Financier Doughnuts

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It’s true: everything old is new again.  There are countless blogs and Pinterest boards dedicated to modern styling of vintage attire.  New consignment stores (I realize this is somewhat of an oxymoron) are popping up all over the place and are doing great business.  Used book stores are all the rage (day trip to Powell’s, anyone?), and antique cookware is adorning most everyone’s kitchens.  I’m certainly not complaining; I’m rather fond of this trend myself.

As of late, I have found it especially fascinating how this trend has spread to the far reaches of the fashion industry.  Take ombre hair, for instance: what is it, if not allowing one’s natural hair color to grow out and leaving one’s highlights unattended?  A decade ago, everyone would have thought such a thing to be little more than pure sloth; now, it’s a widely accepted norm.  Kind of crazy when you think about it, isn’t it?

DSCN1703Despite what the tenor of the day may be, some things never go out of style.  They’re constantly in style, making them, in my opinion, all the better.  One such thing?  Coffee and doughnuts on a weekend morning.  Really, can you think of anything more enjoyable across multiple generations than a warm cup o’ joe with a freshly baked breakfast pastry?  Not only is this an excellent way to start the day, it’s also a terrific excuse to get together and catch up, gossip, swap stories, or, simply, take pleasure in each others’ company.

I sincerely hope that you do take the time to enjoy coffee and a doughnut with a good friend or cherished family member.  I am certain that he/she will be so glad that you both took to the time to do so.  He/she may be even gladder that you took the time to prepare some oh-so-delightful French-inspired doughnuts to share with him/her.  To acquaint you with the present project, and in the event that you are unfamiliar,I will give you a brief synopsis of what a financier is: it’s a wee French breakfast pastry largely constituted of butter and almonds, but with a fresh berry thrown in for good measure.  They look like teeny tiny muffins, but they’re way tastier and, most unfortunately, probably far worse for your arteries.  (Note: if you use Bing’s image search and type in “financier”, you’ll get a bunch of pictures of pastries, but the side of the page will have Warren Buffett, JP Morgan, and friends listed as “related topics”.  Ha!)  I don’t mean to overly Americanize something so deliciously French, but I’m confident that you, as well as any pals you may share these with, will come to agree that a doughnut version of a French pastry is not such a bad thing.  Let’s give it a try.

Financier Doughnuts

Adapted from Lunch in Paris: A Love Story, with Recipes

Makes 6 Doughnuts

Ingredients:

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/2 cup ground almonds

1/3 cup turbinado (raw) sugar

1/2 tsp. baking soda

pinch of salt

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted (or browned, if you want a little something extra!)

1 large egg

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1/2 cup buttermilk

1/2 pint fresh blueberries

Equipment:

2 medium mixing bowls

whisk

spatula

doughnut pan

spray canola oil

pastry bag (or large Ziploc bag)

cooling rack

How to Make the Doughnuts:

Preheat the oven to 325F.

In one small mixing bowl, combine the sugar, melted butter, egg, and vanilla extract.  In the other mixing bowl, whisk together the ground almonds, flour, baking soda, and salt.  Create a well in the middle of the dry ingredients, then pour the wet ingredients in.  Use a spatula to mix the dry and wet ingredients until just combined.  Fill the pastry bag with the doughnut batter.DSCN1699

In a greased doughnut pan, set 5-6 blueberries, evenly spaced around the circle.  Pipe the batter over the blueberries, filling each space about half full.  Be sure to make sure that the batter goes over the blueberries, rather than having the berries mixed in.  This will create the way neat illusion that the blueberries are floating right at the top of the doughnut.

Bake the doughnuts for 13-15 minutes until golden brown.  Just to make sure they’re done, insert a toothpick; if it comes out clean, you’re good to go!  If not, give them another minute or two.  When the doughnuts are done, place the pan on the cooling rack for about five minutes.  After five minutes, very, very gently invert the whole doughnut pan onto the cooling rack.  Allow the doughnuts to cool this way for another 5-10 minutes or so.  This way, the doughnuts will gently ease themselves out of the pan, each in one piece, rather than break apart like countless bundt cakes of old have done.  Serve with a hot cup of coffee and your favorite friend, and enjoy!

