Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}Welcome to May, my lovely readers. Apologies for the April hiatus, I got busy and blah blah all the usual excuses. However, I’ve been working on some new recipes for the summer and I’m excited to share them with you over the coming months.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

In the meantime, I’ve been craving scones lately and wanted to get some berry action given the unseasonably warm weather we’ve been having here in Montana. I hopped over to Pastry Affair since I was pretty sure she’d have a great recipe, and boy was I right. Incredibly moist, bursting with berries, and boasting the added delight of white chocolate chips, these scones were exactly what I was looking for. Perfect for dessert, breakfast, or snack, they’re delicious at any time of day. Serve them solo with coffee as the main event, or in conjunction with eggs and sausage for a fuller breakfast.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As fragile as raspberries are, even my frozen ones became somewhat muddled in the dough, but I think this only adds to the aesthetic as well as resulting in a perfect raspberry flavor in every bite. (The lovely pink color would make them extra adorable for Valentine’s Day, if you’re in to that sort of thing.) The dough was annoyingly sticky, I’ll admit, but an extra hand washing is well worth it in the end. In fact, I enjoyed them so much that the next day I made another batch with blackberries and dark chocolate chips. I think they’d be awesome with many combinations of berries and baking chips, so play around with the flavors and report back with your favorites.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Scones are something I never much enjoyed until I went to Scotland in 2009, and it was shortly after that when I found my go to recipe for cinnamon sugar scones. I love that recipe because it’s simple and super quick, but this one will definitely be added to the repertoire for a “berrylicious” alternative.

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

As you are likely aware, Mother’s Day is this coming Sunday. As I eat these scones, and write this post, I think about my mom and how much she has molded me and helped me throughout my life. Even now, she graciously proofreads all my posts and offers her own opinions and tweaks when she tries the recipes. I am so grateful for her being such an amazing person in my life and I wish I could bring her some of these scones to start off a day of celebrating her. But since we’ll be about a thousand miles apart this weekend, I guess a phone call will have to do.

Blackberry Dark Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Thanks Mom. =)

Raspberry White Chocolate Chip Scones {{Baking Bytes}}

Choose Your Own Adventure Scones

Borrowed from Pastry Affair
Makes 8 scones

Ingredients

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

6 Tbsp butter, softened

1 rounded cup frozen berries (do not thaw)1
1/2 cup baking chips (white chocolate, chocolate, etc)2

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tsp vanilla
1 large egg

raw or granulated sugar for topping

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicon mat and lightly dust with flour. Set aside.
  2. Whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
  3. Use your fingers to mix in butter until well distributed and texture is like fluffy but damp sand.
  4. Gently stir in berries and chips. Set aside.
  5. Whisk together remaining ingredients in a small bowl. Pour over dry mixture and gently mix until combined. You will likely need to use your hands and it will be very sticky – this is annoying, but normal and oh so worth it.
  6. On your lightly floured silicon mat, flatten dough into a circle about one inch thick. If you like, sprinkle on some raw sugar.
  7. Cut into eight wedges (I like to use a pizza cutter) and gently spread to at least one inch apart on the baking sheet using a spatula dipped in flour. Wipe up extraneous flour if there’s a lot of extra.
  8. Bake 25-30 minutes. Scones should no longer look wet and the bottoms will be lightly browned. Cool at least a few minutes before serving; they are also delightful at room temperature.
  9. Store covered but unsealed at room temperature. (If you seal them they will get sticky. I promise they will stay moist overnight. If you have pets or bugs you can cover them with a cloth or lid – just not anything airtight.)

Notes

Raspberries and blackberries have both been awesome. I cut some of the larger blackberries in half but that’s not strictly necessary. Blueberries or cranberries would also be great.

The full half cup makes the scones quite sweet, so feel free to use a smaller amount (or leave them out entirely) if you don’t want quite as much sugar.

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Champagne Layer Cake

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}I hope you cherished or survived your Valentine’s Day, depending on where you stand with the so-called holiday. My anniversary with M happens to fall on this overly Hallmarked date and on that Saturday we celebrated six years together. We celebrated with a bike ride given the ridiculous lack of winter but it was a wonderful day nonetheless. M makes dinner (usually Swedish meatballs; yum) and I make a layer cake.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I’ve made chocolate and raspberry and peanut butter and chocolate, as well as other delicacies not featured on this blog, and all were very delicious. This year, however, I was looking for something different. I perused Pinterest and implored the masses on Facebook, and happened across a scrumptious-sounding champagne cupcake on Sprinkle Bakes. Obviously I was looking to build a layer cake and not cupcakes, but the recipe looked easily adaptable. Just in case, I questioned Heather, the brilliant author of SB. Not only is she a brilliant blogger, but she’s a delightful person and promptly assuaged my very minimal doubts. Next step: buy champagne!

