Shrimp & Broccoli ‘Hobo’ Packs

HAPPY LABOR DAY!

Once again, the last long weekend of summer has arrived. Here in Canada, families with school age children, take it as the last chance to travel before the end of summer. Others enjoy the company of family and friends at barbecues, picnics, fairs, festivals and fireworks displays. Canadian football fans may spend a large portion of their weekend watching the Labor Day Classic matches live on television. Whatever your choice of relaxation is, you know good food will be a part of the holiday.

If you’re barbecuing, some hobo packs might just be perfect. Each packet can be prepared individually or collectively so even the pickiest eater can be accommodated. If the weather doesn’t cooperate with outdoor cooking, you can always cook indoors in your oven & there’s minimal clean-up afterward either way.

Essentially a ‘hobo’ pack is a bundle of cut-up ingredients wrapped up in foil and cooked over the coals of a campfire.

Although, foil pack meals seem like the new summer go-to dinner, creative cooks were making these long before they became trendy. Depending on your eating habits, taste preferences and ingredients on hand, you can make any combination of flavors.

During the depression, many people were homeless and lived in encampments. They were known as Hobos.  Whatever food they could find, whether it was wild caught, wild grown, in the trash, or given from a neighbor, they would cook all the food over the fire.  Because they were hungry, they would use even the peelings of vegetables that others would throw away.  Being resourceful was their survival.  I am sure that is where we get the term ‘Hobo Dinner’, because it is comprised of simple ingredients that are cooked together.

Whether you call them meals in foil, zip packs, hobo bundles, or some other name, meals in foil are easy and unmessy, camp-style cooking in your own backyard (or kitchen).

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Baked Shrimp & Broccoli 'Hobo' Packs
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F.
  2. Cut 2 sheets of 14 by 12-inch (35 x 30 cm) heavy-duty aluminum foil then lay each piece separately on the countertop. In a small bowl, combine the ingredients for the spice mix: Italian seasoning, onion powder, salt, pepper, & smoked paprika & powdered vegetable or chicken stock.
  3. In a shallow plate, add shrimp; sprinkle with the spice mix, coating on all sides. Divide shrimp onto the aluminum foil near the center then place broccoli florets to one side of the shrimp.
  4. Add garlic over broccoli & shrimp, then sprinkle with lemon juice, red crushed chili pepper flakes (if using) and finish with salt and pepper. Divide butter pieces evenly among the shrimp foil packets, layering them over the shrimp & broccoli.
  5. Add a tablespoon of vegetable stock in each foil packet & wrap packets in; crimp edges together then wrap ends up. Don’t wrap too tight – keep a little extra space inside for heat to circulate.
  6. Transfer to a baking sheet & bake shrimp foil packets in the oven, sealed side upward until shrimps have cooked through, about 15 minutes.
  7. Carefully unwrap the baked shrimp & broccoli foil packets then garnish with fresh parsley and a slice of lemon.
Recipe Notes
  • Brion & I found some roasted cherry tomatoes were especially good with this meal. After drizzling the tomatoes with Golden Italian Dressing, I roasted them on their own  in the same oven as the hobo packs were baking.

Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake

The name ‘pound cake‘ comes from the fact that the original pound cake contained one pound each butter, sugar, eggs and flour. Originally, no leaveners were used in the cake except for the air whipped into the batter. It was only in the 1900’s that artificial leaveners like baking soda and baking powder were added to reduce the density of the cake. Other variations include the addition of flavoring extracts like vanilla and almond or dried fruits such as cranberries or currants. At times, some or all of the butter was substituted by a cooking or vegetable oil to obtain a moist cake.

One of the most popular variations is the sour cream pound cake. The butter is substituted by sour cream to moisten the cake and also get a tinge of a tangy flavor. Despite all these variations which alter the characteristics and the flavor of the cake drastically, the name pound cake is still used today.