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Pistachio Cherry Biscotti

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My mind is still on Paris.  If anything, I think that last week’s scone adventure only exacerbated my outdoor cafe fixation.  I don’t think that my most recent read helped the situation any: last weekend, a friend loaned me her copy of Parisian Chic: A Style Guide by Ines de la Fressange.  It’s all about Parisian style, and not just clothes!  Ines also discusses home decor, beauty tips (when it comes to make-up, less is more!), and all manner of lesser-known Parisian destinations.  I love it.  I finished the book in two days.  It made me feel terrible for having ever worn a hoodie in public.  (Nonetheless, my Boundary Bay Brewery “Save the Ales” sweatshirt is still one of my most treasured possessions.)  I’m not all about Parisian styles, and I don’t think it’s such a bad thing.

I think that one may do very well to apply Parisian style to other areas of one’s life, such as cooking, relationships and living in general.  Often times, it’s better just to keep things simple.  Don’t over-complicate matters.  Don’t add additional drama for drama’s sake (I’m referring to both social drama and make-up drama- every day doesn’t need to be a wingtip eyeliner day).  Are we really better off with all the bells and whistles?  Will another piece of jewelry really do anything to enhance the way that you and another person interact and relate to each other?  Keep it simple.  You’re friends with your friend because you like each other and enjoy spending time together, right?  So do just that!  Quit making excuses for why you can’t do this or don’t have time to do that.  Make the effort to be a good friend.  You’ll both appreciate it in the long run, and it’s absolutely worth it.

It’s good food for thought, isn’t it?  Pondering what you really enjoy?  For the sake of keeping things simple, I thoroughly enjoy cherries.  One of my friend’s mom and I share a special connection in that we’re both die-hard Cherry Garcia fans.  DSCN1693My love of cherry dishes is trumped almost exclusively by my infatuation with all things pistachio.  I mean it.  Oh, your bakery sells pistachio macarons.  I must make them mine.  It’s even worse with pistachio gelato.  Fortunately (unfortunately?) for me, I very seldom come across these two items, allowing me plenty of time to ponder a decent substitute.  That said, here we are.  In continuing with the espresso-sipping/outdoor cafe theme, biscotti seems like the next logical step.  Not just any biscotti- pistachio cherry biscotti.  What could one enjoy more?

Pistachio Cherry Biscotti

Adapted from The Eat-Clean Diet Cookbook

Ingredients:

1 cup all-purpose flour

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Pistachios and cherries and coconut extract, oh my!

1 cup whole-wheat flour

1/4 cup turbinado (raw) sugar

2 Tbsp. packed light brown sugar

2 tsp. baking powder

4 Tbs. (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into 1/2″ cubes

3 egg whites

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tsp. coconut extract

1/2 cup pistachios (unsalted)

1/4 cup finely chopped dried cherries

Equipment:

food processor or pastry blender

cookie sheet

spatula

cooling rack

serrated knife

To Make the Biscotti:

Preheat the oven to 350F.

Put 1/4 cup of the pistachios in a food processor and blend until they are very finely ground.  Next, add both flours, baking powder, turbinado sugar, and brown sugar.  Run the food processor on low for about 10 seconds, until all of the dry ingredients are well-combined.  Add the butter.  Run the food processor on low for about 7 seconds, then stop and scrape the sides of the container with a spatula.  Run the food processor for about 10 seconds more.  The mixture should resemble a very coarse meal.  Now, add the egg whites, vanilla extract, and coconut extract.  Run the food processor onDSCN1679 low again to combine.  Scrape the sides of the bowl, then run for another ten seconds, until everything is well incorporated.  Finally, add the chopped cherries and remaining 1/4 cup pistachios.  Pulse the processor a few times to get them all good and mixed in.

Turn the mixture out onto the cookie sheet.  Shape the dough into a rectangle, about 1-1/2″ thick, 4″ wide, and 10″ long.  Bake the biscotti loaf until golden brown, about 25 minutes.

DSCN1689Remove the loaf from the oven, but leave the oven on.  Allow the loaf to cool on the rack for 10 minutes before proceeding.

Using a serrated knife, slice the loaf at an angle, creating slices about 1″ thick.  Arrange the slices on the cookie sheet withDSCN1692 one of the sliced sides up.  Return the cut biscotti to the oven, and bake for another 15-20 minutes, turning the biscotti over halfway through.  I like my biscotti a bit less crisp, so I baked them for only 16 minutes.

Store your biscotti in an airtight container.  They will last for about a week.  I recommend serving your biscotti with a cup of warm coffee and a good friend.  Enjoy!