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

I chose a bottle of Barefoot Bubbly Pink Moscato Champagne, because I like Barefoot wine and a sweet champagne seemed like a solid plan. As a bonus, the reduced champagne in the frosting tinted it a very pale pink which I felt was appropriate given the occasion. Although it seems like a lot of steps, each part of this cake came together easily and could definitely stand on its own. Together, however, they create a supremely champagne experience without feeling like you’re getting drunk off dessert. (Not that getting drunk off dessert is necessarily a bad thing. Pudding shots, amiright?)

Despite having nearly the entire bottle within the various pieces, it’s still a fairly light cake. The taste of champagne is definitely prominent but not overwhelming, and I felt it was a welcome change to the usual chocolate confections. I think M was a little disappointed it’s not the kind of cake you pair with ice cream, but I promised to make it up to him on his birthday.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

A soft crumb and a custard filling enveloped in a fluffy frosting make for a textural dream in addition to the totally different but amazing flavor. It would be an especially lovely ending for a dinner party if you’re a classy folk but would be great for any special occasion. If you’re looking to switch it up from all the usual flavors, this is the cake for you.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cake

Adapted from Sprinkle Bakes
Makes one 9″ cake

Ingredients

1 cup butter, room temp
2 cups granulated sugar

4 eggs
2 tsp vanilla

3 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

1 cup sour cream
1 cup champagne

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter and flour two 9″ cake pans, lining the bottoms with parchment paper. (Butter and flour the paper as well).
  2. Cream  together butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer until light and fluffy.
  3. Add eggs one at a time, mixing completely after each one. Mix in vanilla.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
  5. In another bowl, whisk together champagne and sour cream. Mixture will be fizzy.
  6. Starting and ending with the flour, alternate adding it and the sour cream mixture to the stand mixer. Batter will be thick.
  7. Divide evenly between prepared cake pans (about 3.5 cups of batter per pan) and bake for 30-35 minutes. Cake will brown but that’s okay! Allow to cool for 10 minutes in the pan, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely. Freeze completely cooled cake layers for 30 minutes or until ready to use.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Cream Filling

Makes about 2 cups

Ingredients

1/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup champagne
1/4 cup + 1 Tbsp sugar

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp cornstarch
1 egg + 2 egg yolks

2 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Combine 1/4 cup heavy cream, champagne, and sugar in a medium sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium-high then remove from heat.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together 1/4 cup heavy cream and cornstarch, then mix in the eggs and egg yolks.
  3. Slowly stream in one third of the hot champagne mixture, whisking constantly so the egg doesn’t cook.
  4. Bring the remaining champagne and heavy cream mixture to a boil again, then stream in the egg mixture, whisking constantly until it thickens to a pudding-like consistency.
  5. Remove from the heat and stir in butter and vanilla.

Champagne Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Champagne Buttercream Frosting

Makes just enough for one 9″ double-layer cake

Ingredients

1 cup champagne

1 cup butter, room temp
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar

1 Tbsp champagne

Directions

  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, reduce 1 cup of champagne to 2 tablespoon. Pour into a small bowl and allow to cool.
  2. Add butter and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixture and mix briefly by hand to incorporate the sugar.
  3. Cream together with the whisk attachment until mixture is well combined and fluffy, scraping the bowl once or twice as necessary.
  4. Mix in reduced champagne and additional tablespoon of champagne from the bottle.

Assembly Instructions

Ingredients

2 champagne cake layers
1 batch champagne filling
1 batch champagne buttercream frosting

Directions

  1. Prepare a cake board, trimming if necessary.
  2. Level cake layers. Place a small amount of frosting on the cake board and gently press one cake layer on top.
  3. Evenly spread desired amount of filling on the cake (I used the whole batch), then gently press the second layer on top (cut side down) making sure it’s level. Then use a spatula (or your finger) to ensure the edges are smooth.
  4. Spread and/or pipe the frosting on the cake, and decorate as desired.

