July 27, 2013

Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones

There is a place quite close to Waikiki Beach that sells the most amazing scones.  Diamond Head Market & Grill is quite well-known to locals and tourists alike. They have a great variety of gourmet foods that are packaged in to-go containers, so it is the perfect place to stop and pick up a picnic lunch. They also have a great selection of baked goods including pies, cakes, cookies, and their famous scones.  Blueberry was the original flavor and is probably their most popular, but they have added a few new flavors over time including banana, apple crumb, and pineapple. Once you have had one of their scones you are hooked for life.

Since they sell hundreds of these scones every day, it is not surprising that the owner is keeping the recipe a secret.  Of course that has not stopped people from trying to copy it, including me.  In my quest to find a recipe for these scones I came across an article that had been written back in 2003 by Betty Shimabukuro (food writer & recipe guru in Hawaii) in the Honolulu Star Bulletin that seemed pretty close.  I decided to give it a try, with a few small tweaks.

Every time I that I have eaten these scones they seemed to have a very soft, pillowy crumb and I would always wonder how they got them so soft. I decided to replace some of the all-purpose flour with cake flour to achieve a softer and finer texture.  One of my favorite things about these scones was the glaze on top, so I omitted sprinkling the berries with sugar and added a glaze that was brushed on liberally with a pastry brush as soon as they came out of the oven. I also decided that I wanted to use fresh blueberries. I found that the easiest way to incorporate the berries and cream cheese pieces was to leave the dough in the bowl, poke a few berries and cream cheese pieces into it and then gently put my hand underneath the dough and fold it in half, repeating this until all were incorporated. Also, the recipe did call for cutting the cream cheese in pieces, which I have left in the recipe below, but I found it easier to just break off pieces by hand as I was incorporating it.

My scones were a little smaller than the ones you will find at Diamond Head Market, but I have to say that the taste was a perfect replica.  Warm from the oven, with a little glaze over the top, they were melt-in-the-mouth good.  I found myself breaking off just a piece here and there throughout the day, until I finally thought to myself this is ridiculous, so I made a cup of my favorite coffee and sat down to relax and enjoy one.  And I am so glad that I did.

Blueberry Cream Cheese Scones
(Printer Friendly Recipe)


  • ⅓ cup butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup cake flour
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅓ cup milk
  • 3 ounces cream cheese, softened
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • ½ cup blueberries
  • 2 ounces cream cheese, cut in 1/2-inch pieces (see note above)
  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • ¼ cup hot water


  1. Preheat oven to 400℉.
  2. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
  3. Combine butter, flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a bowl and cut with a pastry blender or two butter knives until crumbly (I like to use my hands for this).
  4. Whisk milk into softened cream cheese (3 oz), add egg and continue to whisk until well-combined. 
  5. Stir cream cheese mixture into flour mixture until dough forms a ball - if the dough is a little wet sprinkle some additional flour on top and gently knead).
  6. Gently push blueberries and cream cheese pieces (2 oz) into the dough to incorporate evenly. Be careful not to crush the berries or mash the cream cheese pieces.
  7. Using a large spoon or (ice cream scoop) drop mounds of dough onto a cookie sheet to make 8 scones. Tuck berries and cream cheese pieces into the dough as much as possible.
  8. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes, until golden. 
  9. While the scones are baking make the glaze; place the powdered sugar in a small bowl, gradually add the hot water, and whisk until smooth. Once the scones are removed from the oven glaze them generously with this mixture.
Recipe adapted from The Honolulu-Star Bulletin by ATLATC.

July 24, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers July 2013 - Boston Cream Pie-lets

It is so hard to believe that we only have a short time left baking from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson. Each month has produced some beautiful creations and it is really hard to pick a favorite from the cakes that The Cake Slice Baker's have baked. I am sure that it is a cookbook that I will return to again and again.

This month's choice is the Boston Cream Pie-lets - such a cute name.  I would call this recipe a deconstructed Boston Cream Pie because it is actually made in individual pudding cups, which is a wonderful idea because you can add more of the good stuff- that delicious vanilla pudding.

