Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Freezer Scones

My mom recently had a birthday. In place of a cake, I made her a big batch of scones and froze them individually, so that she can pop one in the toaster oven whenever she wants one. What you need to know is that a) you will make a floury buttery mess making these, b) they are pretty much all fat and flour, but c) they're delicious.

The recipe below makes 5 dozen scones. If you want to make a smaller batch, it's easiest to divide it by 6, with one single batch making 10 scones. For my mom, I divided everything up and added different flavorings to each one so she had a lot of different kinds. To freeze, just lay them out on parchment paper or freezer paper, in a single layer. Once they're frozen solid, transfer to labeled bags or containers.

Pictured: Chocolate Chip and Rosemary Parmesan. (Pic courtesy of Mom.)

Cream Scones
adapted from the America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book

12  c all-purpose flour
1 1/4  c sugar
6  T baking powder
1 1/2  t salt
15  oz butter, cold
5-6  c heavy cream
Flavorings/add-ins see note

Whisk dry ingredients together. Cut butter into cubes, work into the flour mixture with your hands until the pieces are barely visible. It should have a texture similar to coarse cornmeal, with any large pieces of butter pea-sized at most.

Slowly pour in cream, a little at a time. You may not need it all. The dough should barely clump together, with some dry patches of flour. Turn it out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead 5-6 times until a very stiff cohesive blob of dough forms. Divide this into 6 pieces.

Shape each piece into a flat rectangle. I usually aim for about 10 inches long by 2 inches wide, so that my scones will be approximately 2 inches. Divide this rectangle into 5 squares, then cut the squares on the diagonal to make a total of 10 triangles. Repeat with the other 5 pieces of dough.

If you're going to bake them immediately, chill for at least 30 min before baking at 450. Frozen scones are best baked at 425, especially if you have dried fruit in them. 400 is usually a good temperature for the toaster oven because they brown faster.

Note: I typically only use dried fruits and/or nuts for flavoring, as fresh fruits will make the dough too wet. I usually soak the dried fruit in the cream that I'm going to use in the scones for a few hours or overnight (in the refrigerator.)Favorite flavors of mine follow.
  • Vanilla Bean - Infuse the cream with the scrapings and pods of 2 vanilla beans. When ready to make, add 1 T vanilla extract to cream. Remove pods, squeezing out liquid.
  • Cinnamon Raisin - Soak 1 1/2 c raisins (or more if desired) in the cream. Add 1 T cinnamon to the dry ingredients.
  • Cranberry Orange - Soak 1 1/2 c dried cranberries (or more if desired) in the cream. Add the zest of 4 oranges to the dry ingredients. (I usually juice 2 of the oranges and use that as some of the liquid.)
  • Lemon Poppyseed - Add 1-2 T poppyseeds to dry ingredients, along with the zest of 6 lemons. (I usually juice 4 of the lemons and use that as some of the liquid.)
  • Toasted Almond - Add 1 c toasted slivered almonds to the dry ingredients. Add 1 T almond extract to the cream.
  • Chocolate Chip - Add 1 1/2 c mini chocolate chips to the dry ingredients. Add 1 T vanilla extract to the cream.
  • Rosemary Parmesan - Add 2 T finely chopped rosemary and 1 c grated Parmesan cheese to the dry ingredients.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Expired Yogurt = Dessert? Trust Me.

I have good intentions about eating healthy. I swear. I just have this terrible compulsion to buy 8,000 containers of yogurt at a time. (I'm exaggerating. It's more like 8-12.) Anyway, when I buy it, I'm in a "yogurt mood" and convince myself I will surely eat them all before the expiration date. Yeah. Not so much.

Feeling guilty after spending $100 at the grocery store, I decided to clean out the fridge and came across four containers of expired yogurt. I opened one - it smelled like yogurt. Tasted it - definitely tasted like yogurt, so I figured I'd use it up. I also had some milk expiring today. Since I am also afflicted with a compulsion to eat ice cream every day if I have it around, I figured I could make almost-fat-free frozen yogurt. (Let's just ignore the fact that I bought a container of vanilla ice cream and a package of Drumstick cones on said grocery trip...)

Quantities given are rough estimates, given my aversion to washing dishes - one large measuring cup, a spatula, and the ice cream maker are more than enough dishes for me!

Strawberry Frozen Yogurt

- 4 6-oz containers fat-free or low fat yogurt
(I used one each of Dannon Light&Fit in Strawberry, Strawberry Cheesecake, and Pineapple Coconut, and one plain Greek yogurt.)
- 1/4 c strawberry preserves
- 1/4 c simple syrup or corn syrup
- skim milk

Whisk the preserves and syrup together in a 4 cup glass measuring cup, and add yogurt, whisking after each container to help break up the preserves. Whisk in enough skim milk to make one quart. Pour into your ice cream maker, and freeze according to the directions. (I used my Cuisinart - I swear it was 15 minutes and it was done.) Pack into a container and freeze.

It's soooo yummy - sweet enough to feel like dessert, but tangy enough to eat as a snack and justify that it still counts as yogurt. Plus the only fat was from the 6 oz of Greek yogurt - you could definitely substitute fat-free yogurt!