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snack

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Perfect Vanilla Scones

August 18, 2014

Vanilla Scone | Espresso and Cream
My sister-in-law, Ali, is one of the kindest, most genuine people I’ve ever met. She married into the Hofmeyer family two years ago when she married Joe’s brother, Jason, and I think I can speak for the whole family when I say that Jason found a fantastic wife in Ali.

Some of you may also remember that when we were pregnant with baby #2 Ali and I were supposed to be due only 6 days apart from one another. We spent a lot of time texting back and forth that first trimester and I think I can speak for both of us when I say that our miscarriage was devastating and difficult knowing how to navigate the waters while she was still pregnant and I no longer was. To Ali’s credit, she was so gracious and compassionate in those months following, always careful of what she posted on social media while our wounds were still fresh and sharing just enough with us but not too much so that it would hurt even more.

In the months following our miscarriage I desperately wanted to figure out how to be happy for both of my sister-in-laws and their pregnancies while also mourning and grieving our own loss. Joe and I have clung to the verse, “Laugh with those who laugh, mourn with those who mourn,” and I wanted nothing more than to be able to do just that with our family. I found that doing things in spite of my pain was the most healing; I think the phrase I actually used was, “Every time I can be happy for someone despite my sadness, it’s like I’m saying a big ‘Screw you!’ to the devil, who wants to steal my ability to be joyful for others and make me bitter”.

BabyShowerPhoto
Part of that process included sending the maternity clothes I had purchased to Ali and planning to throw her a baby shower in Minnesota later in the summer. Of course, at the time I would have never imagined we would be pregnant again by the time the shower rolled around, but there was something remarkably sweet about throwing a shower this weekend, celebrating Ali and Jason’s baby girl, remembering our own lost little one and feeling so thankful and joyful for the life that God has blessed us with in His own timing.

The spread at the shower included scones with an assortment of toppers such as jam and butter. Of all the breakfast pastries I suggested making, Ali’s vote went to scones. Her only request? They needed to be dense and slightly crumbly and crisp around the edges, not fluffy and cakey like some bakery-style scones in the states.

I tested a lot of recipes in the weeks leading up to the shower and realized that there are a lot of people who have no idea how to make a proper scone. Finally, when I was totally frustrated with scone recipe testing I consulted Desserts by the Yard, one of my favorite baking books. Sherry Yard never fails to come through for me, and this time her scone recipe totally knocked it out of the park. If you’re looking for a truly lovely scone, I would highly recommend this recipe. They soften a bit the next day, so make them the day of for best results!

Vanilla Scones 1 | Espresso and Cream

Perfect Vanilla Scones
Author: 
Serves: 12
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup sugar
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, cut into small pieces
  • ¼ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup milk (I used whole milk)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Additional sugar for dusting
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment; set aside.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking soda and salt. Stir until well-combined. Add the butter to the flour mixture and use your hands to break the butter up into small pieces. Then, once the butter has been broken up into small pieces, use your fingers to flatter the pieces of butter into thin discs.
  3. In a small bow, stir together the heavy cream, milk, egg and vanilla. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Use your hand to knead the dough gently 2 to 3 times or just until dough comes together.
  4. Turn dough out onto a floured countertop and shape into a rectangle 1-inch thick. Cut into 12 small squares (about 1½ by 1½ inches or so) and place on baking sheet. Dust with additional sugar, if desired.
  5. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until scones are rich golden brown around the edges. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack.

 

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Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies

July 31, 2014

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies | Espresso and Cream
Hello, strangers! It feels like forever when in reality it’s only been about a week since I last checked in with you. If you’ve been following along on Instagram, you’ve seen more than enough photos of our vacation, but I’ll be sharing a full update of our time in Boston and Maine very soon. It was such a wonderful trip and even the rainy weather couldn’t get us down. A huge highlight? We happened to be in Kennebunkport at the same time as Natalie and Dan, so we grabbed ice cream together and chatted. So fun!

Now that we’re back home, I’m really looking forward to eating a little more normally. Don’t get me wrong, we ate really well on our trip, but probably a little too well! Today it’s been really nice to have a plain bowl of oatmeal with almond butter for breakfast and a sandwich with fruit for lunch. I think there’s a good reason vacation doesn’t last forever.

