Dark Chocolate Peppermint Scones

Looking for a special breakfast for Valentine’s day?  How about dark chocolate peppermint scones?   You can make the scones today, freeze them, and bake them on Valentine’s day morning so there is minimal time involved in the morning.  I love scones and have used this basic recipe before when we have company.  I learned from Annie’s Eats you can freeze scones prior to baking and bake straight from the freezer, by adding just a few extra minutes to the bake time. Scones taste best when eaten warm from the oven.  To freeze,  I wrap the scones individually in plastic wrap prior to baking, and place them on a cookie sheet in the freezer.  Once the scones are frozen I place them in a plastic bag.  Bake directly from the freezer, removing plastic wrap first. 

Dark Chocolate Peppermint Scones

Ingredients
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons sugar
4 teaspoons baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs, beaten
¾ cup whipping cream
½ cup dark chocolate chips
about ½ cup peppermint candies, crushed
milk for brushing on scones
Directions:
If baking all or any of the scones, preheat oven to 400F.
1.     In a bowl combine, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. 
2.     Cut-in the butter using a pastry blender, 2 knives, or a fork until the mixture looks like course crumbs
3.     Make a well in the center of the flour mixture
4.     In another bowl, mix the eggs, whipping cream, and chocolate chips
5.     Add egg mixture the flour mixture, stir until moistened (don’t over mix)
6.     Turn dough out onto a lightly flour surface, knead lightly just about 10-12 times of folding and pressing the dough. 
7.     Roll the dough or pat it down into a circle (you can also place it in a cake pan for ease in shaping)
8.     If freezing for baking later – wrap scones individually and place on a cookie sheet in a freezer, when frozen place in a plastic bag. 
9.     If you are baking all or any of the scones immediately, brush on milk (I use a pastry brush) and sprinkle with about 1 teaspoon of crushed peppermint candy, then place on a cookie sheet (I do this after brushing on the milk and candy so it doesn’t burn and make a mess on my cookie sheet.)
10.  Bake for 15-17 minutes, until scones are brown on the bottom (add more time – about 2-3 minutes if baking from the freezer).  Serve warm
Mangia!
Lindsay Lou

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Cranberry-Apple Pancake


Do you have a go-to special weekend breakfast or one you make especially for company? If you need one, look no further and if you have one you can add this to your repertoire. A co-worker from a previous job gave me this recipe for the apple pancake, which was adapted from her mother-in-law (if my memory is correct ;). Her recipe was with apples, cinnamon, and raisins soaked in orange juice; which is how I generally make this but I decided it needed a makeover for the holidays. When I saw the big bag of cranberries at the grocery store I knew they would find a way in this revamped recipe. I usually add vanilla extract to the pancake, which was not part of the original recipe but I decided to use a vanilla bean this time since I had some in my pantry. You can find vanilla beans in the spice aisle but they can be pricey. I made my own vanilla extract this year so I decided to buy the vanilla beans in bulk from Penzeys Spice as it was more cost effective than buying them at the store for me. After you have scraped the inside (seeds) of the vanilla bean you can stick the bean in your sugar to make vanilla sugar (just continue to add sugar) or add it to a jar of salt (to use in your baking). If you don’t feel like spending the extra money on vanilla beans just substitute vanilla extract.

Ingredients for apple-cranberry compote:
1 cup fresh cranberries, rinsed
3 medium granny smith apples, sliced (you could substitute pears for the apples)
1/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons butter

Ingredients for pancake:
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup skim milk
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 vanilla bean*, split in half then scrape both sides with a knife to get the beans. Save the rest of the bean and stick in some sugar for vanilla sugar or in salt for vanilla salt.
*You could substitute 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

For garnish (Optional):
1 cranberry
1 apple, sliced
lemon juice
*If you use the apples for garnish, make sure to dip or brush apples with lemon juice so they do not brown (I didn’t do this and they browned very quickly)

Directions:
1. Preheat oven to 375F
2. Mix sliced apples, cranberries and 1/4 cup sugar in a bowl. Toss to coat.
3. In an oven-safe skillet melt the butter, add apple mixture.
4. Cook apple mixture until apples are tender, about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, smooth mixture so it is even.
5. Mix sugar, flour, salt, and vanilla beans. This helps to make sure the vanilla doesn’t stay clumped together.
6. Mix in the eggs and skim milk. Whisk mixture until clumps are gone.
7. Pour batter over cranberry-apple mixture and bake at 375F for 20-30 minutes, until it is firm. If you use the vanilla bean you will see black specks in the batter, don’t panic this is just the vanilla beans.

Serve warm, at room temperature or cold (it is very versatile but I prefer warm). I flipped the pancake over (carefully, loosening the sides with a spatula and shaking it gently to ensure limited sticking) onto a the cake stand but you could just serve straight from the pan which is what I often do. Just make sure to wrap something around the handle so everyone knows it is hot and doesn’t burn themselves (I speak from experience).

Mangia!
Lindsay Lou

Source: Adapted from a previous co-worker’s (Amy) mother-in-law

Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

I had some leftover buttermilk and wanted to bake something with it and well avoid studying for another half hour. I found a basic muffin recipe and adapted it as I love lemon poppy seed bread/muffins. I made these twice, tweaking the 2nd version a bit more which is what you see here. Make sure to use fresh lemon juice. Don’t have buttermilk? Don’t worry! You can “make” buttermilk: Add 1 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 cup milk, let sit 15 minutes. Now I am hungry again, guess I better go eat 2, I mean 1 more muffin 😉
Ingredients

For the Muffins:
2 cups cake flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt1 beaten egg
1 cup buttermilk
1/4 vegetable oil
2 tablespoons poppy seeds
1/4 cup lemon juice
2 tablespoons grated lemon rind
For the Icing:
1/2 cup powdered sugar
2 teaspoons lemon juice2 teaspoons buttermilk
1 teaspoon grated lemon rind

Directions

For the muffins:
1. Preheat oven to 400F
2. Grease 12 2 1/2 inch muffin cups or line with paper baking cups and set aside.
3. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and poppy seeds; set aside.
4. In separate bowl combine eggs, milk, butter, lemon juice and lemon rind.
5. Make a well in the flour, you can do this by using the back of a spoon.

6. Add the milk mixture at once to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened. Be careful not to over mix.
7. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin pan, filling cups about 2/3 full and bake for 18-20 minutes until a toothpick inserted in the muffins comes out a few crumbs only.
8. Let sit for about a 2 minutes in the muffin pan then remove muffins and let finish cooling on a wire rack.

For the icing:
1. Mix powdered sugar, buttermilk, and lemon juice until lumps are gone.
2. Add lemon rind.
3. Ice muffins when fully cooled.

Mangia!
Lindsay Lou

Source: Adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Cook Book