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Raspberry Swirl Pound Cake
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Instructions
Cake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter or line pan of choice with parchment paper. (loaf pan or a Bundt pan)).
  2. In a bowl, cream butter & sugar with an electric mixer until pale & fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add salt, vanilla & sour cream.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together flour & baking powder. Combine wet & dry ingredients, then beat on low for about a minute.
  4. Transfer about 1/3 of batter to another bowl. Add raspberry preserves & beat until combined. Add 2-3 drops red gel food color if desired. To remaining batter, add lemon juice & beat until combined.
Assembly/Baking
  1. To preferred baking pan, add a layer of white batter then alternate between pink & white batter. Use a knife to swirl the batters together but don't overdo it or you will end up without a marble effect.
  2. Bake for 60-65 minutes or until a skewer inserted in center of cake comes out clean. If top browns too quickly, lightly cover with a piece of foil paper.
  3. Allow cake to cool in pan for 15 minutes, then remove pan & finishing cooling on a wire rack.
Frosting
  1. In a small bowl, beat cream cheese for about 20 seconds on medium speed. Add powdered sugar & mix to combine well. Drizzle frosting over cooled cake, slice & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • My choice of baking pans were some mini Bundt pans. I thought they made a nice individual presentation.

Parmesan Baked Scallops

Scallops are an exquisite delicacy brought to us by the sea. Subtle as their flavors may be, the combination of sweet, buttery and nutty always hits the right spot and makes them so addictive.

Sea scallops are widely known for their iconic, beautiful shape …. a fan-like shell with fluted grooves. Different varieties are found in oceans all over the world and come in many sizes. For commercial purposes they are labeled similar to shrimp. A number is used to designate how many scallops of a given size it would take to constitute a pound. The label 20/30 means it would take 20/30 scallops to make up a pound and labels like U10 means it would take less than (‘under’) 10 to make a pound.

Scallops are bivalve mollusks (meaning having 2 shells- usually united by a hinge) that have a reddish-pink, upper shell and white or cream colored, lower shell.

Wild scallops feed by filtering microscopic plankton from the water. They are hand shucked immediately and frozen at sea to capture their fresh sweet flavor.

Brion & I don’t have scallops often but when we do we enjoy them to the fullest.

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Parmesan Baked Scallops
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Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place 'scallop shells' on a baking pan.
  2. Rinse scallops & thoroughly pat dry on paper towels. Season with salt & pepper.
  3. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients for the compound butter. Mix well.
  4. Place 4 scallops on top of each shell dish. Divide butter into 4 portions & place one on each dish of scallops. Bake for about 8-10 minutes, depending on the size of scallops. Test at about the 6 minute mark. Try to avoid over baking as you will be broiling for a few minutes to finish.
  5. As scallops are baking, melt butter in microwave for the crunchy topping. Mix in the panko crumbs & fresh parsley.
  6. Remove the scallops from the oven. Turn on the broiler. Top each with a spoonful of the crunchy topping. Sprinkle with a bit more parmesan cheese. Broil for about 1 minute or 2, just enough to brown the topping & melt the cheese.
  7. Nice to serve with rice or pasta. Garnish with fresh parsley & serve with lemon wedges.

Strawberry Custard Tarts w/ Lemon Curd

The irresistible combination of strawberry and lemon is a taste most of us love to savor. This sweet and tart pairing isn’t reserved for strawberry lemonade served in a cup either. The flavor combination works wonders in cupcakes, sophisticated crepe cake, custard tarts, etc. etc. With the fact that we can readily buy strawberries year round, doesn’t make them any less special.

I’m not sure if you recall that fabulous glazed fresh strawberry pie from years ago …. so addicting! It consisted of a crisp crust filled only with fresh strawberries held together by a thickened fruit juice glaze. It was the quintessential summer dessert back in the day. A lady by the name of Claire Moore created this pie in 1954 in the USA. She shared the recipe with her husband, former ‘Eat’n Park‘ CEO Bob Moore, and the rest is history! This regional diner chain began during the days of the 1950’s car hops when everyone thought it was real cool to park and eat right in their hot rods. Today they’re a family restaurant and coffee shop chain still serving their signature fresh glazed strawberry pie.

To make a long story short, it was the memory of that dessert that made me think of doing these strawberry custard tarts for today’s blog.