Of course the name Boston Cream Pie is a misnomer because it isn't a pie at all, it is a cake.  So how did it get the name?  The Boston Cream Pie was the the invention of the chef at the Parker House Hotel in Boston in 1856, and back then it was known as the Parker House Chocolate Pie. Even when it was created it was still really a cake, but was probably baked in a pie tin, which were more common than cake tins, and was therefore known as a pie. I guess the name just stuck. Did you know that it is also the official dessert of Massachusetts?

I was really looking forward to trying this recipe because I have never made a cake that starts with whipped cream and I was really curious as to how it would turn out. I prepped everything I needed and got ready to bake the cake. After I added the cream to the mixer I turned it on to high speed and started whipping it. I swear I only turned my back for a minute to grab the measured sugar so I could pour it in and I turned back to a bowl cream that was beyond "soft, droopy peaks". My heart sank as that was the last of my cream, and I didn't really want to face Costco on the weekend. I tried to convince myself that it may still be ok, so I added the sugar and kept my fingers crossed.  In hindsight I should have crossed my toes too because what I ended up with was a bowl of separated cream and sugar. Oh, and I had just used the last of my sugar too. Here I come Costco! Moral of the story - do not turn your back on your cream. It is better to err on the more droopy side than the stiff peaks side.

Once I returned from Costco with my cream and sugar (and a few other items - darn you Costco, why can't I just buy what I went in for?) I was ready to start again. This time I watched the mixer like a hawk and stopped at "soft, droopy peaks" and I am happy to report that the rest of the mixing was uneventful and the cake came out perfectly.  I loved both the taste and texture of this cake and it is going to be my go-to recipe whenever I need to make a layered dessert.  The recipe suggests keeping the leftover cake to snack on later but I am suggesting that you just snack on it straight from the pan while it is warm, but I do caution you that once you start snacking you will not be able to stop.

After looking through my cupboards for suitable pudding cups I decided to try a variety of containers to see what worked best.  I tried a ramekin, a lowball glass, a teacup, a wine glass, a tumbler, and finally some Chinet plastic cups. The ramekin and the plastic cups were the easiest to work with because they had even sides.  Although it is nice to see the layers of the pie-lets, I thought it was kind of fun to have them hidden under layer of chocolate so everyone got a surprise when they dug their spoons in, so I would probably just go with all ramekins next time.

The Boston Cream Pie-lets were another winner. I sent the six I had made in plastic cups to some of my daughters college friends and they declared them delicious and they were gone in no time. They reminded me a little bit of a tiramisu without the coffee flavor, and they were definitely sweet so a little went a long way.  I think they would make a great dessert if you had to bring something to an office potluck, or a picnic, or even a bake sale because you could make them in small plastic cups which would be so easy to eat.

Please join me in visiting my fellow Cake Slice Bakers to see their wonderful creations.

Boston Cream Pie-lets
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients ~ Cake
  • 2 cups cake flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1½ cups heavy cream, cold
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Ingredients ~Pudding
  • 1 vanilla bean
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 8 egg yolks
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ corn starch
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
Ingredients ~ Ganache
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or bittersweet, chopped or chips

Preparation ~ Cake
  1. Center an oven rack and preheat oven to 350℉.
  2. Grease a 13x9-inch cake pan and set aside eight 6-ounce pudding cups.
  3. Sift together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and whisk to make sure they are well combined.
  4. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the cream on high speed until soft, droopy peaks form. 
  5. On medium-low speed, add the sugar in a steady stream  and then return the mixer to high and continue to whip the cream until stiff peaks begin to form. 
  6. Return the mixer to low and add the eggs one at a time, followed by the vanilla.
  7. With the speed still on low stir in the flour mixture in three parts, making sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl after each addition to ensure all the ingredients have been incorporated fully. 
  8. Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake on the center rack until the cake springs back in the middle when lightly touched, about 30 minutes.
  9. Cool the cake in the pan on a wire rack until it is room temperature. While the cake is cooling make the vanilla pudding.
  10. To assemble the cake, use a 2¾-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter to cut 8 circles in the cake directly from the pan. Carefully remove them from the pan and, using a serrated knife, cut each one in half horizontally to create two layers per cake (keep the leftover cake to snack on). Spoon 3 tablespoons of the warm pudding into the bottom of each pudding dish. Set the bottom half of the cake on top of the pudding, then spoon another 3 tablespoons of hot pudding and cover it with the top half of the cake. Cover the pie-lets  with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 4 hours to set up.  Once they are firm, spoon 2 tablespoons of warm chocolate ganache over each one and allow the dessert to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before serving.  Well wrapped and refrigerated they will keep for up to 5 days.