Raspberry Maple Scones with Caramelized White Chocolate

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Call me “crazy” (in all honesty, I’d really rather you didn’t), but I like to have a scenario in mind when thinking of what to bake.  For example, I am presently in the romantic and blissful throes of reading The Paris Wife, so I am all a-flutter with visions of sitting in outdoor cafes, sipping brandy, and pretending I understand what any of Gertrude Stein’s poems are really about.  Sadly, I am not presently in 1920’s Paris, so I have little choice but to mastermind my own substitute situation.  Let’s do it.

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This is caramelized white chocolate. I hope you’ll be all about it in the very near future.

As the present pleasant outdoor cafe scenario takes place stateside rather than in France, let’s swap out croissants for scones!  I’ve been on a serious maple kick as of late (which may or may not have been inspired by a recent viewing of Elf), so let’s start with a maple-flavored scone.  Now, what to add, what to add…  Well, the season’s first raspberries have begun to appear in the produce section, so let’s add those, too!  Maple and raspberry!  Woot!  What could possibly make that combination any better?  Chocolate.  Duh.  Have you heard of caramelized white chocolate?  I was unaware there was such a thing until last summer, when I purchased Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home.  If you’re going to have an ice cream cookbook, I cannot recommend it enough.  Would you believe me if I told you that there is such a thing as absinthe + meringues ice cream?  There is.  Jeni thought of it, and it’s brilliant, but I digress.  Caramelized white chocolate is all of the goodness of regular white chocolate, but with an unbelievable and oh-so-magical touch of caramel.  Just wait.  You’ll love it, too.

Right-o!  Let’s throw these bad boys together so that you can commence with your own coffee-and-scone-outdoor-enjoyment time ASAP!

Maple, Raspberry, and White Chocolate Scones

Adapted from Vanilla Garlic

Makes 6 Scones

Scone Ingredients

1 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 cup maple sugar flakes (Trader Joe’s has them, as do many natural food stores)

1/2-3/4 cup cream

2/3 cup fresh raspberries

Caramelized White Chocolate Ingredients

2 Tbs. coconut oil

3 oz. white chocolate chips

Equipment:

1 medium mixing bowl

1 spatula

1 cookies sheet

aluminum foil (optional)

butter or spray canola oil (to grease cookie sheet or aluminum foil)

cooling rack

1 small saucepan

1 small mixing bowl

To Make the Scones:

Preheat oven to 425F.  Combine flour, baking powder, salt, and maple sugar flakes in a medium mixing bowl.  Add the raspberries, gently mixing them into the dry ingredients.  Add 1/2 cup of the cream to the dry ingredients, and use the spatula to combine.  Once you’ve well-combined the cream and dry ingredients with the spatula, use your hands to continue incorporating the two together until it forms a slightly sticky mass.  If the mixture is too dry, add additional cream 1 Tbs. at a time.  Pack the dough into a ball, then turn it out onto a well-floured surface.  Shape the ball into a circle, about 8″ in diameter and 1-1/2″ thick.  Cut the dough into six pieces.  Transfer each piece onto the greased cooking sheet or aluminum foil, spacing each about 2″-3″ apart.  Bake for 12-17 minutes, until golden brown.  Transfer the entire cookies sheet to a cooling rack, and allow the scones to cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before removing them from the sheet.

To Make the Caramelized White Chocolate:

In a small saucepan over medium-low, combine the coconut oil and white chocolate.  Continuously (seriously, keep stirring the whole time) stir the mixture as it begins to melt.  As tempting as it may be, don’t turn the heat up to speed up the process; this will just make the white chocolate coagulate and become increasingly difficult to work with.  Continue to stir the mixture, scraping the sides and bottom of the pan as you go, for 12-15 minutes.  As you continue to stir, the mixture will begin to turn a light caramel color which will deepen the longer you keep it over the heat.  When the mixture has reached your desired level of caramelization, immediately remove the pan from the heat and transfer the caramelized mixture to a small mixing bowl.  Allow it to cool for about 10 minutes prior to drizzling it over the scones.  Allow the scones 10-15 minutes to cool after removing them from the oven before drizzling the caramelized white chocolate over them.  If the scones are too warm, the caramelized white chocolate may run right off of them in a somewhat unattractive manner.  Drizzle each scone with as much caramelized white chocolate as you like.  Allow them a few more minutes so that the caramelized white chocolate can harden a bit.  Pour yourself a cup of coffee or your favorite tea to go with your scones, and enjoy!