Buckwheat, Blackberry and Saffron Drop Scones #BreadBakers

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These buckwheat, blackberry and saffron drop scones (that would be pancakes to those of us on the left side of the Atlantic) are ridiculously good. Fluffy little morsels with tangy bursts of berries and a hint of saffron and honey. And if this post had a theme song, it would be the brilliant Tom Lehrer's "Masochism Tango." Because I'm totally torturing myself with them right now. Lest you think I'm into weird stuff and run away, let me reassure you… No, as good as these babies are, I chose this month to do the Whole30, which, if you haven't heard of it, is a food "reset" thingy where food groups like legumes and dairy and grains and alcohol and sugar and ACK! gluten are verboten for 30 days, and that means I. Can't. Eat. Them. Nice timing. Could I have signed up in January (it's a big thing in January because resolutions) along with the rest of the world? No. I have to be a rebel. So there they are, looking unbearably delicious, staring at me, tempting me, mocking me. Yes, torturing me. But I'm hanging in. That which does not kill us makes us stronger. Bleh. 

Pancakes are the theme for this month's #BreadBakers challenge, chosen by Mayuri of Mayuri’s Jikoni, who, I'm pretty sure, chose it just to taunt me. (I kid, Mayuri. Honest.) I could easily have bagged it, but A. I have a habit of continuing to bake and cook when I can't eat (ask me about the time I hosted three dinner parties back in the 80s while I was on that stupid liquid diet), and 2. I've baked these many times and they're just too good not to share. 

Pancakes are the perfect food for those of us with the attention span of a flea and/or instant gratification issues because, for the most part, you can be stuffing your face in under half an hour. Plus, you can make them as large or small as you want without messing things up like you can if you don't have the right size cake pan or whatnot. And the big bonus if you make them small, like I do? Smaller means you can eat more because they have fewer calories. Right? Right. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Alternative facts and all.

I'm telling you that you need to make these RIGHT NOW. (Unless, of course, you're an obsessive twit like I am and need to order special ingredients from overseas first—see below.) I guarantee you'll thank me. All I ask in return is that you send some "atta girl!" thoughts my tortured Whole30-ish way. At least until next month when I can once again revel in glutenous gluttony and face plant into a giant plate of these pancakes.

Buckwheat, blackberry and saffron drop scones

Ingredients

  • 100g white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour
  • 75g buckwheat flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 40g golden caster sugar or granulated sugar
  • Pinch fine sea salt
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of saffron strands
  • 100ml / 3.5 oz. milk
  • 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp clear honey
  • 1-2 handfuls ripe blackberries (depending on size), slightly crushed.
  • 2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted

Directions

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the egg, milk, honey, vanilla and saffron. 
  2. Add the flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt to a large mixing bowl and whisk to combine. 
  3. Pour in the liquid mixture and whisk together, then add in the blackberries and stir.
  4. Pour in the melted butter (should still be hot) and again, stir to combine.
  5. Heat an electric griddle to 350°F or a skillet over medium heat, then drop the batter onto the griddle (I used a medium cookie scoop), flatten a bit if needed, cook for about 2 minutes, then flip over and cook for 2 minutes more. (The batter should not have any wet spots.)
  6. Serve warm with butter and honey or jam.

Adapted from Delicious Magazine

Notes

The original recipe used only all-purpose flour but I started messing around with it, first using half whole wheat, then all whole wheat and so on. I thought about using buckwheat flour one day when I only had buckwheat honey in the cupboard and thought I'd give both a try. I liked the combination so much I've been making them that way ever since, ending up with this mix of buckwheat and white whole wheat. It's a great little recipe for experimenting with different flours and fruit.

The original recipe also called for golden caster sugar, which has a slight caramel-y flavor and isn't really a thing in the US. You can easily substitute regular granulated sugar with no problem. Unless you're like me and you HAVE to have every impossible-to-find weird ingredient. I ordered the real thing and it took so long to get to me that I forgot why I ordered it in the first place. Do not be like me.

I used a medium cookie scoop to portion out the batter but you can make them any size you like.

#BreadBakers February: Pancakes

Check out the Pancakes from different parts of the world that our fellow Bread Bakers have baked this month:

#BreadBakers is a group of bread loving bakers who get together once a month to bake bread with a common ingredient or theme. You can see all our of lovely bread by following our Pinterest board. Links are also updated after each event on the #BreadBakers home page

We take turns hosting each month and choosing the theme/ingredient. If you are a food blogger and would like to join us, just send Stacy an email with your blog URL to foodlustpeoplelove@gmail.com.

