Friday, May 31, 2013

Fresh Strawberry and Toasted Almond Scones

This weekend was Strawberry Festival in downtown Vista, a suburb of San Diego County.  A little known fact about Vista is that it was once considered the "Strawberry Capitol of the World" and still has quite a few strawberry fields. While Vista is no longer as well known for its' strawberries, Strawberry Festival was a great time to get out and celebrate one of Summer's best fruits.
I decided to celebrate Strawberry Festival by making these delicious Strawberry and Toasted Almond Scones. This is definitely one of my new favorite scone recipes. Normally I like to shape scones into neat little triangles, but these scones have a more rustic, homemade look which I think makes them even better (and easier to make!).
Wherever you live, I hope you'll take advantage of strawberry season this summer and give this recipe a try.

Fresh Strawberry & Toasted Almond Scones
Makes 8 large Scones
Scone Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup cold butter, cubed
3/4 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries (place the sliced strawberries on paper towels to soak up some of the moisture while you prepare the dough)
* Cream and course sugar for topping
Glaze Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon almond extract
2-3 tablespoons milk or cream
1/4 cup sliced almonds, toasted (for garnish)
** do not skip toasting the almonds, it enhances the flavor of the almonds
Preheat oven to 400f
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silpat mat.

Pour the cream into a measuring cup, add the almond extract and stir to combine.
Place the flour, baking powder, sugar, baking soda and salt in a large bowl and whisk to combine.
Add the cold cubed butter and cut in with a pastry cutter or 2 butter knives until mixture resembles course crumbs.
Create a well in the center of the mixture and pour in the cream/extract mixture. Using a rubber spatula, fold just until the dough is moistened.

Gently fold in the sliced strawberries.
Using a large cookie scoop, place 8 heaping scoops of dough evenly spaced apart onto the prepared baking sheet.

Brush lightly with cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
Bake until lightly golden brown, approximately 15 - 20 minutes depending upon your oven.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 15 minutes.
Make the glaze:
Place the powdered sugar, almond extract and cream in a medium size bowl. Whisk to combine. Adjust to desired consistency.
Drizzle glaze on scones and top with a sprinkle of toasted almonds. Press the almonds very lightly into the glaze to help them adhere to the glaze.

** Tips for successful scones:
1. Use cold butter and cream.
2. Don't over mix or over handle the dough.
3. Scones are best served the day they are made (preferably within a few hours of baking) and generally do not store well especially if they are made with fresh fruit. Scones made without fruit or with dried fruit, store better.
4. If you need to bake your scones ahead of time (a few hours before serving them), do not glaze them until just before they are served. The glaze can make the scones soggy if they sit for too long.


Friday, May 24, 2013

Mini Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache

We have several great brownie recipes posted on the these Pecan Pie Brownies, Dulce de Leche Brownies, Chocolate Strawberry Brownies, The Most Amazing Brownies and Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies. This is definitely one to add to the list!
 It was inspired by a container of Trader Joe's Mini Peanut Butter Cups that had been sitting in my pantry for weeks calling my name. I normally use them to bake my family's favorite Peanut Butter Cup Cookies, but this time I wanted to try something different. Why not throw them into brownie batter? But this is no ordinary brownie batter, it's made with one of my favorite ingredients, brown butter. If you have never baked with brown butter, I recommend you give it a try.
Mini Peanut Butter Cup Brownies with Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Ganache
Makes One 8x8 pan of brownies or 12-16 servings
Brownie Ingredients:
10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cupsnatural unsweetened cocoa powder
2 tsp water
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs, room temperature
1/3 cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
3/4 cup Trader Joe's Mini Peanut Butter Cups
Ganache Ingredients:
2/3 cup heavy whipping cream
2 cups Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Chips
2 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
Preheat oven to 350f
Line an 8x8 baking pan with heavy duty foil and spray with nonstick cooking spray (or use nonstick foil).
Place the sugar, cocoa powder, vanilla, water and salt in a large bowl or in the bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix a few seconds to combine.
Place butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Heat, swirling the pan occassionally, until the butter stops foaming and brown particles form at the bottom of the pan. Be sure to swirl the pan occassionally and keep a close eye on it to prevent burning.
Once the butter is done browning, pour it into the bowl with the sugar/cocoa mixture being sure to pour in all of the brown bits from the pan. This is flavor!
Mix at medium speed to combine (about one minute).
Beat in egg, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Add the flour and mix just until combined.
Fold in the peanut butter cups.
Spread the batter in the pan. Bake for about 15-20 minutes of until batter feels firm when pressed in the center. Do not overbake.
Remove from oven and allow to cool for 20 minutes. Place pan in the freezer for another 20 minutes to firm up.
Make the ganache -  put the chocolate chips in a medium size bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the cream and peanut butter until the cream barely comes to a simmer. Pour the cream mixture over the chocolate chips and allow to stand for 3 minutes. Combine ingredients with a whisk until chocolate is melted and mixture is thick and glossy.
Pour the ganache over the brownies and spread into an even layer.
Place the pan in the freezer for about an hour. Remove the pan from the freezer, and remove from the foil liner. Cut into serving size squares.
Store in the refrigerator and remove approx 10 minutes before serving.
These are rich brownies and are best served slightly cold.
Adapted from: Heather Christo Cooks