Notes

This was barely enough frosting to spread on the cake. If you intend to do any piping or you like a lot of frosting, I recommend making 1.5 batches.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Happy President’s Day! I hope everyone had a wonderful weekend (and Valentine’s Day, if you’re into that sort of thing.) Friday marked my 5-year anniversary with M, and as usual I baked a cake for the occasion. Each year I use a brand new recipe I’ve never tried, but luckily so far all of them have been delightful. Two years ago was a chocolate raspberry layer cake, and last year was a black forest chocolate cake I haven’t added to this blog yet. Maybe I’ll do a flashback post one of these days.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

This year, I wanted to hark back to the first cake I ever made: a chocolate cake, cream cheese peanut butter frosting, and chocolate ganache decadence that was amazing, albeit incredibly rich. Chocolate and peanut butter are a mutual favorite and this year I decided to reverse it in anticipation of a slightly less decadent confection. Borrowing a peanut butter cake recipe from The Daring Gourmet and pairing it with the same chocolate buttercream frosting from two years ago resulted the cake version of a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

The cake is moist with a fabulous peanut butter flavor, and pairs beautifully with the chocolate buttercream. I opted for just frosting and no extra filling, but for an extra kick some chopped peanut butter cups would be fabulous between the layers.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Peanut butter chips make a fun polka dot decoration that keeps with the peanut butter theme while being a contrasting color to the frosting. Bonus: they are super easy to decorate with.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Below find The Daring Gourmet’s peanut butter cake recipe with my minimal changes, followed by a reprint of my chocolate buttercream. The original cake called for baking it all in one layer and cutting the cake in half, but since I don’t have a tall enough cake pan for that I opted to divide it before baking. I actually prefer this method because there’s no cutting involved, but both ways should work equally well.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

As for the frosting, I used about a tablespoon of dark cocoa and the rest regular to keep with a more traditional Reese’s pairing, but if you’re a dark chocolate kinda person, go ahead and use all dark cocoa. It will be amazing. For assembly, use your favorite method or head on over to my chocolate layer cake for my own method. Just ignore anything that mentions a filling and use peanut butter chips or another topping for some flair.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

So next time you have a peanut butter fanatic to please, this cake will definitely fit the bill. Just be sure to sneak a piece for yourself.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake

Borrowed from The Daring Gourmet
Serves 8-12

Ingredients

1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/3 cup (rounded) creamy peanut butter
1 cup brown sugar (loosely packed)

2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

1 ½ cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt

1 cup buttermilk

Directions

  1. Line the bottoms of two 8″ (or 9″) cake pans with parchment paper. Butter and flour the pans, especially the sides.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  3. In a large mixing bowl (or with a stand mixer), beat the oil, peanut butter, and brown sugar on medium speed until combined and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs and vanilla, and mix on low until just combined.
  5. In a separate bowl, whisk together dry ingredients.
  6. Starting with the dry mixture, alternately add it with the buttermilk, beat gently with each addition just until combined. Batter will be fairly thick.
  7. Divide batter evenly between prepared cake pans and bake for 18-22 minutes. A toothpick should come out moist but not wet.
  8. Cool cakes in the pan for a few minutes, then turn onto a cooling rack to cool completely (about one hour).
  9. Wrap each layer carefully in plastic wrap, and freeze for 1 hour or until ready to frost.

Peanut Butter Layer Cake {{Baking Bytes}}

Chocolate Buttercream Frosting

From Savory Sweet Life
Makes about 3 cups

Ingredients

1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature

3 ½ cups sifted powdered sugar
½ cup sifted cocoa powder3

½ tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract

¼ cup tablespoons milk, half and half, or heavy cream

Directions

  1. Beat butter on medium speed until light and fluffy, about three minutes.
  2. Add sifted powdered sugar and cocoa, and mix on low (unless you want a blizzard) until combined.
  3. Add vanilla, salt, and milk or cream and beat for 3 minutes on medium speed.
  4. If necessary, thin with milk/cream (1 tablespoon at a time) or stiffen with powdered sugar to desired consistency.

Notes

1 This cake is pretty beginner friendly, just be careful not to over-bake it.
2 It keeps well on the counter for a few days, just be sure to cover it with plastic wrap. (Once the frosting has set it shouldn’t stick much.
3 I used part dark and part regular, but any combination of cocoa powders will do; just make sure it all adds up to a half cup.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

I am not entirely sure how it could possibly be February already, but the sudden pinkification of everything in stores and on Pinterest means it must be true. Between work, training, and M finally returning home, January flew by at a rather alarming rate. Nonetheless, 2014 has started off pretty well so far and now that I’ve finally established my goals for the year I am pretty excited to start on them. I’m looking forward to a year of new recipes and new experiences.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

One of my biggest goals for the year is to run six half marathons; the first is on my birthday, March 15. The main goal of this first race was to keep me running all winter (so far a success) and give me a head start with training. Since I’m hoping for a sub-2:10 in September, I knew there was no way I’d get there if I started in June (as is my habit.) So far so good, but we’ll see where the year takes us.