Surprisingly, we didn’t eat many sweets on our trip at all. We loaded up on savory items like lobster rolls, fried fish, and the most indulgent egg dishes for breakfast. When I got home the craving for a little something sweet hit right away, so I raided the bulk bins at Whole Foods on my grocery trip this morning and got to work.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

 

These cookies really do have it all. They’re packed with coconut, cashews, dried tart cherries and dark chocolate. And somehow, these cookies manage to feel a little bit healthy, which I’m sure is just an illusion since they also have plenty of brown sugar and butter, too. I made them on the smaller size, which means I can totally justify eating more than one.

Dark Chocolate, Cherry and Cashew Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 30
 
Ingredients
  • 1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter, softened
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup roasted unsalted cashews, chopped
  • ½ cup dried tart cherries, chopped
  • 3 oz dark chocolate, chopped
  • ½ cup unsweetened coconut
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a nonstick baking mat (such as a Silpat). Set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Add in the sugar and brown sugar and beat 2 minutes more or until sugars are combined and mixture is fluffy, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Add the egg and beat until just combined.
  3. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon. Add the flour mixture to the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined Add in the cashews, cherries, chocolate and coconut and beat until combined.
  4. Refrigerate dough at least 1 hour. Use a small metal cookie scoop to scoop dough onto baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between cookies. Bake 12 minutes or until edges are just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Transfer to wire cooling rack to cool completely.

 

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Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles

July 25, 2014

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles | Espresso and Cream
Sometimes you just need to eat a little raw cookie dough, am I right? Which always sounds like a really good idea at the time, until you have a spoonful (or 8) and then feel sick to your stomach with all the sugar and chocolate and find yourself too sick to actually enjoy a cookie when they come out of the oven. Tell me I’m not the only person who does that… Not that I’m really in the position to be eating raw cookie dough anyway, but I’ve been down that road many a time.

In the afternoon when a snack craving strikes, I usually reach for something healthy-sweet, meaning a Larabar, a Quest bar, a smoothie of some sort, or yogurt with fruit. But the other day I had the craving for cookie dough, so I spent some time in the kitchen determined to find a way to make a suitable, healthy alternative.

These cookie dough bites are made with ingredients you can feel good about: cashew butter, honey, protein powder, cinnamon and oats. Seriously, that’s it! But since they’re a little on the soft and sticky side, like real cookie dough, I decided to roll the balls in sprinkles before putting them in the fridge. And to be honest, I was a little surprised at how closely they resembled the real thing! If you’re feeling really crazy, feel free to stir a couple spoonfuls of mini chocolate chips into the dough before making the balls.

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles 2 | Espresso and Cream

Cashew Butter Cookie Dough Truffles
Author: 
Recipe type: Snack, Dessert
 
Ingredients
  • ⅔ cup JIFF cashew butter (you could substitute peanut butter or almond butter, but NOT the natural type)
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ cup Vega French Vanilla protein powder (or other protein powder of choice)
  • ½ cup rolled oats
  • Sprinkles, if desired
Instructions
  1. In a food processor, combine the cashew butter, honey, cinnamon and protein powder. Blend until well combined. Add in the oats and blend about 30 seconds more, or until oats are broken up and combined into the dough.
  2. Use a cookie scoop to scoop the dough into balls. Roll dough in sprinkles. Place in a plastic storage container and refrigerate at least 2 hours or until firm. Keep in the refrigerator for a healthy and indulgent snack any time a craving strikes!

 

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Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies

June 26, 2014

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 1 | Espresso and Cream

Lately I’ve really become captivated by the idea of simplicity and minimalism. It started with building a capsule wardrobe (more on that soon) and after I finished, I looked at my closet, so empty and uncluttered and scaled down to what I truly loved to wear and something started to click. In the past few weeks I’ve been digging and sorting through the junk drawer in our kitchen (does everyone have one of those?) and our pantry filled with kitchen appliances. It spilled over into the giant collection of magazines that I’ve kept for years; I tossed all but my favorite old issues of Gourmet and a few items of my own published work. I’ve been selling unused kitchen appliances and giving away cookbooks that I’ve collected over the years and just don’t have room to store. My house is starting to feel like a clean-running machine rather than a car loaded down with stuff.

A little voice in my head kept saying, “I need less.” “I want less!” You see, if I’m not careful I find myself getting caught up in the fallacy that I need more and more. I finish a much-needed living room remodel and start to fixate on other rooms in our house. Rooms that don’t really need to be updated, but something inside me whispers that if I just changed that one little thing, I would be happier.