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Strawberry Custard Tarts w/ Lemon Curd
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Course dessert
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Instructions
Lemon Curd
  1. In a medium sauce pan over low heat, whisk together butter, sugar, lemon juice, zest and salt until combined. Add eggs one at a time, whisking until fully mixed each time. Cook over low heat about 8-9 minutes, whisking frequently, until somewhat thickened. Remove from heat and cool completely. Chill in the fridge until ready to use.
Crust
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar and salt until fully combined. Add the cubed butter, and using either a pastry blender or two forks, cut the butter into the mixture until the pieces are around the size of a pea. Pour in the vanilla extract, and cold water. Stir until the dough clumps together.
  3. Move the dough to a floured surface and fold the dough into itself until the flour is incorporated (if it is too sticky, add some more flour to the surface or your hands) and forms a ball. Divide the dough into quarters and pat each one down into four discs, about ½ inch thick. Wrap in plastic and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes to an hour.
  4. Remove the dough from fridge. Roll it out into 5-inch circles on a lightly floured surface and use to line four 4-inch tart pans. Crimp the edges as desired.
  5. Prick the bottoms with a fork. Line the chilled dough crusts with parchment paper and fill each with baking beans. Bake for 10 minutes, then remove the paper and beans. Remove from heat and let them cool completely.
Filling & Assembly
  1. Whisk the eggs, sugar, and vanilla extract together and then stir in the honey yogurt. Place the strawberries on top of the cooled crusts. Pour the filling over the strawberries.
Baking
  1. Bake for 30-35 minutes, until crust is golden and custard filling is set. Cool for 5 minutes, drizzle with lemon curd, and serve.
Recipe Notes
  • There are numerous good quality lemon curds on the market if you would rather not make it from scratch since it is only used for drizzling.

Glazed Peach Coffeecake

Coffeecake as we know it today wasn’t so much a creation as it was an evolution, with many countries given as the potential origin point. It is generally accepted that coffeecake originated from northern or central Europe during the 17th century. At that time, coffee was still fairly new to Europe, having only made it to the continent in the previous century.

While the earliest coffeecakes included coffee as an ingredient, updated popular recipes recommend eating the cake with coffee and instead deriving flavor from nuts, dried fruit, oats, cinnamon and other spices. Another addition to coffeecakes has been to incorporate yogurt, cheese or sour cream in the batter to produce the cake-like texture which further deviates from its bread origins.

The countries laying some sort of claim to the coffeecake such as Germany, Austria and Denmark were already well versed in sweetened breads and cakes and found that their local sweet paired incredibly well with this new beverage. It became very commonplace in these countries to have a small sweet served alongside coffee.

When the coffeecake made its way to North America via German immigrants in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, bolstered by the creation of refrigerated sections in grocery stores, the addition of sour cream became more common place, both as a means of adding more moisture into the cake as well as activating the baking soda. Another modification to the coffeecake came with the popularity of the Bundt pan in the 1950s. With its ring-shaped design, the Bundt pan allowed bakers to drastically increase the moisture content in their cakes without having to worry about the center being uncooked.

Sometimes cake, sometimes bread, the only real defining trait of a ‘coffeecake‘ is that it is meant to be enjoyed with a cup of coffee.

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Glazed Peach Coffeecake
Since the recipe calls for canned peaches you can enjoy the taste of summer early.
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Course dessert
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Instructions
Peach Glaze
  1. Drain peach halves; set peaches aside. In a saucepan, combine sugar, cornstarch, salt, lemon juice & peach syrup. Bring to a boil then stir in butter & almond extract. Set aside.
Coffeecake
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 8-inch pie pan.
  2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder & salt. With a pastry blender, cut in cream cheese & shortening until mixture resembles coarse peas. Stir in milk & lemon zest. On a lightly floured work surface, knead dough gently & form into a log shape. Do not overwork dough. Divide into 12 slices.
  3. You will need 12 peach halves (or pieces). Alternating with dough rounds & peach halves or pieces, form a ring around the sides of the pie pan. Fit the last 3 pieces of dough & peach in the center.
  4. Bake cake for about 10-15 minutes then pour WARM peach glaze over the PARTIALLY BAKED cake & continue baking for another 45-50 minutes or until cake tests done. Serve warm as is or with ice cream or whipped cream.

Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze

Today, March 28th, our family honors the birth date of my mother. Over 40 years has gone by since her passing and she still is a never ending song in my heart …. sometimes I may forget the words but I always remember the tune. As children we think we are invincible, that nothing can harm us. Innocence is bliss and makes our childhood carefree and happy as it should be. Little do we know of the worry we cause our mothers as soon as we step out of the door.

I grew up in a time when we would sit down to supper with the entire family and relate our adventures of the day. So much has changed since then and I feel so fortunate to have experienced a time when life was much gentler.

As I’ve mentioned many times on the blog, my mother was an amazing ‘baker’. Although, my siblings & I just took her cooking and baking skills for granted then, I realize now just how amazing they were. If she ever had any ‘failures’, I sure can’t remember them. Yeast goods were her forte. She baked bread every week and there was always something special with one little piece of that dough such as a pan of cinnamon rolls etc.

I recall some raised potato doughnuts that my Dad called ‘spudnuts’. Potato bread or doughnuts are supposedly a creative way to use up leftover mashed potatoes. The truth of the matter is, it is the secret ingredient to incredible tasting, light & airy potato bread.

Spudnut Shops were North American, 1950’s franchised stores selling doughnuts made with potato flour called Spudnuts. The original recipe is based on a folk recipe that traces back to Germany. I’m presuming Germany calls them ‘fastnacht‘.

To make a long story short, when my mother made these potato doughnuts, they were to die for! So here’s my version of the taste of a memory.

BEAUTIFUL MEMORIES OF OUR DEAR MOTHER!

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Raised Potato Doughnuts w/ Blackberry Glaze
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Blackberry Glaze
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Dough
Blackberry Glaze
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Instructions
Dough
  1. In a small bowl, combine lukewarm milk, & 2 Tbsp of the sugar; stir until sugar is dissolved. Add in the yeast & allow to sit until frothy.
  2. In a large bowl, combine mashed potatoes, eggs, salt & butter. When yeast mixture is proofed, add to potato mixture, combining well.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together flour & remaining sugar. Combine with wet mixture until dough forms a ball. Knead on a work surface for about 10 minutes then place in a greased bowl.
  4. Cover with plastic wrap & a towel. Allow to rise in a draft-free place for about 1 1/2 hours or until doubled in size. Lightly butter a 12-hole doughnut pan; set aside.
  5. Punch down the dough & cut into 12 evenly sized pieces. Roll each piece into a strip long enough to fit around each doughnut hole mold. Lay them in the molds & pinch the ends together so the dough rounds are more or less even.
  6. Cover the tray with plastic wrap & a towel & allow to rise for about 30 minutes.
  7. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  8. Bake doughnuts for about 20-25 minutes. The bottom should only be slightly browned while the top is still pale as they will be a bit chewier then.
Blackberry Glaze
  1. While doughnuts are baking, place blackberries in a food processor & puree ; strain. Place in a small bowl & add lemon juice, vanilla & sifted powdered sugar. Combine until fully incorporated & no lumps remain.
Glazing
  1. When baked doughnuts a still slightly warm, drizzle glaze over them & allow glazed doughnuts to set about 20 minutes before serving.
Recipe Notes
  • I wanted to give my little doughnuts a bit of a fancier look today so I baked them in mini Bundt pans. Same great flavor wearing a new look!

Baked Salmon Balls w/ Orange Pineapple Glaze

Salmon croquettes are basically a version of a salmon cake, salmon balls or patties and can be fried or baked. They were originally made of beef, probably leftovers that needed to be used up. Croquettes originated in France in about 1898 by the founder of classical French cuisine, Escoffier. As Escoffier’s chefs started to travel throughout the world, they took the recipe with them to other cultures where it was transformed based on local cuisines. From the original beef croquette, it branched out into salmon croquettes, chicken, vegetarian, and many other versions.

