Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Scrumptious Scones

Now, don't get me wrong, I love baking desserts and cupcakes, but often the baked goods that I appreciate the most are my breakfast pastries.  It is always wonderful to start the day with a delicious, home-baked scone or muffin.

In the past couple weeks I have made a couple different kinds of scones and muffins.  First, I made dried cherry and lemon scones, using the delicious dried cherries from Cherry Republic in Charlevoix.  The recipe is exactly the same as my blueberry scone recipe, except I used chopped dried cherries instead of dried blueberries.

Those were soon gone, so today I decided on a batch of cinnamon scones.  Again, I used the same recipe mentioned before, but to make them stand out as cinnamon scones I used brown sugar (instead of regular white sugar), 4 tsp of ground cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg.

They definitely have a good, strong cinnamon flavor to them, and will make a perfect breakfast for the next few days!

Happy Baking!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Blueberry Iced Green Tea

Here it is, yet another blueberry recipe.  I have made pies, scones, muffins, and just about every other type of blueberry pastry, it seems, this summer.  I guess that's what happens when you buy bulk blueberries from Costco.  Well regardless, blueberries are one of those staple summer foods, and since it's nearing the end of summer I might as well squeeze in a few more blueberry recipes.

So I decided to try out this recipe from Closet Cooking.  My mom suggested that I make iced tea today, so this just seemed like the perfect option.  It is quite delicious, and I have some leftover blueberry simple syrup which will be wonderful in mocktails!


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Sweet Snacks

Sometimes, well most of the time actually, I crave a bit of chocolate in the afternoon.  I'm just looking for a little bite to satisfy my sweet tooth.  These homemade peanut butter cups definitely do the trick.

I used semisweet chocolate to give the cups a richer taste than the average peanut butter cup, although I would love to try these again with dark chocolate.  These are a delicious little treat or snack and are super easy and quick to make!

Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Makes 8

1/2 cup chocolate chips
heavy cream
1/3 cup peanut butter
1 1/2 tbs powdered sugar
2 tsp flour

Microwave half of the chocolate chips with a tablespoons of heavy cream for a minute.  Remove from microwave and stir until the chocolate has completely melted.  If the chocolate is too thick, add a bit more heavy cream.  (You want it just thin enough to pour.)  Line a mini muffin pan with eight papers, and pour a thin layer of chocolate into each.  Cover and place in the freezer to set for a few minutes.

Combine peanut butter, powdered sugar, and flour in a bowl, and mix until smooth.  Set aside.  Melt the remaining chocolate chips using the same method as before.  Set aside.  Remove the pan from the freezer and place a spoonful of peanut butter mixture in each cup.  Pour chocolate over each one until the peanut butter is covered.  Place pan in the freezer for an hour to let the chocolate harden.  Store in freezer or refrigerator.

Bon Appétit,

Tuesday, August 16, 2011


Sometimes I like to have a tea party instead of lunch.  I cut cucumber sandwiches in the shapes of flowers, pick some fresh fruit (out of the refrigerator, that is), and of course brew a cup of tea.

Sometimes I pretend I am Alice- Alice in Wonderland of course.  And nothing is quite as much the spirit Alice as a wonderful cup of tea.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Birthday Cupcakes

It has been awhile since I have baked cupcakes, but since all of my raspberries from Michigan and their complimentary baked goodies are all gone I decided it was time to bring out the cupcakes again.  I have been eying this recipe from How Sweet It Is, one of my favorite food blogs, and decided that there was no way I couldn't make this recipe.  It has sprinkles in it, come on.

It was a super easy and straightforward recipe.  Basically you just make a simple vanilla cake and add sprinkles.  Same deal for the frosting, simple vanilla frosting, add sprinkles.  The end.

But they are so adorable to look at, and delicious to eat of course.  Vanilla is one of those flavors that I really love, but don't end up making really at all because it just seems so plain.  Not when you add sprinkles.

It also happens to be one of my great friends' birthday (a friend who is one of my fellow Cupcake Suite residents), and tomorrow is another one of my dearest friends' birthday!  These can certainly double as birthday cupcakes; they definitely remind me of the kind of cupcake you would bring to school for your class on your birthday back in lower school.  Except these taste nothing like those pre-packaged grocery store cupcakes.  They are more delicious and even more adorable.

Enjoy, and Happy Birthday Tim and Erica!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Tea Party for One

Occasionally I will feel exceptionally British and decide to have afternoon tea.  Today was one of those days.  A spot of tea was wonderfully warming and relaxing on a rainy afternoon.  

On a completely different note, I spent at least two hours cleaning my room today.  And by cleaning I mean actually cleaning and organizing, not just shoving stuff in the closet like I have been doing for the past month or two.  It is quite refreshing to see so much free space around me.  I also had the chance to arrange my newest vintage dishes for jewelry and other accessories.

Have a beautiful weekend!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Raspberry Pudding Cakes

My week in glorious Charlevoix, Michigan ended last Saturday with a long drive home.  We packed up the car with our clothes, books, and (as it luckily happened) some leftover goodies.  The day before we left we stocked up on some extra fudge and taffy and went berry picking a second time.  Luckily the berries survived the long trip home, and I was able to bake with them!

I chose this gorgeous-looking raspberry pudding cake that I came across while searching for recipes on foodgawker.  I had originally planned on making it in my first batch of raspberry treats in Michigan, but my mother suggested that we wait until I was home where we could make individual servings in our smaller dishes.  I agreed, and thus the mini raspberry pudding cake was born.

