INSPIRED BY MONSIEUR MCFRUGAL LEBOVITZ, I MADE SCONES!

“So often something like a cinnamon roll or a sticky bun is overpowering and very sweet. The subtle flavors of the scone tend to be something that our customers are really looking for.”
Jamie Golladay

I’m awfully sorry Mr Lebovitz, but the name Monsieur McFrugal still pops up in my mind each time I see your tweets, or read your posts. David Lebovitzs’ books are on my wishlist, and I was thrilled to find a recipe from another favourite author, Alice Medrich, on his blog. The White Chocolate & Sour Cherry Scones were inspired by an Alice Medrich recipe, an author I have come to love because of her innovative approach to drawing flavour & texture out of food beautifully. I find her recipes refreshing and inspirational, as I do Davids’, though sadly I don’t own either of their books. My first exposure to Alice Medrich was when I baked this Orange & Olive Oil Cake from Cafe Fernando quite a while ago.Back to the Lebovitz post. 3 things stuck in my mind about the it when I read it. The first was a handful (not very pretty at all) of milk solids. The second, David referring to himself as being Monsieur McFrugal while using a bottle of low-fat organic milk which added to his morning café au lait, curdled into a zillion tiny little bits. Ugh! The 3rd was, of course, him using that milk to make delicious looking scones. (I really enjoyed reading his post here). I made these scones on a day I was clearing the fridge. I had plenty of bits & bobs of leftover everything that occupy shelf space in this horrid heat. David posted these deliciously moreish & rustic scones way back in May 2009, and I’ve had them on my mind since.
Being pretty much frugal myself, I tend to use pantry items & clear shelves before I set off to buy more stuff. Baking is a passion for me, & I like to make the most of what I have on hand. This morning was no different. Being king on my castle, I had buttermilk on hand and the picture of scones in my mind. If he could make them with ‘claberred’ organic milk, the buttermilk would surely work too!
I substituted things as usual, with his basic recipe as my benchmark. My Ghirardeli dark chocolate chips had reached the bottom of the bag, so they weren’t enough for cookies. They needed a befitting destination, & these scones made for the likely answer. In went some dried craisins, & to make the scones merrier,some chopped walnuts too! Of course, the minute I popped the scones into the oven, I suffered a cringe of regret. Maybe I should have put in candied ginger (made from a Lebovitz recipe) instead of the walnuts. They might have tasted good in there too. However, the result with dark chocolate, craisins & walnuts was outstanding! The buttermilk worked well in there, and the scones were light & just right.
I had a field day substituting. Out of sour dried cherries, I tossed some chopped dried craisins with citric salt that I have from Ukraine. It added just the right sourness to the craisins, but if anyone has ideas of how better to use citric salt, I would be more than thankful to hear from you. I have quite a few sachets of those! I used rolled oats instead of buckwheat, which I was out of. I also did an egg white wash on top instead of an egg yolk one, & sprinkled the top generously with vanilla sugar. The sugar added a wickedly delicious taste to the scones. I have to add that they tasted best warm out of the oven. No need for clotted cream here, but that again would add luxury to these rustic bites! I might use candied ginger & white chocolate chunks next time, because next time will be here soon!
DARK CHOCOLATE, DRIED CRAISIN & WALNUT SCONES
adapted from David Lebovitz’s post here
adapted by him from Pure Dessert (Artisan) by Alice Medrich
See the Notes at the end of the recipe for tips on handling the dough.
Ingredients:
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 1/3 cup flour
1/3 cup rolled oats (the recipe has buckwheat, which I didn’t have)
1/3 cup cornmeal, preferably stone-ground
1/3 cup vanilla sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup / 100gms unsalted butter, frozen
1 cup dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup coarsely-chopped dried craisins (I tossed mine in citric salt)
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1 egg yolk mixed with 1 teaspoon milk
Vanilla sugar (or granulated) sugar for dredging the scones

