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  • Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones

    The holidays are here! FTW? How did this happen so quickly? It seems like only yesterday, I was arriving in California to start my adventure in chocolate. Time flies. 2017 has flew by. So many ups and downs and in betweens! My most recent notable experience was a close interation with the Oakland Police Department, since my car got jacked (i.e. stolen). In the end, it was a pretty amazing experience, and I now know that generous and kind people are all around-yes, even in Oakland! It is not that as I doubted that, but, perhaps it just really struck a chord with me since this was my first "oh shit..." experience since moving from Wisconsin (long story short: my car was stolen, and some awesome people called it in when it rolled up to their house). 

    Speaking of in-betweens, I have always wondered the difference between a scone and a biscuit (yup, just went from car theft to baking-see how I did that?). I am certian that if I were brought up in the south, or accross the pond, I would have a more firm stance on this. But I don't, seeing that I am a Wisconsin girl, through and through.But what I DO know is that fresh and tart cranberries (preferrably from WI!), creamy butter (Clover has been my go-to since moving to CA), crunchy walnuts (from CA!) and sweet meyer lemon zest (duh, from CA!) are bound to get along in what I think is a scone. According to the internets, scones are sweeter, have a tighter crumb, and may or may not contain egg. And I guess that biscuits are not to have little bits of nuts, dried fruit, fresh fruit, or really anything "chunky". The more ya know...Carry on, I say! (or, Forward! The motto of my motherland). The base of these is a little different from my rhubarb and buckwheat scones, with the inclusion of eggs, and the fact that this recipe yields roughly twice as many scones. The eggs add more adhesion to the dough, and give the crumb a more delicate texture (i.e. they are less crumbly/rubbly than scones sans-eggs) with more of a lift. I initially was going to omit the eggs, but stumbled on this useful page from King Arthur. But never fear, if you wish to omit the eggs, you can follow the template for the rhubarb and buckwheat scones and sub-in whichever flours you would like, with other add-ins like fresh cranberries and walnuts (but note, I have not specifically tested other combinations...let me know if you do in the comments!).Side note: for you vegans out there, I see that Dana has provided a wonderful vegan scone recipe that is quite close to the King Arthur template, but utilizes luxurious virgin coconut oil and nutritious flax egg! 

    These scones are...festive...speckled with all those dark tart red cranberries, studded with toasted walnuts, and so amazingly fragrant with meyer lemon zest, which is encouraged to release all of the essential oil power by rubbing the sugar with the zest. I encourage you to not skip brushing these with cream/milk, and sprinkling with crunchy demerara sugar; the sweet crust that forms on top is such a perfect compliment to the tart, zingy cranberries.And one last note (becuase as you all notice, I am all about the notes, especially ones that allow flexibility in our lives): one of amazing thing about scones is that you can make them ahead of time, freeze them, and bake them off fresh when you wish straight from the freezer. So...really...this makes an ideal holiday morning treat. Or afternoon tea-time treat. Or coffee snack. Whatever. They are especially delicious drizzled generously with honey (to counter those tart, beautiful cranberries), still warm from the oven. Go full authentic and eat with clotted cream (or maybe some greek yogurt?). Best the day they are baked, but revived with a quick heat in the oven the next day, I hope you enjoy these and have an amazing holiday season!



    Meyer Lemon, Fresh Cranberry & Walnut Scones // Makes 8 very large scones or 16 small scones or quite possibly 12 mediums scones // 

    • 1 ½ cups (140 g) fresh cranberries (or frozen), either chopped by hand or in a food processor into medium sized pieces
    • 1 1/2 cups toasted walnuts, crushed into small-ish pieces
    • 1/4 cup sugar
    • zest of 2 meyer lemons (or substitute 1 regular lemon and 1 orange)
    • 1 3/4 cup all purpose flour (210g)
    • 1 cup finely milled whole wheat flour flour (113g)
    • 1 TB baking powder (12g)
    • 3/4 tsp sea salt (3g)
    • Freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 stick (8 TB) butter, cut into small-ish chunks, very cold (straight from fridge)
    • 1/2 cup plant-based milk or cream/moo milk, plus 1 TB for brushing tops
    • 2 eggs

    To Finish:

    • 4 tsp demerara sugar, or coconut sugar, for sprinkling on top of scones
    1. Measure the sugar in large bowl, and zest citrus on top of sugar. Rub the sugar and zest together until fragrant and incorporated.

    2. Sift flour, baking powder, salt, and nutmeg over the lemon zest sugar in the large bowl. Mix everything together thoroughly with a fork. 

    3. Cut butter in using pastry cutter or the fork, or, use your fingers. Butter chunks should be about the size of peas and dimes, with some a little larger and a little smaller. Using your hands at the very end to rub the butter between your fingers and thumbs to create sheets of butter to form flatter pieces of butter that will create layers and lift when baked. Work quickly to not melt the butter with the heat of your hands. 

    4. Stir in the almond milk/egg mixture, mix for a few stirs, then add the cranberries and walnuts. With a spatula, mix briefly, but confidently, until mostly no dry patches remain (but a rough, shaggy texture with dry-ish spots here and there is perfect!). Turn out onto a lightly floured board, gather the dough, divide in roughly have and stack the pieces, repeating this once more for optimum layering of butter for flakiness. Divide in half, and form each half into a 6” diameter disc that is 1.5” thick. 

    5. Cut each half into 4 triangles for huge scones, or 8 triangles for smaller scones, or even 6 triangles for medium-ish scones (if cutting the discs into 8 each, they will be small-but don't worry, they rise and puff), and place on a lined sheet tray. Freeze for 30-45 minutes (or, freeze all the way, wrap individually once firm, place in a bag or container and bake off as directed when desired).

    6. Preheat oven to 425F. When heated, take scones from freezer, brush with cream or milk, and sprinkle each with ½ tsp (or a generous pinch!) of demerara sugar.

    7. Bake for 20-25 minutes until golden and fragrant. Frozen scones may need a minute or two more. Allow to cool for 5-10 minutes, then enjoy! These are best fresh, but baked scones can be freshed in a hot oven (350F) for a fe minutes. Cheers!



    Fragrant meyer lemon zest is rubbed into sugar...the best type of aroma therapy in the kitchen! Chopped cranberries (either fresh or frozen work here, I used frozen, and chopped them in the food processor). The color is so damn festive!Walnuts, a natural pair with cranberry!Alright. You've measured/weighted and sifted, now to cut in the butter. Using your fingers, working quickly, is encouraged. Flat, larger pieces will produce puffy, layered scones. Then, we confidently and quickly stir in the milk and egg mixture. The key phrase for scones: hot shaggy mess. Literally. This will look like a goddamn nightmare, but never fear: the shaggier, the more "undermixed", the lighter the scone. Seriously. You cannot go wrong. In goes the rubble of cranberry and walnuts! A quick stir and fold of sorts with a spatula to get it all in there...still a shaggy hot mess...you're doing great...you just gotta trust your inner baker here. Alright. The scone batter gets a quick pat down. Sliced. You got it...if you're feeling greedy, cut into larger triangles. If you're feeling more petite.......then cut each disc into 8 triangles. I guess you try cutting each disc into 6, and settle in the middle...whatever you want!The chunks! The butter! The love! Ahh. You nailed it!Get these ruby-speckled babies into the freezer. Clean up your mess. Make a coffee. Maybe just admire one more time how just kinda cute these little dudes are...Love it. Ok, carry on. Get your oven preheated. Brush with milk or cream. Sprinkle with demerara sugar. Bake bake bake...coffee coffee coffee....(or tea? I dunno..whatever you want!)...Just enjoy! Share, repeat. Happiest baking to you all!

  • Citrus & Basil White Sangria

    Have you been eyeing those bottles of pre-made sangria at your local store? Well, I am here to save you. Don't do it. Seriously, just walk away. It is never as good as you think it will be, and is likely full of sugar...not that you're looking for a health beverage when sipping the 'gria, but if you're going to treat yourself, at least do it with quality ingredients!

    This week, I proclaimed that I needed to take part in more summery activities, despite being busy at school. A picnic dinner was in order!! I made an effort to prep extra pesto and tomato pasta the night before (still loving the gluten-free pasta from Trader Joe's!), using CSA basil and some homegrown tomatoes. And, to make it super special, (drum role!) sangria to sip on while enjoying the evening. Needless to say, I was impressed with myself, considering the past 2 weeks have been super busy and quite stressful at school (read: a major impetus for making this white sangria was the fact that I may or may not have left a bottle of pinot in my freezer, thus renduring the cork to almost explode out of the bottle, leaving my freezer a wine-y, sticky mess; I think mostly frozen white wine is the perfect occasion to make this sangria, and laugh at the crappy last week you had while sipping on the repurposed wine). PS: those are basil flowers floating on top of the 'gria. They are super fragrant and of course, totally edible.

    This sangria is a bit lighter than the traditional red sangria. It has a heavy note of citrus, is fortified with white wine and brandy (or cognac, which is all I had on hand; feel free to use either, or even triple sec if you have it), and is then elevated to a summery level with a basil simple syrup. I have seen recipes that call for various fresh fruit and berries (peaches! raspberries! strawberries!), so add those as you would like. Seriously, who ever complained about boozy-wine marinated fruit on a hot summer evening? If you don't have basil, you can omit it. Mint could be a sub, but it may combat the brandy/cognac flavor...if you try the mint, let me know how it goes! If you'd like to take the sangria to a lighter level, consider topping off glasses of this with sparkling water or ginger beer. Either way, cheers to summer-get out there and enjoy it while it lasts! 

    PS: not a fan of white wine? Or prefer the more traiditional red sangria? Check out this recipe at Minimalist Baker! I may have to make this one for the weekend ahead...!



    Citrus and Basil White Sangria // plant-based; vegan; refined sugar-free; nut-free; oil-free; gluten-free // makes five 8 oz. cups, enough for 2-3 people to share //

    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4-1/2 cup agave, honey or coconut nectar (I used 1/4 to keep it not too sweet; you can use sugar in a pinch)
    • 10-12 large basil leaves
    • 1 bottle white wine (I used Italian Pinot Grigio)
    • 3 oranges or similar cirtus, or 6 clemintines, cut into thin slices 
    • 1/2 grapefruit, cut into thin half moon slices (I used an organic white grapefruit)
    • 1 lemon, yellow skin peeled into 1" wide strips (I got about 6 strips)
    • 1/4 cup brandy or cognac 
    • 1/4-1/2 cup orange juice (I used freshly squeezed, but quality bottled juice works too)
    • optional: sparkling water or ginger beer; fresh berries or peach slices, or other fruit desired; additional basil leaves and flowers.

    1. combine the water, sweetener, halve the lemon strips, and basil in a small pan. Heat to a gentle simmer (if using sugar, be sure it is all dissolved).  Off the heat, and steep for 10-20 minutes. You may do this up to 1 day ahead, and simply place the basil infusion into the fridge in a covered container or jar. 

    2. In a large jar or other container that will hold ~5 cups, combine all the ingredients, other than the sparkling water or ginger beer if using, and any berries/fruit you want to garnish with.

    3. Allow the sangria to steep for at least 20 minutes, up to overnight. Pour into glasses, topping off with sparking water or ginger beer, and garnishing with additonal fresh fruit if desired. The sangria can sit in the fridge in a glass container with a lid for a few days while you enjoy it, or can even be made several days ahead. Enjoy!



    All the stuff!

    The citrus. I love the colors!!

    My super tiny and cute 8 oz. copper pot with the basil, water, sweetener (I used coconut nectar) and lemon peel. Why? Because this is a great excuse to use such a tiny pot, and because my Dad got it for me for christmas last year...so there!

    The finished sangria! This was 24 hours after I prepped it. The flavors steeped, the fruit got boozy, and I got increasingly excited about drinking this as the day progressed. Totally easy and worth it! Cheers!

    Refreshing, slightly boozy, a little herbal from the basil, and a bit tart from the grapefruit. Of course, I sprinkled some basil flowers on top...cause why not?

    Cheers to summer!