It was a really interesting dish to make.  I have never made a pudding cake before, so I was unsure of what to expect in the intermediate steps.  Isabelle's directions were spot-on though; she reassured you at each step that the batter should look this way or that, even if it wasn't what you were used to with a cake.

I was so excited to try these when they came out of the oven that I could barely wait the suggested 15 minutes before plunging in.  When I did, I was rewarded with a moist cake that gave way to a layer of oozing pudding underneath.  It was quite spectacular, although I probably should have waited a bit longer as the pudding was still a bit too hot!

Bon Appétit!

Friday, August 5, 2011

The Most Wonderful Pie

Raspberry pie is the most wonderful kind of pie, in my opinion at least.  It is a perfect balance between sweet and sour with an irresistibly flaky crust.  Still not convinced?  Just wait until you smell the black raspberries bubbling in the oven.

Since I had just about two cups of black raspberries left, I decided to make a mini pie.  In fact, I prefer the mini pies to the larger ones.  They are easier to make and are the perfect size for four.  Plus, it's best when the pie is eaten up the same day it is made.

So here is the recipe for the pie crust followed by the pie recipe.  The crust recipe is enough for the top and bottom of one mini pie, so if you are making a full pie with a top and bottom crust you will need to double the recipe.  Similarly, if you are making a full pie, double the filling recipe.


Pâte Brisée
From Gourmet

1 1/4 cups flour
6 tablespoons cold butter, cut into bits
2 tablespoons shortening
1/4 teaspoon salt

Combine ingredients together until they form a coarse meal.  Add 2-4 tablespoons of water, a bit at a time, until the dough sticks together enough to form it into two equally sized pieces.  Individually wrap the dough pieces and refrigerate while making the filling.

Berry Pie Filling
makes 1 mini pie

2 heaping cups berries
1 tsp lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
1 heaping tablespoon corn starch

several bits of butter for dotting the top

Sprinkle berries with lemon juice and mix in a bowl.  Add the sugar and the corn starch and mix completely.  Let sit for several minutes (or while you are rolling out the dough).

When you are rolling out the dough, make sure to dust it with enough flour so that it doesn't stick.  If it becomes to sticky you can put it back in the fridge for a few minutes to let the butter harden up a bit.

When cutting out the strips for the top, I find that it is much easier to use a pizza cutter or similar style tool rather than a knife.  I was using my grandma's cutter here that had an adorable ridge design.

When my mom made pies for me, she always made a point of properly weaving the top crust into a basket weave, rather than just placing the strips down.  This was the part I would always help out during, weaving under and over with the next strip.  I think her insistence on always perfecting the top crust rubbed off on me, because I have to make sure my basket weave is done right!

Before I baked it I should have added the bits of butter to the top of the completed pie before putting it in the oven, but I forgot that step.  It isn't detrimental to the pie, but the top will be a bit drier without the butter.

I used some of the extra pie dough to make Mr. Darcy a little dog treat.  I just rolled some shredded cheese in the dough and shaped it (as well as I could) into a mini dog bone.

He hasn't tried it yet, although I'm pretty sure he will like it.  He would have probably preferred for me to add some bacon bits too though.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Splendid Shortcakes

Raspberry desserts are my favorite, but raspberries and chocolate are even better.  Since we went berry picking a few days ago we had plenty of raspberries to use, we just had to decide on a recipe.

On my mom's suggestion, I made these Chocolate Raspberry Shortcakes.  They turned out to be quite excellent and different from other desserts I usually make.

You start out by mixing up a dough similar to that of a scone. Like a scone, it doesn't use too much sugar and is mostly butter and flour.

I really had to work it together with my hands to get the dough to stick so I added an extra splash of cream in order to form the balls of dough.

Since the recipe only makes two servings, I doubled it but made six shortcakes.  They turned out to be a pretty good size this way.

They came out of the oven wonderfully light, although a bit more cracked then I would have liked.  For this reason I decided not to cut them in half and serve the berry sauce inside.  Instead, I just spooned it on top and added some whipped cream.

And voila- a fancy (but actually very easy) chocolate raspberry dessert- Chocolate Raspberry Shortcakes!


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Raspberry Heaven

I am always in Michigan around the same time each summer- late July or early August- which just so happens to be right in the middle of raspberry season up north.

Raspberries happen to be my favorite fruit, but unfortunately for me they are often the most expensive of the conventional grocery store berries.  So when I am in Michigan I make a point to take one afternoon or morning and spend it at the farm, picking several quarts of delicious raspberries.

The farm that we visit, Kiteley's, grows red, purple, and black varieties of raspberries.  My favorites are the black and the red; we usually skip the purple.

We picked red first and had pretty good luck finding some gorgeous berries, although they were a bit scattered.

The black were easier to pick, since the berries grow in little clusters, but the thorns are a bit trickier to navigate on the black raspberry bushes.

In total we ended up with two quarts of red raspberries and one quart of black raspberries- enough for making several desserts and/or breakfasts.

 The morning after visiting the farm I made some pancakes using a mix my grandma had on hand.  I decided to throw in some raspberries, which made for an excellent breakfast.

The pancakes were bursting with berries and didn't need any syrup.  A sprinkle of powdered sugar combined with the juicy berries was a perfect complement to the pancakes.

We also managed to make a pie and raspberry shortcakes with the berries we had left, but now they are all gone.  I guess that means another trip to the farm!