Preparation ~ Pudding
  1. Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise using a paring knife, scrape out the seeds from the pod and put them, along with the pod, into a large saucepan. Then add the milk and ⅓ cup of sugar. 
  2. Place the pan over medium heat and heat until the milk is hot but not boiling. 
  3. While the milk is heating, thoroughly whisk together the yolks, the remaining ⅔ cup of sugar,  and salt, and then blend in the cornstarch. 
  4. Slowly whisk in a third of the hot milk into the yolk mixture to temper it and prevent scrambling.
  5. Pour the mixture back into the pan with the remaining milk and gently cook over medium-low heat, whisking continuously, until the pudding just begins to thicken and has been bubbling for about 1 minute. 
  6. Strain mixture through a fine mesh sieve into a clean bowl and whisk in the butter until melted. 

Preparation ~ Ganache
  1. Once the pie-lets have chilled for approximately 3.5 hours, prepare the ganache.
  2. Place the chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl. 
  3. Heat cream in a medium saucepan set over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until the cream starts to simmer. 
  4. Remove the cream from heat and pour over chocolate. Swirl the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is coated. 
  5. Cover the bowl with a lid and let the cream and chocolate sit together for 5 minutes. 
  6. Remove the lid and stir the cream and chocolate together. First start with small circles in the center and gradually increase until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. 
  7. Set aside for 30 minutes so that it becomes creamy (makes about 1½ cups).

Recipe from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson

July 23, 2013

The Cake Slice Bakers June 2013 - Black and White Cake

I am extremely late with last month's cake.  I just seemed to lose my baking mojo, and each time I thought about getting ready to bake this cake something else seemed to need my time and energy.

The cake that was chosen by the Cake Slice Baker's for June was the Black and White Cake which is described in Vintage Cakes as "the reverse of the classic white cake with chocolate frosting: two thick layers of the darkest chocolate cake, slathered with bittersweet ganache and then covered with vanilla bean buttercream". Sounds pretty decadent doesn't it?

Although there are a lot of components to the cake, breaking it up over a couple of days makes the task seem less daunting.  I ended up baking the cake and making the ganache and buttercream, and assembling part of the cake one day and then completing the frosting and adding a ganache topping the following day.  Really, it is not a difficult cake to make at all, you just need to work out the timing.

As usual I had a few ideas to change the cake just a little - however, I did stay true to the basic recipe, which is the point in baking from this book and along with the group.  I decided that I wanted to lightly brush the layers with a mixture of coffee and Kahlua to add a little moistness and a flavor kick to the cake, and I ended up making a little extra ganache to pour over the top of the cake. Also, contrary to what the actual directions state I trimmed the tops of my cakes just a little and placed the top side down on the serving plate because I find that the bottom of the cake absorbs moisture better when brushing the cakes, and I did this with the second layer too. Oh, and I added a few drops of black food coloring to my ganache.  Call me crazy but I just do not like my ganache looking so red in my photos, and I am still learning about photography and editing photos, so I don't know how to fix this later.

This cake got rave reviews from all who tried it.  It had something for everyone - a deep, dark chocolate flavor for the chocoholics, and a lovely sweet vanilla flavor for the vanilla lovers. Also, it really does develop a great flavor if left for a couple of days in the refrigerator, but make sure you allow it to come to room temperature before serving.

Please visit The Cake Slice Bakers blogroll page for links to all of my fellow baker's cakes.  I am about to head over there myself since I make it a rule not to peek at the other cakes before I get mine up on my blog.  I can't wait to see all of their delicious creations. Oh, and don't forget that we have a Facebook page too and would love for you to visit - there you will see not only our monthly group baking project, but also all of the other goodies we bake and some great tips.