There are many variations of ‘croquettes‘ on the market, and just about every culture has developed their own recipe. Constantly, new recipes are formulated and something new is invented and created. With the input of different cultures, the original recipe has taken itself into many directions, different applications and ingredients. Very often salmon croquettes (cakes, balls or patties) are made with canned salmon though there are quite a few newer recipes that use fresh salmon that has been either chopped finely or ground to mold into the various shapes.

I think, using a zesty orange-pineapple glaze is the perfect compliment to these baked salmon balls.

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Baked Salmon Balls w/ Orange Pineapple Glaze
Instructions
Salmon Balls
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. If using canned salmon, drain & flake well. If using fresh salmon, brush with olive oil and season lightly with salt and pepper. Grill for about 6 minutes or bake wrapped in foil at 350 F. for approximately 10 minutes. When cool, flake salmon. Add carrot, green onion, potatoes, tartar sauce, egg, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, cilantro paste, Old Bay Seasoning, salt & pepper. Combine well.
  3. Using a small scoop (about 1/2 oz size), measure salmon mixture out into palm of your hand & gently roll into balls. Mixture should make about 32 balls.
  4. Roll salmon balls in Panko crumbs & place on a well buttered or sprayed baking sheet. Lightly spray tops with spray as well.
  5. Bake about 30-40 minutes, turning halfway through. Remove from oven.
Glaze
  1. Place all glaze ingredients into a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir gently & simmer for 15-20 minutes or until liquid begins to thicken slightly & reduces by half.
  2. Drizzle over salmon balls or serve on the side. These salmon balls are nice served with rice & a steamed veggie.

Kiwi Curd Cupcakes

After the winter months with its cold weather, covid restrictions & lots of comfort food, hopefully spring is on the horizon. With it comes lighter baking options like lime and kiwi pastries, lemon slice and strawberry cake.

Although kiwi fruit is available year round, doesn’t make it less appealing. I realize the lack of interest in kiwi curd is probably due to the enzymes in this fruit not willing to play nice with gelatin.

As a recent curd-convert, I started to wonder what other fruits I could incorporate. I’ve made mango curd, passion fruit etc. but have never tried a kiwi curd. Today, I’m going to pursue it with a different idea and see what happens ?!

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Kiwi Curd Cupcakes
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Kiwi Curd Filling
Cupcake Batter
Course dessert
Cuisine American
Servings
Ingredients
Kiwi Curd Filling
Cupcake Batter
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Instructions
Kiwi Curd Filling
  1. Peel & chop kiwis. In a saucepan, combine kiwis, sugar & lemon juice. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring occasionally. Beat the egg yolks in a separate bowl. When kiwi mixture reaches a boil, very slowly add it to the egg yolks, whisking vigorously. Pour it back into the saucepan & allow to gently simmer about 8 minutes. The mixture should be thick enough to cover the spoon (it will thicken a little as it cools also). Remove mixture from heat & allow to cool until needed. If you wish, pulse curd in food processor for a couple of seconds.
Cupcakes
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour, oatmeal, sugars, baking soda, spices & salt.
  3. In another bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, eggs & extracts until smooth. Stir wet ingredients into dry mixture until combined.
  4. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove to a wire rack & allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  5. Top with about 1 Tbsp of the kiwi curd & serve.
Recipe Notes
  • This recipe will make about 18 mini cupcakes if you like smaller ones.

Caramilk Apple ‘Baskets’

The Caramilk chocolate bar is a Canadian creation that has been around since 1968. First produced at the Cadbury factory in Montreal then production moved to the Gladstone factory in Toronto in 1978 and has been made there ever since.

The general name for the candy confection is actually Cadbury Caramilk, but in the USA, this candy bar is more familiarly known as Caramello. The entire styling of the bar is different depending on where it is sold and this can lead to confusion that these are different candy bars when they are actually the same product. There are some variations in the recipe in different countries but the overall taste is remarkably similar.

There have been countless theories and debates about how Caramilk gets the soft flowing caramel inside the Caramilk bar. To date, it is still one of those Canadian enduring mysteries as Cadbury has guarded the Caramilk ‘secret’ for over 50 years.