On the flip side, I’m still baking up loads of sugary delight because that’s clearly going to help me get there. Ha. But be that as it may, this is the month of pink and red heart-shaped boxes of mostly terrible chocolates. Or in layman’s terms, Valentine’s Day. I’ve never been particularly fond of this holiday (shouldn’t you appreciate each other all the time?) but it happens to be the same day as my anniversary with M. (He is quick to point out this was coincidence and there is no “sappy love story” behind it. Silly kid.) This has drastically improved the “holiday” in my eyes, and each year I bake a cake to celebrate. Look for that post in a couple of weeks.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

In the mean time, here’s a fabulous recipe which would be delightful for any special occasion. Chocolate cookie crust, white chocolate, and a raspberry swirl come together in an amazing and smooth cheesecake sure to impress. Drizzle with chocolate sauce for extra presentation points.  It is very rich so just a small piece will do, but it keeps very well in the freezer if you don’t have eleven best friends to invite over.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

Fair warning, I’ve never managed to make this cheesecake without it cracking along the swirls, but it is beautiful and delicious just the same. If you’re looking to step it up a notch this year, and you have a spring-form pan1, this cheesecake is a fabulous option. Although a bit time-consuming, none of the steps are difficult as long as you pay attention. Bonus: it’s at least as delicious as it is pretty.

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake

Adapted from CindyAnn
Makes 1 cheesecake

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups chocolate cookie crumbs (about 20 Oreos2)
1/4 cup butter, melted

10 oz frozen raspberries
2 Tbsp sugar
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water

2 cups white chocolate chips3
1/2 cup half and half
3 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temp
1/2 cup sugar
3 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract

White Chocolate Raspberry Cheesecake {{Baking Bytes}}

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, mix together cookie crumbs and melted butter until completely combined.
  2. Pour mixture into the bottom of a 9″ or 10″ spring-form pan, pressing down evenly and thoroughly to form the crust. No need to press it up the sides.
  3. In a small saucepan, combine raspberries, sugar, cornstarch and water, and heat over medium-high until boiling. Continue boiling until sauce has thickened, about five minutes. Strain sauce to remove seeds.
  4. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Using a double boiler (or a metal bowl over simmering water), melt chocolate and half and half, stirring until smooth. Set aside.
  6. Meanwhile, beat the cream cheese and sugar on medium-high speed until smooth and fluffy, about three minutes.
  7. Add eggs one at a time, beating on medium until combined.
  8. Stir in vanilla and white chocolate mixture until mixture is very smooth. It will be somewhat runny.
  9. Carefully pour batter over the crust.
  10. Slowly pour raspberry sauce into batter in a spiral shape. Drag a knife or a toothpick through the mixture to create swirls.
  11. Bake 55-60 minutes for a 9″ pan, or 45-50 minutes for a 10″ pan. Filling should be set but still a little jiggly4.
  12. Turn off the oven and crack the door, leaving the cheesecake to cool in the oven for at least 30 minutes. Remove to counter to cool an additional 30 minutes.
  13. Cover pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  14. Carefully remove from pan, slice in 12 pieces, and serve to adoring guests5.
  15. If you have leftovers, they keep beautifully in the freezer6.

Notes

1 I love my glass-bottom, handled version M got me.
2 Store-brand chocolate sandwich cookies work just fine for cheesecake crusts. I like to pulse the crumbs in a blender a few times to get them extra fine.
3 I like to use Ghirardelli white chocolate chips for this recipe.
4 Cheesecakes are very easy to overbake. Check it at 5 minutes before the lower end of the range: if it still looks kind of like pudding, keep baking. It should look firm but jiggle as one when you tap the side of the pan with a wooden spoon.
5 To get clean slices, wipe off the knife between each slice with a hot, damp cloth. It is a giant pain but worth the effort.
6 If you decide to freeze it (which I highly recommend!), cut strips of parchment paper and gently press on both sides of each slice. Place the slices in a freezer safe container, cover the top with plastic wrap, and make sure the lid is tightly sealed. Defrost in the fridge if you have time, or in the microwave if you’re impatient like me. =)