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze

LiveBakeLove has been M.I.A recently, but we're finally back with a new post! We've been feeling guilty about neglecting the blog, but we've had good reason. Just to catch you up on what we've been up to recently....

I spent 8 whirlwind days in China on a work trip, right in the middle of the bird flu outbreak, an earthquake and some of the worst pollution Shanghai has seen, but I did manage to sneak in some time to go to the Forbidden City....

Shop at the Ladies Market in Hong Kong....

We participated in one of my favorite events, the San Diego Food Blogger's Bake Sale which raises money for the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry campaign to end childhood hunger in America.....

We catered a Cinco de Mayo Party for 70 people!!!

** Sorry, no photos available **
Spent Mother's Day with my beautiful, amazing Mom..........

And now Yvonne is on a business trip to China and India.....

So needless to say, life has been a little crazy for us lately...

Now that things have settled down (for the moment), I have more time to devote to my favorite past time - baking!  This past Friday morning was a cloudy one here in San Diego, so I was in the mood for a comforting morning treat, something that went well with a nice, hot cup of coffee so naturally I thought of Coffee Cake! Coffee Cake often gets a bad rap for being dry, this Coffee Cake is far from that, it's moist with a tender crumb and a has a delicious cinnamon-walnut streusel running throughout. The Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze puts it over the top.

I hope you give this recipe a try whenever you want a delicious morning sweet treat.

Sour Cream Cinnamon Streusel Coffee Cake with Maple Vanilla Bean Glaze

Cake Ingredients:
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter , softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups sour cream

Streusel Ingredients:
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 cup chopped, toasted walnuts
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon

Glaze Ingredients:
1 cup powdered sugar
2 tablespoons real maple syrup
1 tsp milk, half & half or cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste


Generously spray a bundt pan with nonstick cooking spray and lightly dust with flour.

Preheat oven to 350f

Mix the flour, baking soda and salt together in a small bowl and set aside.

Mix the streusel ingredients together in another small bowl and set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or in a large bowl using your electric hand mixer), cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy (approx 2 minutes).

Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down the bowl with a rubber spatula.

Mix in the vanilla extract just until mixed in.

Mix in the dry ingredients alternating with the sour cream (begin and end with the dry ingredients) mixing just until combined. Do not overmix. You will wind up with a thick batter.

Dollop 1/3 of the batter into the bottom of the prepared bundt pan and spread batter.

Top batter with half of the streusel mixture.

Dollop another 1/3 of the batter on top of the streusel mixture and carefully spread the batter as much as possible.

Top batter with the remaining streusel mixture.

Dollop the remaining batter on top and carefully spread as much as possible.

Place the bundt pan on a rimmed baking sheet, place in the oven and bake at 350 for approx 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middles comes out clear. Do not overbake.

Place the pan on a cooling rack and cool for approx 15 minutes.

Carefully run a sharp knife around the edges and invert the cake onto a platter.

Allow to cool until just barely warm then drizzle with the glaze.

To Make the Glaze:

Place the ingredients in a medium size bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust to desired consistency - if too thin, add more powdered sugar. If too thick add a little more milk/cream a little at a time stirring after each addition until desired consistency is reached. You want to glaze to be on the thick side. If it's too thin it will run off the of cake.

Store cake tightly covered at room temperature for us to 3 days.