So lately, when I start to think that I need more than I really do, I remind myself that I would rather spend my life living rather than managing my stuff and trying to keep up with the latest and greatest.

Gluten Free Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies 2 | Espresso and CreamI guess some of that simplicity-seeking has translated into my cooking at home, too. I’ve been baking with less sugar, imagining that’s probably the way that my grandma baked living on the farm all those years ago. It’s been nice, in this era of hyper-sweetened desserts, to sit down and enjoy a really simple, lightly sweet cookie that tastes like something you could eat every day rather than something you can only enjoy on a birthday or special occasion. And, I suppose, with each of these cookies only having 135 calories per cookie, you certainly could have one every day.

Gluten-Free Healthy Oatmeal Peanut Butter Cookies
Author: 
Serves: 15
 
Ingredients
  • 1 cup creamy natural peanut butter
  • ¼ to ½ cup brown sugar (I used ¼ for lightly sweet cookies, use ½ C if you want sweeter cookies)
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon gluten-free vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup Chex gluten-free instant oats or other instant gluten-free oats of choice
  • 2 large eggs
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 350F.
  2. In a large bowl, combine all of the ingredients until well combined. Roll dough into 15 balls, a little more than 1-inch in diameter. Use a fork sprayed with cooking spray to press a criss-cross pattern into the tops of the cookies.
  3. Bake on cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray 8 minutes or until edges are set and just golden brown. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet. Cool completely on wire cooling rack, about 10 minutes.

 

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Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake

June 16, 2014

Banana Bundt Cake 1 | Espresso and Cream

Last night I flew into NYC for work for a couple days. As I flew into the city, I got a little nostalgic thinking about all the memories that I’ve made in this place. My first trip to New York was when I was a freshman in college and my dad took our whole family here over Christmas and New Year’s. I remember how overwhelmed and shocked I was as we flew in, seeing the density of the buildings in such a tiny amount of space, unlike anything I had seen before.

A couple years later I visited New York quite regularly on my own while filming for The Rachael Ray Show. Although I was well taken care of, I’m sure my parents were a little bit nervous sending their 21-year-old daughter off on her own week after week to film a television show.

I remember being in Rockefeller Center on election night in 2008 and then back there in 2010 getting engaged to Joe next to the tree with a crowd full of strangers cheering as he got down on one knee.  And then back to NYC for another round of The Rachael Ray Show’s All-Stars edition in 2011.

Without a doubt, I love visiting this place and remembering everything I’ve experienced here, but I always really, really love going home, too. And I realize what a gift it is to love your home and what you have more than anywhere else you could possibly travel to our visit. (Although if Joe told me we were moving to Italy, I wouldn’t be all that upset…)

Banana Bundt Cake 2 | Espresso and Cream

 

I suppose I’ve gotten terribly off track with my little walk down memory lane. This post is really supposed to be about this Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake. It didn’t take long for us to fall in love with this recipe in the Hofmeyer house. I’ve been playing around with using a lot less sugar in my baking at home but sometimes I’m disappointed with the texture of lower sugar treats. Thankfully this cake doesn’t disappoint! It’s absolutely light and fluffy and delicious, with just a hint of sweetness from the bananas and a small amount of honey.

After I turned the bundt cake out, I decided to add a drizzle of dark chocolate. This is only really necessary if you plan on serving this cake as a healthier dessert or want it to taste a little sweeter. You could easily leave off the chocolate drizzle, or even turn the batter into muffins for a healthy breakfast on the go!

Low Sugar Banana Bundt Cake
Author: 
Recipe type: dessert, snack, breakfast
Serves: 16
 
This batter would also make fantastic low-sugar muffins for kids and healthy adults!
Ingredients
  • 3 very ripe bananas, mashed
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ⅓ cup vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ cup milk
  • 2¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ½ cup toasted hazelnuts, chopped (optional)
  • Chocolate Drizzle
  • ⅓ cup dark chocolate, melted
Instructions
  1. Heat oven to 325°F.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine all the above ingredients except the dark chocolate. Stir until just combined and ingredients are evenly mixed. Pour batter into a well-greased 10- or 12-cup bundt pan.
  3. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool 5 minutes in pan. Turn cake out onto wire cooling rack and cool completely, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.
  4. Once cake has cooled, drizzle with melted chocolate, if desired.