Oatmeal & Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

This is a riff on the Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Scones recipe I shared a couple of years ago, with a  couple of adjustments like less butter and the addition of dark chocolate. Win-win! We’re technically on the brink of spring time, although we’ve had such warm weather lately, if you weren’t a CO native, you could almost forget that we’ll still have plenty of cooler weather before we’re begging for mercy in May and into June. So I’m sharing this recipe for those rainy (snowy?) days that are still in our future. I refuse to let weather ruin a day, it’s more fun to embrace it and so I bake when it’s too cold and wet to venture out. More accurately, when I have ventured out into the cold for a hike with friends or errands, it’s so nice to come home and stir together a few ingredients and enjoy the delicious aroma as these scones bake and the oven warms the kitchen. Finally, the gift is to sit down to a cup of tea and freshly baked scone. Welcome, Spring!

Oatmeal & Dark Chocolate Chip Scones

adapted by Stephanie Kunstle from the “Old-Fashioned Oatmeal Scones” recipe in Bread for Breakfast by Beth Hensperger

Note: All you need is a large mixing bowl, and a light hand. Scone dough should be handled gently, so don’t muscle this together. You want light and airy.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 and 1/4 cups quick-cooking rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup mounded dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup cold buttermilk
  • turbinado sugar for sprinkling

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 375ºF. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine both flours, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut in the butter and olive oil until the mixture has the texture of soft crumbs with pea sized or smaller lumps. Add the oatmeal and dark chocolate, and toss to combine.
  3. Stir in the buttermilk until dough forms a soft, shaggy ball, adding more buttermilk a tablespoon at a time if you need a bit more moisture.
  4. Turn the dough out onto a clean and floured work surface, knead gently about 10 times, or just until dough holds together. Pat out the dough into a rectangle (9 inches wide, 12 inches long) no less than 1 inch thick. Cut with a sharp knife or pastry wheel to form 12 squares (3 cuts across and 4 cuts down).
  5. Place the scones 1/2 inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet. Give each scone a  sprinkle of turbinado sugar for a little sparkle and touch of sweetness. Bake on center rack of the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until just golden. Remove the pan from the oven and cool to the desired temperature on the baking sheet (for me that means I wait, oh, maybe 2 minutes). Serve hot, warm or room temperature!

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Rosemary Saffron Aioli

This all began when Dave brought home some ground lamb to cook over the fire pit in the back yard a couple of weeks ago. He had volunteered to make dinner (he’d caught wind that I was probably going to offer up scrambled eggs and toast), and so when he returned from the store, he only had one small request — could I just make a simple rosemary aioli? Commence my eyes rolling into the back of my head. Does every exhausted spouse only have to make aioli? But he’s maybe just a little spoiled when it comes to menu requests, and I’m a total sucker for trying something new in the kitchen. At least we all know what we are.

He set to work making killer lamb burgers, and I started an aioli search on the web to see what I could find. I quickly narrowed it down to a recipe from Ina Garten — I fully agree with her philosophy of using good ingredients and letting them shine in her recipes. Of course, I needed to make my aioli with rosemary, but I loved her idea of using saffron. Aioli calls for raw egg yolks, which I’m all for, except, I’ve been having “issues” with undercooked eggs lately. SO SAD. I couldn’t just leave them out though. It wouldn’t be aioli without the rich, fatty, creaminess that an egg yolk offers. And that’s when I decided to pull out the labneh. That was the absolute trick. Suddenly, I had THE aioli. Huge flavor, super creamy, and no tummy aches. It was so delicious over the lamb burgers… and a couple of days later, we had to find a reason to use up the leftovers, so we grilled portobellos, zucchini, onions, and halloumi and slathered the aioli over that. Amazing. We repeated that one again over this past weekend, but with gorgonzola this time (that was another win), always topping these with fresh arugula. Which brings me to yesterday. Wild caught King Salmon was fresh off the boat (and in our land-locked case, airplane) and I had visions of the salmon broiled together with veggies, on a brioche bun, with lots aioli.  So, I am sharing this with you and I’m telling you, GO MAKE THIS NOW. And then over the course of the week, tell me how else you used your aioli!

rosemarysaffronaioli

Rosemary Saffron Aioli

Recipe adapted from Ina Garten’s “Fingerling Potatoes and Aioli,” by Stephanie Kunstle

Notes: With regards to Ina’s recipe, I obviously added rosemary, and doubled the lemon zest, and used much less olive oil…. Love Ina, but I think this is the flavor and texture you want to complete your aioli happiness. If you want to replicate this sandwich, I used 6 0z. salmon filets, rubbed in olive oil and salted, then broiled on high about 6 inches from the broiler for 5 minutes. I also broiled zucchini sliced thick (about 1/2 inch) and sliced red onion for about 7-8 minutes (both tossed beforehand in olive oil and salt). Just put them all on a big baking sheet, and pull the salmon out at 5 minutes and continue the veggies for a bit longer, checking to make sure they don’t burn to a crisp!