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 400F (200C) and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper.
  • In a small bowl, stir together the egg with the buttermilk.
  • In the food processor, briefly pulse the flour, oats, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Grate in frozen butter directly into the bowl & briefly pulse again till a breadcrumb like texture is achieved. Stir in the chocolate chips, craisins & walnuts.
  • Add the wet ingredients, stirring with a spatula, until the dough is moistened.
  • On a lightly-floured surface, pat the dough into an 8-inch (20 cm) round. If it’s too wet and is very sticky, knead in a spoonful or two of flour on the countertop. (I patted it directly on the cookie sheet). In David’s words, The originally recipe called for 3/4 cup (180 ml) milk and cream, and my dough was very sticky, which may be the original intent, but I found it hard to work with. Slightly less than 1/2 cup, (115 ml) seemed right. Good thing making scones isn’t rocket science!
  • Use a pastry scraper to divide the dough into twelve wedges. Brush the tops of each wedge with the beaten egg white & generously sprinkle with vanilla sugar.
  • Bake the scones for 25 minutes, or until the tops are golden brown. Re cut the slices immediately with a pastry cutter if need be. (I needed to do it).
  • Makes 12

Notes from David Lebovitz: There’s two theories about making biscuits and scones; one says the batter should be firm enough the cut, the other says it should be wet and spoonable. If your dough is very soft, or you don’t want to get the counter dirty, you can certainly spoon it onto the prepared baking sheet in 8 mounds.
For firm, neater-looking scones, the dough should be not too sticky and you can knead a bit more flour into the dough. I’m happy to sacrifice picture-perfect scones for ones that are light and tender. If you’re looking for a sturdier scone, you might want to check out my Chocolate Cherry Scone recipe in my book, The Great Book of Chocolate.
Since the scone dough is on the soft side, this is the time to get out your metal pastry scraper. If you don’t have one, a metal spatula will make lifting the dough, and the cut scones, a little easier.

♥ Thank you for stopping by ♥

MIXED BERRY & NUT CLUSTERS….Cookies, Cake & CLICK

“If life is a bowl of cherries, then what am I doing in the pits?”
Erma Bombeck
Mixed Berry & Nut Clusters

Aaaaaaaargh…it’s just another of those days when time begins to run out on you even before morning has nicely broken!! Day before was a busyish day. I made cookies out of dried berries & I made chocolate chocolate-chip muffins from Nigella’s recipe @ Food network…asking for trouble to tell you the truth!

The muffins were not nice at all, so not worthy of being posted. Had my dear friend’s kids over from Ukraine, so then made chocolate morsel cookies too. The kids are complete chocolate addicts & will not touch anything even remotely ‘berry’! Manggy, your brother’s got company!!
To make matters worse…no cake in the fridge for early morning indulgence. Donno what I’m talking about? Check out this at Cakespy…to all ya folk who feel guilty at sneaking a slice of cake out for breakfast, cupcakes, muffins included..we’ve got proof. IT’S OK!! Jessie says so & Bill Cosby always said so!! Since the muffins were a disaster, I quickly made a Zebra cake.

Coffee with the Zebra
As always, this is one fascinating looking cake (recipe HERE), & a cuppa coffee makes it even better. Which gave rise to thoughts in the direction of CLICK July ’08 Coffee / Tea @ Jugalbandi

‘Bean Thinking Coffee’… my entry for CLICK : July 08 Coffee/Tea

Back to the cookies in question. I’ve had some dried berries lying around for a while. Actually bits & bobs of all sorts, so I decided to clear them one fine day…came up with quite a treasure.
Some craisins, some dried blueberries,currants, raisins etc. Better use ‘em up before it’s too late…books opened & a recipe found. ‘Mixed Berry & Nut Clusters’ turned out to be yummy, healthy cookies, best devoured the day they are made or the next. I think they taste best fresh, warm out of the oven with a glass of chilled milk. The kids had 4 each just after I made them. Home made cookies always taste better; it’s been eons since I bought cookies from the store. These cookies had oats too…
Mixed Berry & Nut Clusters…
Adapted from ‘Cranberry & Orange Clusters’, ‘The Colossal Cookie Cookbook’, pg 277
Ingredients:
Butter – 1/2 cup
Sugar – 1/2 cup
Grated rind of 1 orange
Egg – 1
Vanilla Extract – 1 tsp
Rolled oats – 1 1/4 cups
Dried cranberries, currants, nuts etc – 3/4 cup
Flour – 1 1/4 cup
Baking powder -1/2 tsp
Pinch of salt

