Friday, April 29, 2011

Giant Chocolate Chips Scones

I have now been up since 3:55 in the morning and I am still watching coverage of the Royal Wedding. And I continue to try and figure out how to incorporate the words 'betwixt' and 'troth' in my daily vocabulary.

It took me about three days after Prince William and Catherine announced their engagement to decide to take off work on the day of their wedding. It took about two more days to confirm that I would spend the morning watching TV and enjoying a real British breakfast. It took about two seconds - after Googling "English Breakfast" - that I decided I should rethink this plan since baked beans and toast are not as refined as I was hoping.

Then, it was announced that the wedding would begin at 11 am. London time. I admit, after doing the math, I thought that this fun-filled plan might not be the best idea. But no, as a real-life-princess (Just ask my father. And Robbie. They will confirm my status.), I had to stay committed to the future Princess Catherine. So, I roped my parents into going to the beach for a long weekend for our own celebration (Robbie, meanwhile, is studying copyrights, securities regulations and other fun topics). We had English muffins, tea, strawberries and cream* and of course, scones. As I understand it, British scones tend to be dainty and petite and include something healthy like dried fruit and lemon zest. In light of this, I Americanized them by tripling their size and filling them with chocolate.

*A note on strawberries and cream. If you have never had strawberries and cream, you must go to the store immediately, pick up some heavy cream, slice some strawberries and have a bowl. Now I understand what all the fuss is about at Wimbledon. The sweet strawberries combined with the rich cream create this thick, delicious bowl of richness. It makes anyone feel like royalty. And will make you wonder why anyone would have 2% milk when you can have 36%.

Giant Dark Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from Brown Eyed Baker

3¼ cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
2 cups (about 12-oz) package dark chocolate chips
2 cups chilled heavy cream (may need an additional splash of cream)
melted butter for brushing on top
Additional sugar

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Lightly grease a baking sheet. Stir together flour, ½ a cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl (make sure it’s a fairly large bowl and, ideally, a little shallower than normal so you can do all of the kneading, flattening and cutting in one place). Pour cream into flour mixture, stirring just until ingredients are moistened. Add a bit more if needed to completely incorporate the flour. At this point, you can turn the mixture out onto a floured surface and knead gently. I did this in the same bowl, kneading for about two minutes with flour-dusted hands until a soft dough forms. Flatten the ball into a circle and cut into 8 triangles. Transfer triangles to prepared baking sheet. Brush with melted butter and sprinkle with additional sugar. Bake about 40 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve warm.

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Chips

We’re already 9 days into April and I am just now posting something. My apologies, dear readers. I got through April Fool’s Day with minimal occurrences (in fact, most of my exposure to tomfoolery was informing Robbie of the many times he was tricked without knowing it . . . bless his heart . . . really Robbie? You thought Wake Forest was bringing Martin Scorsese to campus to speak to the Law School?). Nevertheless, I must have jinxed myself because, oh my, what a week I had. You see, I tend to surround myself with routine for the simple reason that I appreciate boringness. I like the humdrum, daily pattern of life. I do not like when that is messed up. And this week it was.

But you know what wasn’t messed up? This pound cake. I love it when you read a recipe and you realize that you have every ingredient on the list. That is such a good feeling because you know that you will be enjoying the benefits of your labor sooner than if you had to make a list, go to the store on a Saturday, return home, unload your groceries, recover from the exertion required to take a trip to the store on a Saturday, and then, finally, gather the energy to make the recipe. (I realize there are only six ingredients listed with this recipe but still, work with me here, don’t make me add you to my irritations-in-life this week.)

This recipe comes from Flo Braker. (With a name like that she was destined to be a baker. It screams homemade, domestic, and awesome mom all at the same time. ) She has been the baking columnist (that’s what I want to be when I grow up too) for the San Francisco Chronicle since the late 1980s and her books are inspiring. Flavor combinations that you have never thought of suddenly seem so obvious and complex desserts become utterly attainable. I highly recommend baking one of her recipes. Especially after a week like mine. It will make you remember that even if things go awry during the week, you can spend a couple of hours measuring ingredients and following directions and things will turn out just delicious.

Peanut Butter Pound Cake with Chocolate Chips
Adapted From Baking for All Occasions with chocolate chip input from Piece of Cake

2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 ½ cups granulated sugar
½ cup creamy peanut butter
5 large eggs, lightly beaten, at room temperature
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ - 1 cup chocolate chips of the semi-sweet variety

Butter and flour a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan. In a bowl with an electric mixer, beat the butter on medium-low peed until smooth (about 1 minute). Scrape down the sides of the bowl. On medium speed, add the sugar in a steady stream and beat until the mixture is light, continuing to occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the peanut butter and beat until fluffy and well incorporated, 2 to 3 minutes. Maintaining the same speed, add the eggs, bit by bit, beating each addition until incorporated. With the mixer on the lowest speed, add the flour in two additions, mixing after each addition until combined. Using a wooden spoon, fold the chocolate chips into the batter. Pour the batter into the loaf pan and spread evenly.

Bake the cake until golden brown and a round wooden toothpick or skewer inserted in the center comes out clean. I baked mine for 65 minutes and the outside was definitely done (almost burnt at the ends) but still slightly sad (at least that’s what my family calls uncooked middles in a cake). Transfer to a wire rack and let cool in the pan. Remove from pan and cool completely on the wire rack.