Ingredients:

  • 1 mounded cup of torn white bread pieces, crust removed (great use for a day or several day old boule)
  • 2 Tbsp. Champagne or white wine vinegar (I’ve used Cava and Sauternes vinegars)
  • 6 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2-3 sprigs rosemary leaves, roughly chopped (about 1 and 1/2 Tbsp after chopping)
  • 1/2 tsp. saffron threads
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon zest
  • 3 Tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 heaping Tbsp. labneh, or if you can’t find labneh, try substituting a plain, whole milk Greek yogurt (it must be a strained yogurt, like Greek yogurt, or it will have too much liquid)
  • 1 and 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper (I just do 8 cracks on the pepper mill and call it good)
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil

Preparation:

  1. Tear the bread into small pieces, place in a small bowl, and pour the vinegar over it. Let stand for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the garlic, rosemary, saffron, lemon zest, lemon juice, Labneh, salt and pepper into the bowl of a food processor (I use a mini-prep size, but if you have a big processor, use the smallest bowl available). Add the bread that has been soaked for 5 minutes, and puree into a paste. Pour in the extra virgin olive oil and process until the aioli is smooth has the consistency of a thick sour cream.
  3. Now…. use this as a spread or dip for just about anything! Ok, maybe not for chocolate chip cookies, but you hear me. And then, would you please-o-please-o leave a comment about what you did with it? I have so many sneaky readers, but I love hearing your cooking stories, so share if you have a moment. Thanks, friends!

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Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

This is a recipe I’ve been making for years. Something my aunt shared from an old Better Homes & Gardens magazine long ago. It’s my favorite chocolate cake. Period. I love it for its simplicity, its texture, and its versatility. I create a new version of this cake anytime I want by adding a sprinkling of something into the batter, or on top of the cake before baking, or drizzling or dusting or frosting after baking. The recipe is for just one layer, which often is quickly baked in my kitchen for a snack. Yes, I said snack. It’s not loaded with butter, and on the scale of sweet treats, it’s not very sweet or rich, and it’s practically a health food what with all the olive oil, right? I think eating this can actually make you live longer…at least, I’m going to find out. It can also be doubled or tripled. Need a three layer cake (I sometimes do)? Just triple the recipe, triple the cake pans, and you’re there.

So, I’m finally sharing this gem. A sweet friend had a birthday recently, and I decided she must have cake! I was in the mood to do something a little unexpected, so I scattered a small handful of cocoa nibs over the top and a tiny bit of Maldon sea salt. Everyone was gone for the day, so I was able to actually bake two, send one off with my friend and take a photo of this one before it was devoured (which is why it has taken so long to post — these hungry people in my house eat everything before I get a photo!). Craving chocolate cake yet? Good. In about 45 minutes, start to finish, you can have one hot out of the oven.

DarkChocolateOliveOilCake

Dark Chocolate Olive Oil Cake

“One-Bowl Chocolate Cake” recipe from Better Homes & Gardens, April 2004: “Healing, Giving, Baking”, adapted by Stephanie Kunstle and renamed in honor of adaptation (and because I hate dull names)

Note: If you’re at high altitude, pay attention to my adjustments to the baking soda and baking powder. Because the soda is the main leavening agent, if you use the full amount, it will rise too much and too fast and then crash under the weight of this insane atmospheric pressure and you’ll end up with a sad little well in the center of your cake (and if this happens, throw a scoop of ice-cream into the well and say you did it on purpose — tips from an expert).

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 good quality unsweetened cocoa powder (I usually use a nice Dutch process Belgian cocoa, but a natural cocoa is also delicious)
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda (if you’re at high altitude, measure it and shake a bit out…so you are using a scant 1/2 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. baking powder (again, if at high altitude, use a scant 1/4 tsp.)
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3/4 cup milk (2% or whole)
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • OPTIONAL: a cup of dark chocolate chips to fold into batter, a small handful of cocoa nibs, a little sea salt (about 1/2 tsp), or roasted nuts to scatter over the batter in the pan just before baking, powdered sugar or just cocoa powder for dusting after baking and just before serving, or a powdered sugar and citrus glaze to drizzle, or your favorite buttercream or cream cheese frosting.

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Butter and lightly dust a (9″ x 1.5″ OR 8″x 8″x 2″) cake pan with cocoa powder.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, combine flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Whisk to combine well. Add milk, olive oil, and vanilla. Beat with whisk attachment on medium-low speed until just combined, then beat on high for 2 minutes. Add the egg, and beat on high for another 2 minutes. If you want to add dark chocolate chips or chunks, fold those in now. Pour batter into prepared cake pan. If you want to scatter good things on top of your batter, do that now.
  3. Bake for about 30-35 minutes until a wooden toothpick comes out clean (I start checking it around 25 minutes). Cool cake on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove cake from pan by inverting onto rack, then invert onto your hand, and slide it right side up onto the rack (this avoids those mean rack lines on the top of your cake). Cool thoroughly on the rack.
  4. To serve, dust with a bit of powdered sugar (I put mine in a sieve and shake it over the top) or do the same with cocoa powder. Or if it pleases you, go big and drizzle with a nice glaze or frost away (and layer if you have more than one). Enjoy!

 

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