These apple tart/baskets are certainly taken up a notch by simply adding a piece of Caramilk chocolate to the center. Who knew …. what’s old is new again!

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Caramilk Apple 'Baskets'
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Course dessert
Cuisine American
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Instructions
Pastry
  1. In a bowl, whisk together flour, sugar & salt. Add cold butter, vanilla & lemon zest. Cut into flour mixture with a pastry blender until dough starts to come together & form clumps. Divide 2/3 of pastry between 10 tart/muffin cups. Using fingertips, evenly press the dough into each cup. With remaining pastry, divide it into 10 balls & flatten each to form a top for each tart. Place pastry in refrigerator until filling is prepared.
Filling
  1. In a saucepan, whisk together 1 1/4 cups water, both sugars, spices, salt & lemon juice. Add the diced apples & simmer for 10-12 minutes to soften apples, stirring occasionally. Combine remaining 1/4 cup water with cornstarch & add to apple mixture; continuing to cook until thickened. Remove from heat & allow to cool.
Assembly/Baking
  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Place a Tbsp of apple filling in each tart shell. Divide the Caramilk bar into 10 pieces. Place one piece in the center of each tart. Divide remaining apple filling between the 10 tarts. Top each with a pastry round & bake for about 35 minutes or until golden.
  3. Serve inverted on a serving plate, either as is or with your choice of topping.

Mango Scones w/ Chambord Glaze

Scones are the quintessential, must be baked at home and eaten immediately foodstuff. Good scones are all about lightness and texture …. crumbly but a little moist, slightly dense but not grainy, flaky but not powdery.

The secret to a good moist scone that is also light, is in the proportion of rising agent to flour. Use too much leaving and your scone will definitely rise but be overpowered by baking powder chemicals. It is also important to keep the mixing to an absolute minimum or the gluten in the flour gets overworked, which makes the dough elastic and consequently the baked scones hard.

Many recipes call for self-rising flour as a staple ingredient. Often times, we find ourselves passing these recipes by because we don’t have it on hand, or because we don’t use it enough to actually want to buy it. Luckily, self-rising flour is easy to make at home. It requires only three ingredients and can be used in both recipes that call for it as an ingredient, and as a substitute for regular flour in quick-rise recipes to cut down on separate leavening agents.

The glaze is definitely the ‘icing on the cake’ when it comes to these scones. Chambord Liqueur is created using all natural ingredients. Black and red raspberries are blended before being steeped in Cognac to achieve a highly concentrated base. The mixture is then extracted and a second infusion captures the remaining flavors from the berries. The final step marries the berry infusion with Cognac and extracts of Madagascan vanilla, Moroccan citrus peel, honey and hints of fragrant herbs.

The total combination of scone and glaze is absolutely awesome!

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Mango Scones w/ Chambord Glaze
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Instructions
Scones
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking soda, cardamom & lemon zest. With fingertips, cut in grated butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together buttermilk, egg & vanilla; add to flour mixture. Fold in JUST until incorporated then carefully fold in mangos.
  4. Place dough on parchment paper lined baking sheet. With lightly floured hands, pat dough into an 8-inch circle. Score into 8 or 12 wedges.
  5. Bake 20 minutes or until golden & test done. Cover lightly with foil if over browning before finished baking. Remove from oven to a cooling rack. cool slightly before glazing.
Glaze
  1. In a small dish, combine glaze ingredients & drizzle over cooled scones. Decorate with raspberries & mango if desired.
Recipe Notes

Self-rising flour contains baking powder in a proportion that is perfect for most sponge cakes, cupcakes and scones. Some recipes may ask for a little additional baking powder to be added, particularly if the cake is made with an all-in-one method as omitting the creaming stage in the cake making means less air is incorporated into the batter during the mixing stage. Other times a small amount of baking soda is added if the ingredients include cocoa powder, yogurt or buttermilk.

  • For 1 cup of self-rising flour use: 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 1/2 tsp baking powder & 1/4 tsp salt. Multiply the amount as needed to create a larger amount.