Method:

  • Preheat oven to 180 degrees C. Lightly grease 2 baking sheets.
  • Beat butter + sugar + orange rind till fluffy.
  • Add egg & beat again.
  • Stir in the oats & berries, nuts etc.
  • Sift the flour + baking powder + salt into the bowl & mix until evenly combined.
  • Put spoonfuls of the mixtures on the sheets, leaving space for spreading in between. Flatten slightly with a fork. Sprinkle with a little vanilla sugar or coloured sprinkles.
  • Bake for approx 15 minutes until risen & golden brown.
  • Cool on rack. They will be soft when you take them out of the oven, but will become firm as they cool.
  • Dressed up a few with sprinkles I had on hand…just to give the kids happy smiles!

Colour always works up magic!!

IS IT A BAR, IS IT A COOKIE? Guess what…It’s a BAR COOKIE!

“In the nut, nothing is lost, except perhaps the noise it makes when breaking.”
World Wide Walnut
Pistachio, Cranberries & Golden Raisin Bars

Was flipping pages of one of my favourite cookie books, ‘The Colossal Cookie Cookbook’, wondering what snack to make for the kids snack box for school. Thought I’d quickly do a batch of brownies, got the tin ready, lined it etc, & then had a change of heart. Wanted something other than chocolate…I like introducing them to as many flavours as possible, when they are still willing. Found something I liked the sound of… ‘Cranberry & Golden Raisin Bars’ hmmmmmmm. Passed a handful of golden raisins to the boy, who gave them a disdainful look, but tried one…& decided they weren’t that bad after all. Then the pistachios were chomped happily & the craisins too, which were a big hit! (The craisins were Ocean Spray’s ‘Orange Flavor Sweetened Dried Cranberries’ that I had lying around for a while. They are seriously good & healthy as a snack too.)

Having passed the litmus test, I set to work…

Bar Cookies are cookies that the dough is baked spread-out in a pan. The cookies are cut into “bars” after baking. Most drop cookies can also be made into bar cookies. Bar cookie dough is pretty stiff/firm like a cookie dough. They are usually simple & straight-forward cookies, that are fun to make!

Bar cookies consist of batter or other ingredients that are poured or pressed into a pan (sometimes in multiple layers), and cut into cookie-sized pieces after baking. Brownies are an example of a batter-type bar cookie. In British English, bar cookies are known as “tray bakes’.

The recipe as adapted from ‘The Colossal Cookie Cookbook’ , pg 393.

Ingredients:
Butter – 100gms (or margarine)
Brown sugar – 1/2 cup packed (soft brown)
Eggs – 2
Vanilla Essence – 1tsp
Flour – 1 cup ( the original recipe has 1 cup of self-raising flour)
Baking powder – 3/4 tsp
Salt – 1 pinch
Ground Almonds – 1/4 cup
Craisins – 1/2 cup
Pistachio nuts – 1/2 cup / chopped roughly
Golden raisins – 1/2 cup

Method:

  • Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C. Line a 10.5″ X 6.5″ or 8″ X 8″ pan with a 2″ depth. Leave a bit of overhang on the lining paper.
  • Sift the flour + baking powder + salt. Set aside.
  • Beat the butter & sugar till light & fluffy.
  • Beat in the eggs one by one, followed by the vanilla essence.
  • Now gently fold in the flour + ground almonds + craisins + golden raisins + pistachio nuts.
  • Turn batter into tin & level out evenly with a spatula/butter knife.
  • Bake for 25-35 minutes until golden brown on top & done. Test with a wooden pick if need be.
  • Take out of oven & cool on rack for 10 minutes, then gently lift out of tin (holding the lining paper) & cool completely. Remove lining paper once cool.
  • Cut into bars or squares as desired, only once cooled. Dust with powdered sugar.
  • Best stored in the refrigerator, as per the book. (I’ve left them out as the weather is till cold & the houses here aren’t centrally heated.)
Enjoy a cookie with a cuppa tea or coffee…or a glass of chilled milk!
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