Tuesday, February 11, 2014

My Lazy Morning Scones

Recipe created by Nicole Miller
Food styling and photography: Nicole Miller Professional Creative LLC

I call these lazy morning scones because they really require very little effort during those pre-coffee moments of the day. They are simply a variation of a very quick biscuit recipe I found a few years ago. No cutting in butter, no chilling the dough ... just mix the basic ingredients together, toss in a little fruit, and whip up a quick glaze to make them YOUR lazy morning “scones.” Enjoy!

Lazy Morning Scones
2 c. flour (I like to use a mix of 1 ¼ c. white whole wheat flour and ¾ c. all purpose flour)
2 tsp baking powder
¼ tsp baking soda
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbs granulated sugar
2/3 c. buttermilk
3 1/3 Tbs canola oil
¾ c. frozen blueberries (no need to thaw) or mix-ins of your choice
1/2 - 1 Tbs. lemon zest

Additional sugar for sprinkling, optional

1 c powdered sugar
2-4 Tbs lemon juice, or other liquid (milk or coffee would be great options)
1/2 Tbs vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

Preheat oven to 450° F.

Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium sized bowl.

In a separate bowl, mix together buttermilk and oil. Pour into the dry mix and combine until just blended.

Fold in blueberries and lemon zest, or other desired mix ins. Do not overmix.

I use my largest cookie scoop and make about 6 large scones. Place the scones on a parchment lined cookie sheet. I like to leave them mounded – you can flatten them a bit if you like, but you may need to reduce the baking time. Sprinkle tops with a little extra sugar for a nice crackly texture.

Bake 15 - 18 minutes if making large scones. Watch them closely so they don't get too dark.

While the scones bake, whip up your quick glaze by just combining all 4 ingredients, whisking until smooth. Start with 2 Tbs of the liquid and if the glaze is too thick, add more liquid. If too thin, add more powdered sugar.

I drizzle a little glaze on the scones right out of the oven to let it soak in a bit. And then a little more after they have cooled slightly. These are great served warm or at room temperature. Best enjoyed the day they are made.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cupcakes with Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting

Recipe created by Nicole Miller, with adaptations from sources listed below.
Food styling and photography by Nicole Miller Professional Creative LLC

Inspired by a love of chocolate covered pretzels, spurred on by my brother consuming the leftover chocolate pretzels from Christmas and made to enjoy at a baby shower for our special friends who just welcomed the sweetest little boy into their lives.

Chocolate Covered Pretzel Cupcakes with Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting 

Pretzel Crust
(Adapted from javacupcake) 
3 c. salted pretzel sticks
1/2 c. unsalted butter, melted 
2 Tbs brown sugar
Pinch of salt

Chocolate Cake (Adapted from Hershey's "Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Cake)
2 c. granulated sugar
1 3/4 c. all-purpose flour

3/4 c. cocoa
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 c. milk  
1/2 c. sour cream 
1/2 c. extra light olive oil or canola oil
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 c. water, boiling

1 c. dark chocolate chips
6 Tbs heavy cream

Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting (Adapted from Organic and Chic)
14 Tbs unsalted butter, cubed and softened - but still cool
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. whole milk (heavy whipping cream is an excellent substitute, but please don't use 2% or less)
1/4 c. flour
1/2 Tbs vanilla
2-3 Tbs peanut butter (all natural, no oil or sugar added)

Salt to taste

Crushed pretzels
Chocolate dipped pretzels (I made my own by tempering dark chocolate so it would set up nicely.)

Pretzel Crust
Preheat oven to 350° F. Line cupcake pan with liners.

Using a food processor, pulse the pretzels until they are in small chunks. Add the melted butter and brown sugar and process on high until combined and the pretzels are in small crumbs.

Press 1 Tbs of pretzel crust into the bottom of each cupcake liner. Bake for 8 minutes, or until they start browning. Set aside to cool while preparing cake batter.

Stir together sugar, flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda and salt in large bowl. Add eggs, milk, sour cream, oil and vanilla; beat on medium speed of mixer 2 minutes. Stir in boiling water (batter will be thin). Scoop batter over the pretzel crust until 3/4 full.

Bake 13-18 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pans to wire racks. Cool completely. While cake is cooling, prepare ganache.

Pour chocolate chips into a glass bowl. Heat heavy cream to a simmer (microwave or stove). Do not bring to a boil.

Immediately pour cream over the chopped chocolate and let sit for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

Stir gently until all the chocolate has melted and you have a glossy perfect ganache.

Whipped Peanut Butter Frosting
Add sugar and flour to a small saucepan, whisk to combine. Add in milk and vanilla.

Continue to whisk and cook over medium heat until it comes to a boil and thickens.

Set aside to cool, covered with plastic wrap either at room temperature or in the fridge.
(This portion can be prepared ahead of time and kept in the fridge until ready to assemble the cupcakes.)

Once cooled, begin beating mixture with a mixer on high. Reduce speed to low and add in butter a few cubes at a time.

Add in peanut butter and salt, beat on high until light and fluffy. If it looks like it is going to break, don't give up - it will quickly come together into a smooth frosting.

It is best to use this frosting right away. If you put it in the fridge to chill it will need to be whipped again to get the consistency soft again for frosting your cupcakes. I try not to mess with that if at all possible.

Assembling the cupcake
Coat the top of each cupcake with a thin layer of ganache. Dip the edges of the ganache topped cupcakes in crushed pretzels and let set for 10-15 minutes.

Top cupcakes with frosting and a chocolate covered pretzel.