Black and White Cake
(Printer Friendly Recipe)

Ingredients ~ Cake
  • ¾ cup Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa
  • ⅔ cup hot coffee 
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1¼ cups dark brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, room temperature
  • 2 egg yolks, room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons hot coffee (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons Kahlua (optional)
Ingredients ~ Ganache
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 8 oz. semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped or chips
Ingredients ~ Buttercream
  • 6 egg whites
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 cups unsalted butter (1 pound), room temperature and cut into cubes
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

Preparation ~ Cake
  1. Center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350℉. 
  2. Line two 8-inch round baking pans with parchment paper. Grease each pan with cooking spray. 
  3. In a small bowl, combine the cocoa powder and hot coffee, add the sour cream and vanilla and stir until well mixed. 
  4. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt and whisk to combine. 
  5. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter  and sugar on medium-high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Add the eggs and egg yolks one at a time, adding the next one just as the previous one has been incorporated.
  6. Turn the mixer speed down to low and add the flour mixture in three parts, alternating with the chocolate mixture in two parts, beginning and ending with the flour, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as you go to fully incorporate the ingredients.
  7. Divide the batter evenly between the two prepared pans. Smooth the tops and tap each pan on the counter a few times to allow air bubbles to escape. 
  8. Bake in the middle of the oven for 35-40 minutes - cakes are ready when the center spring back lightly when touched.
  9. Cool the cakes in the pan for 30 minutes before inverting them and placing them top side up on a cooling rack to cool completely before assembling. 
  10. Combine the hot coffee and Kahlua.
  11. To assemble the cake, lay one of the cakes, top side up, on a serving plate (see my note above for my variation).  Using a pastry brush, gently brush the cake with the combined coffee-Kahlua mixture. Using a metal spatula frost the top with about ½ cup of ganache, spreading it just a little inside the edge of the cake. Refrigerate for about 5 minutes to allow the ganache to firm up. Remove the cake from the refrigerator and spread about 1 cup of the buttercream, covering the ganache, and taking it all the way to the edge of the cake. Align the second cake on top of the buttercream, top side up (see note above), gently brush the cake with the combined coffee-Kahlua mixture, and frost it with another ½ cup cup of ganache and chill it in the fridge for another 5 minutes. Once chilled, spread a thin layer of buttercream all around the cake, creating a crumb coat. Place in the fridge for about 10 minutes to firm up the thin layer of frosting. Frost the cake with the remaining buttercream. Decorate the top of cake with the remaining ganache in desired. 
Preparation ~ Ganache
  1. Place the chocolate into a medium heat-proof bowl. 
  2. Heat cream in a medium saucepan set over medium low heat. Stir occasionally until the cream starts to simmer. 
  3. Remove the cream from heat and pour over chocolate. Swirl the bowl to ensure all the chocolate is coated. 
  4. Cover the bowl with a lid and let the cream and chocolate sit together for 5 minutes. 
  5. Remove the lid and stir the cream and chocolate together. First start with small circles in the center and gradually increase until all the chocolate has melted and the mixture is smooth. Allow to sit up to a couple hours to become creamy. 
Makes about 1 ½ cups

Preparation ~ Vanilla Buttercream
  1. Using a hand whisk, whisk together the egg whites, sugar, and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  2. Place the bowl over (not touching the water) a saucepan of simmering water. The mixture will be thick at first but will become more fluid-like as it heats. 
  3. Continue to gently whisk the mixture until very hot to the touch (130℉ on a candy thermometer).
  4. Move the bowl to the stand mixer and, using the whisk attachment, whip the whites and sugar mixture together on medium-high speed until it has tripped in volume and it is is thick and glossy, and holds stiff peaks, about 4 minutes. 
  5. Turn the mixer down to medium-low speed until the bowl is cool to touch. 
  6. Turn the speed back up and add the butter, one cube at a time, adding the next just as the previous one has been incorporated. During the mixing the frosting will, at one stage, look as though it has curdled, but it will come back together.
  7. Once all the butter has been added, and the frosting is fluffy and creamy, add the vanilla and salt until combined.
Makes about 5 cups. This buttercream, covered with plastic wrap will last for 2 days at room temperature or 7 days in the refrigerator.  If refrigerated it needs to come to room temperature before use.  Also the buttercream will need to be re-whipped before use.

Slightly adapted from Vintage Cakes by Julie Richardson.