Pistachio, Rosewater and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

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These pistachio, rosewater and cardamom shortbread cookies…aren't half bad. Now you're probably thinking that "not half bad" isn't exactly a ringing endorsement but you've got to consider the source. Which would be me. A lifelong hater of all things nut and a person who would rather be stuck in a sulphur pit than a subway car full of women who've doused themselves in rose perfume. So when I say that cookies with nuts and rosewater aren't half bad, it translates to "OMG! ARE THESE, LIKE, THE BEST COOKIES EVAR, OR WHAT?" 

I've harbored a major hate for nuts my entire life—it's both a taste and a texture thing. I can pick out a nut blindfolded, they'll seriously ruin whatever it is I'm eating and yes, even at my advanced age, I'll make a face and spit 'em out. But let's face it, the world isn't kind to the nut averse. They're EVERYwhere. In EVERYthing.  So at least once a year, I'll make an attempt to get over my aversion. And after decades of trying, I've gotten to the point where I can just barely tolerate pistachios and cashews and that's it. I'll occasionally eat them out of hand but still can't eat them mixed into food. So of course, when the theme for this month's Creative Cookie Exchange was Nuts in Cookies (I knew it had to come sometime), and we had the option of NOT baking with nuts, I went ahead and baked with them anyway. Glutton for punishment, that's me. Especially when cookies are also made with rosewater.

Oppressively heavy floral scents are another of my (many) dislikes, with rose at the top of the list. I know that when used with a clunky hand, rose essence in food can be gag-inducing but when used sparingly, it was a bit of a revelation to me. It's not heavy or overly floral at all. In fact, I'd describe the flavor as citrus-y and I've actually become a fan. So in searching for a nutty cookie when I came upon these, I figured the rosewater and cardamom—and the crunch of a good shortbread, probably my favorite cookie—could help disguise the pistachios. And they did. Almost. 

Since I know I'm biased, I brought a big batch of these to work so they could be scrutinized by the Official Shaggy Dough Taste Testing Team and they were an unqualified hit. Everyone loved the shortbread texture and the flavors (pistachio, rose and cardamom are a very Persian combo and these cookies were originally inspired by Nowruz, the Iranian new year). Three dozen cookies barely lasted til lunchtime. And dare I say that when I made the second batch over the weekend, someone who will remain nameless (moi, but I'll deny it) was seen nibbling on more than one. So yeah, not half bad.

Be sure to check out the links below to see what the nut-loving Creative Cookie Exchange bakers came up with.

Pistachio, Rosewater and Cardamom Shortbread Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup confectioner's (powdered) sugar
  • 1 tsp rosewater
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom, preferably freshly ground
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup salted, shelled pistachios, coarsely chopped (see notes)
  • sparkling sugar (optional)

Directions

  1. Add the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream at medium speed for about one minute.
  2. Add the sugar, rosewater and cardamom and mix on low speed. As soon as the ingredients come together, increase speed to medium and mix for 3 minutes. The mixture should be light and fluffy.
  3. Add in the flour and mix on low until just incorporated. The dough will look a little crumbly but don't overmix.
  4. Add the pistachios and again, mix on low until just incorporated.
  5. Divide the dough onto two sheets of parchment or wax paper and form each half into a log, about 12" long. (See notes) Roll up the paper and twist the ends closed.
  6. Chill for 1–2 hours or until completely firm.
  7. Preheat oven to 325°F.
  8. When ready to bake, slice each log into 1/4" pieces and place about 1" apart on cookie sheets lined with parchment or silicone mats.
  9. Bake for 18–20 minutes or until the edges are just slightly golden brown. Cool on a wire rack.
  10. Optional: Before slicing roll each log in sparkling sugar.

Notes

The first time I baked these, I used pre-shelled pistachios. The second time, I shelled them myself. I thought there was a big difference, both in taste and appearance. The ones I shelled were larger, had a fresher, more pronounced taste and looked more…pistachio-y. (They were greener.) It was a time-consuming pain in the butt to shell them all—and I sent more than a few of them flying, much to the delight of the dog (we didn't let her eat them)—but I think it was worth it.

I also divided the dough in two the first time and ended up with cookies that I thought were a little small in diameter. I got a little more than 3 dozen cookies. The second time, I made one log about 2" in diameter and ended up with about 2 dozen. It's really just a personal preference but I just like larger cookies. There was no difference in the baking time since the cookies were still 1/4" thick.

I have a method of rolling cookie logs that I was struggling to describe so I looked online to see if I could find a video. This one from Martha Stewart is a good 'un. It's a great method and it really does help your cookies stay round. 

Even a nut hater needs a nut grinder. Just because.

