ml) granulated sugar
½ cup (125 ml) packed light brown sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 tbsp. (15 ml) light corn syrup
1 tsp. (5 ml) pure vanilla extract
1 ½ cups (375 ml) unbleached all-purpose flour
¼ cup (65 ml) cake flour
1 tsp. (5 ml) baking soda
½ tsp. (2.5 ml) salt
½ cup (125 ml) sweetened dried cranberries
½ cup (125 ml) rolled oats (not the quick cook kind)
½ cup (125 ml) pecans, coarsely chopped and lightly toasted
½ cup (125 ml) sweetened coconut flakes, lightly toasted
1 -3 ½ oz. (100 g) package white chocolate chips, coarsely chopped

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Directions:

Position 2 racks near the centre of the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the butter and both sugars at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape the bowl. Add the egg, corn syrup, and vanilla, beat for 1 minute on medium speed. Mix in half of the all-purpose flour on low speed until thoroughly combined, 1 minute. Mix in the remaining half of the all-purpose flour. Sprinkle the cake flour, baking soda and salt into the bowl and mix on low speed until blended, about 1 minute. With a rubber spatula, stir in the cranberries, oats, pecans, coconut and white chocolate.
Scoop up ¼ cup (65 ml) of dough and shape onto parchment paper into 2 inch disks that are ½ inch thick. Space the dough at least 2 inches apart.
Bake 15 – 18 minutes until the edges and bottoms are golden brown and centre feels dry on the surface but soft inside. When baking 2 pans of cookies at one time be sure to rotate the pans halfway through the baking time to ensure even browning.
Let cookies cool on baking sheets for at least 1 minute and then transfer to a wire rack to cool. These cookies can be kept for 3 or 4 days in an air tight container at room temperature or for several weeks in the freezer.

Recipe modified from The Best of Fine Cooking Cookies Holiday 2012

Biscotti with Cranberries, Pistachios and White Chocolate

 

 

I really love going out to my local coffee shop for a latte and biscotti. I love to treat myself to this simple pleasure when my day needs a little pick me up.  I wanted to try baking biscotti so I found a recipe on Epicurious.com for these Biscotti with Cranberries, Pistachios and White Chocolate. The crunch of the pistachios and the chewy cranberries add texture and flavour to these delightful cookies. The white chocolate dipped end creates a flavour sensation as you start your cookie that carries through to the last bite.

Even though I was really impressed with the results, I served them to my family to get their feedback and they were a huge success. Even my mother loved them!!!

I know these were labelled as holiday cookies but I would make them any time during the year. Usually, when I am baking for the holidays I tend to head straight to my recipes for traditional cookies like shortbread and sugar cookies but this year is the time to break with tradition. I think it is important to try new things so we can grow as people. 2012 will be my year to challenge myself by learning to cook new and interesting dishes. I look forward to sharing them with you.

Biscotti with Cranberries, Pistachios and White Chocolate

Yield: Makes about 3 1/2 dozen

2¼ cups all purpose flour

1 ½ teaspoons baking powder

¾ teaspoon salt

6 tbsp. (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature

¾ cup sugar

2 large eggs

1 tablespoon grated lemon peel

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon whole aniseed

1 cup dried sweetened cranberries

¾ cup shelled natural unsalted pistachios

6 ounces imported white chocolate, chopped (or one 275g bag of white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit. Line 3 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sift flour, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Using an electric mixer, beat butter and sugar in a large bowl until well blended. Beat in eggs one at a time. Mix in lemon peel, vanilla, and aniseed. Beat in the flour mixture just until blended. Stir in cranberries and pistachios (dough will be sticky). Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Gather dough together; divide in half. Roll each half with hands into a 15 inch-long log (about 1 ½ inches wide). Carefully transfer logs to a prepared baking sheet, spacing 3 inches apart.

Bake logs until almost firm to touch but sill pale, about 28 minutes. Cool logs on baking sheet 100 minutes. Maintain oven temperature.

Carefully lift parchment paper and transfer paper and logs to a cutting board. Using a sharp, serrated knife gently saw the logs crosswise on a slight diagonal to ½ inch thick slices. Place slices, 1 cut side down, on remaining 2 baking sheets. Bake until firm and pale golden, about 9 minutes per side. Transfer cookies to racks and cool.

Line another baking sheet with waxed paper. Stir white chocolate in top of double boiler over barely simmering water just until smooth. Remove top from over water. Carefully dip end of each cookie into the melted chocolate, shake off excess chocolate. Place cookies on prepared sheet. Chill until chocolate is firm, about 30 minutes.

Cookies can be prepared 5 days ahead and stored in an airtight container at room temperature. Be sure to separate layers with sheets of waxed paper.

Recipe from Epicurious.com