Recipe source: The Pomegranate Diaries

#CreativeCookieExchange for December: Nuts in Cookies

Nuts in cookies are a tradition celebrated all over the world—and Creative Cookie Exchange has joined the party!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made:

Caramelized Apple Oatmeal Cookies #CreativeCookieExchange

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Way back in the early 70s, my parents' friends invited the whole lot of us to spend a long weekend skiing at their house in Vermont. We were novice skiers (How novice you ask? I-broke-my-wrist-during-a-lesson kind of novice.) but we had a blast. So my parents did what any parents would do when the family has fun at a brand new pursuit. They bought a house in Vermont so we could ski our little hearts out. A house. After skiing one time. Now I'll admit it was a great house (and dirt cheap, I might add). 100 years old on two acres in a quintessential New England town (they still had actual live, human telephone operators when we first moved there and a cemetery dating back pre-Revolutionary War), in the southwestern part of the state, near Killington and a bunch of other ski resorts…but then the year following the purchase, we all went skiing in Colorado, got spoiled (it's just DIFFERENT, people)… and never skied in Vermont again. The house didn't go to waste though. We just did different stuff. We gardened (my mother actually thought that zucchini was SUPPOSED to be as big as your arm), we hiked and biked, we went boating on Lake St. Catherine (have I got stories…) and we spent a ridiculous amount of time sitting on the front porch watching the goings-on at the firehouse hall, which was the happening place in town. And in the fall, when we got to experience leafing season in all its glory, we went apple picking at the orchard down the road.

We always came home with enough apples to feed an army and almost no idea what to do with them all besides make applesauce. Lots and LOTS of applesauce. And an occasional pie. Ah, if only we'd known about these cookies. Okay, it would only have made a small dent in the apple surplus, but still…

It doesn't get much better than this caramelized apple oatmeal cookie. Dense, hearty and chewy. Subtly spiced. Studded with bits of tangy apple that have been caramelized in butter and sugar. Drizzled with just the right amount of sugary glaze. The Ultimate Fall Cookie. It's the kind of cookie that would have had us working together in the Vermont kitchen, then curling up before the wood-burning stove, wrapped in our blankies after a hard day of not skiing, hands wrapped around mugs of hot cider, miffling down cookie after cookie… If only we'd known. The house is gone, sold years ago when the long drive got to be too much for all us, but cookies like this are forever. At least until you eat them all.

This trip down memory lane has been brought to you by the fine bakers at #CreativeCookieExchange, who are Celebrating Autumn this month. Don't forget to check out the links below for more of fall's bounty!

Caramelized Apple Oatmeal Cookies

Ingredients

Apples

  • 2 cups Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
  • 2 tsp unsalted butter
  • 4 tsp light brown sugar

Dough

  • 1-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 cups old-fashioned rolled oats

Glaze

  • 1 cup confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbsp apple cider

Directions

  1.  To caramelize the apples, place the butter, brown sugar and diced apples in a medium skillet and cook on medium-high, stirring occasionally. Continue cooking and stirring until the apples are golden and somewhat softened. Transfer to paper towels and let cool.
  2. To make the dough, add the flour, cinnamon, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl and whisk to combine.
  3. The the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the butter and sugars and beat on medium-high for about 3 minutes. The mixture will be pale and fluffy.
  4. Add the eggs separately, mixing until each is fully blended. Mix for an additional minute, then add the vanilla.
  5. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture and blend until just combined then add the oats and mix.
  6. Fold in the caramelized apples.
  7. Cover and chill the dough for at least 1 hour.
  8. Towards the end of the chilling time, preheat oven to 350°F and line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.
  9. Using a medium cookie scoop, place the dough on the baking sheets about 2" apart.
  10. Bake for 12–15 minutes until edges are slightly browned. Cookies should still be soft in the middle. Remove from oven, cool on baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely
  11. To make the glaze, place the sugar in a medium size bowl, add the cider and whisk to combine thoroughly. Add more cider if needed to make a drizzling consistency and drizzle over cookies.
  12. Allow glaze to harden. Store in an airtight container.

Recipe source: Liv for Cake

Notes

I used Granny Smiths but you could also use any good baking apple.

The apples will release a lot of moisture, but once it's cooked out, they'll start to caramelize.

I used apple cider in the glaze but water is fine if you don't have any cider on hand.

I'm a very bad drizzler—big globs here, nothing there—so instead of winging it, I like to use a piping bag for better control.

#CreativeCookieExchange for October: Celebrate Autumn

One of the best things about fall—in addition to crisp, cool weather and gorgeous foliage (still waiting…)—is all of the delightful seasonal themes that come to mind for baking. Pumpkin, apples, late summer and early fall harvest, Halloween, Thanksgiving… They are all fun and delicious to play around with, so check out what we have for you this month!

You can also use us as a great resource for cookie recipes. Be sure to check out our Pinterest Board and our monthly posts (you can find all of them here at The Spiced Life). You will be able to find them the first Tuesday after the 15th of each month! Also, if you are looking for inspiration to get in the kitchen and start baking, check out what all of the hosting bloggers have made: