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Sunday

Scones - Mini Pumpkin Spice with Orange Vanilla Icing

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Mini Pumpkin Spice Scones
with Orange Vanilla Icing
(Scones made with Organic Coconut Palm Sugar)

Hi-Hi-Hi!!!   Thank you for hanging in there with me during my crazy summer project...it's almost complete and I can hardly wait to tell you all about it. Here's a little glimpse of what has taken my time and attention:



My new canvas for all the gluten free recipes to come!
I can't wait to start creating.
Better lighting and a double oven...hmmm, two new creations at once?

And this is a designated shelving closet for all the little dishes, pans, bowls, and linens as well as my photo props and equipment.
I'm so excited to cook!  And I'm so excited to capture it with my lens and share on GFS.





My mornings have consisted of reviewing the construction schedule and staying on task while concentrating on my 'paying job' so we can obtain a mortgage! It's so easy to become distracted as my thoughts shift between Webx meetings and ceramic tile, and since my other passion is design/decor, it takes every ounce of discipline to stay focused and productive to meet the deadlines and expectations. Mr. Spinner and I must talk 15 times a day keeping each other alerted to developments and glitches, and as we take our place on the front porch each night we toast to another day closer.  We're almost done...we're almost there.  We are grateful, we keep it all in perspective, and we are excited.

This morning as I gathered my notes and a hot cup of coffee I was craving something sweet to start my day.  I wanted a pastry instead of the usual vanilla Greek yogurt, but just a 'little' pastry...like a mini scone.  Mmmm, scones...they're a cross between a muffin and a sweet bread; not as cakey as a muffin and not yeasty like a bread.   They are subtly sweet and most often shaped in triangles then finished with a drizzle of icing or a sprinkle of turbinado sugar.

The texture of scones can be crumbly with a dryer cake or moist with a dense heaviness.  The overall preference usually comes down to the flavor combinations, there are so many!  Sweet and savory with wonderful additions of fruit, nuts, chocolate chips, berries, and even herbs.  Endless possibilities.

 
Here's a picture of my Almond Scones and they were my first attempt at making gluten free scones.  They're one of my favorites, so buttery and soft with the sweetness of almond and vanilla.  Give them a try, they're reeeeeeally good.

For my pumpkin scones I wanted to use organic coconut palm sugar in place of refined sugar since I'm trying to reduce my refined sugar intake.  Have you tried coconut palm sugar?  It looks like brown sugar granules yet doesn't pack together like brown sugar.  It's sweet and tastes almost like granulated toffee(?). I'm pleasantly surprised at how good it is.


http://authoritynutrition.com/coconut-sugar/

When you purchase a bag, be sure to buy organic and check the ingredients for nothing other than "100% Organic Coconut Palm Sugar".  Some have processed ingredients actually adding white sugar.  The benefits claim to be a low-carb sugar substitute that's more nutritious than granulated sugar and reportedly has a naturally low glycemic index(GI). I've been using it in my coffee every morning instead of sugar and I like it much better. I just feel better not starting my day with a tsp or two of refined sugar.

As I read more about this special sugar and it's popularity in the baking world, there are questions as to just how much better it actually is than refined sugar.  The controversy feels similar to when Agave Nectar was so popular.  My take is stick with the naturals, minimal processing, and everything in moderation.  It seems to work for me...as long as it's also gluten free. 


In my recipe I used the coconut palm sugar cup-for-cup in place of brown sugar.  I didn't notice a flavor difference, but then I haven't made these yet with brown sugar. All I know is they turned out fantastic!  The warm spices of cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg blend perfectly with the pumpkin.  They are definitely more of a dense scone yet they're still light and fluffy.  As with all gluten free baked goods...the proof is in the middle...you must see the inside to be sure they aren't doughy, spongy, or gummy.  Here you go.....


You can even see little air pockets within the cake due to the gentle mixing of the dough. The final taa-daa is the orange vanilla icing...a touch of bright citrus orange juice combined with sweet warm vanilla glaze these mini scones to perfection.  Of course with most scones, they are best the day they are made.

Enjoy!


Mini Pumpkin Spice Scones with Orange Vanilla Icing
Approx. 28-32 mini scones

Pumpkin Scone Ingredients:
  • 2 cups all-purpose gluten free flour (Mama's coconut blend) 
  • 1/2 cup Organic Coconut Palm Sugar
  • 1 tsp Xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg (grate your own for best flavor)
  • 1/2 cup cold butter (1 stick) cut into small cubes
  • 1/2 cup 100% pumpkin puree
  • 1 Tbsp molasses
  • 3 tbsp lower fat half and half (can use regular too)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste or 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 Tbsp GF flour and 2 TBSP powdered sugar for rolling dough
Icing Ingredients:  Mix all icing ingredients together until desired consistency.
  • 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla bean paste or extract
  • 2-3 Tbsp orange juice
Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray(check ingredients).

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, molasses, half and half, egg and vanilla bean paste (or extract). Set aside.

In the bowl of food processor, add the GF flour, coconut palm sugar, xanthan gum, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ginger, cardamom, and nutmeg.  Pulse a few times to combine all ingredients.

Add the butter cubes and pulse 8-10 times until the mixture is crumbly like course cornmeal.

Add the pumpkin mixture and pulse again until the dough comes together.  It should pinch together and hold its shape.

Dust the counter or rolling surface with a combination of the 2 Tbsp GF flour and 2 Tbsp powdered sugar.  Begin to lightly knead the dough, 3-5 times, just until it comes together enough to cut into triangles.  Don't over-knead or add too much flour, the dough needs to be delicate for the scones to be tender.

Rolling the dough into scones:  (I'm listing the tutorial from King Arthur Flour as this is what I used for mine) 

Pat/roll the dough into an 8" to 8 1/2" square, a scant 3/4" thick. Make sure the surface underneath the dough is very well floured. If necessary, use a giant spatula to lift the square, and sprinkle more flour underneath.

Cut the square into 2" squares; you'll have a total of 16 small squares. Now, cut each square in half diagonally, to make approx. 32 small triangles. This is all easily accomplished with a rolling pizza wheel; if you're working on a silicone mat, be very careful not to press down too hard as you cut.

Transfer the scones to a parchment-lined or well-greased baking sheet. They can be set fairly close together; you should be able to crowd them all onto an 18" x 13" half-sheet pan. 

Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned or edges slightly toasted, don't over bake.  Allow to cool about 20 minutes before glazing with the Orange Vanilla Icing.  Best eaten the same day.





Tuesday

4th of July - Favorite Menu Ideas

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A Few of Our Favorite Recipes
for your 4th of July Celebration

In just a few days we'll be celebrating the 4th of July with Gratitude and Joy.
  When we carry on these festivities, it's important to remember we're carrying on a grand tradition.

 The first anniversary of the Declaration, as it described the scene in Philadelphia: "The 4th of July was celebrated with joy and festivity, fine performances, a number of toasts, followed by a discharge of artillery and small arms.  At night there was a grand exhibition of fireworks and the city was beautifully illuminated.This newspaper article from Philadelphia in 1777 went on to say: "Thus may that glorious and memorable day be celebrated through America by the sons of freedom, from age to age till time shall be no more."  Paraphrased from this article

These recipes are tried and true, I'm sure you will love them as we do.

Happy Independence Day........Happy 4th of July.
Mary




Cheesecake - Vanilla Bean with Vanilla Mousse Topping

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 Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Vanilla Mousse Topping

Well, here it is......a long wait for this one but so worth it.
Creamy, light, vanilla-ee, sweet-but not too, and sooo good.

I've made this several times now...you know how I obsess over every detail until it's perfect.  Well, this is pretty close to that.  In fact, Mr. Spinner's co-worker said, "Best I've Ever Had".   I'll take that as pretty darn good.


The crust is a combination of gluten free arrowroot cookies and pecan shortbread cookies mixed with chopped pecans.  The sweetness of the cookies and nutty pecans add the perfect texture to this dreamy-creamy dessert.  Try changing the cookies for a little twist each time, any cookies will work, just remember the flavor they will add.

Now cheesecake isn't exactly a light dessert in either calories or richness, but I've always used 1/3 less fat cream cheese (neufchatel) and Daisy Brand light sour cream.  I also use skim milk in the mousse. There's no reason (IMHO) to use full-fat if the light version creates the same fantastic result. Bonus!  But Fat-Free is a different story...most often products that are labeled fat free are filled with additives to reproduce the flavor lost when removing the fat.  "Light" is your friend.

The most important layer of this dessert is the cheesecake and it's filled with tiny specs of vanilla from vanilla beans adding the flavor you can't get with extract.  But...I have an easy tip for you, Vanilla Bean Paste.  I'm in love with it. 





I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste which is certified gluten free and you can find it at Williams-Sonoma.  It's a bit pricy, but it's concentrated and lasts awhile.  It makes a world of difference in anything vanilla.  I use it in everything: cakes, frosting, pies, granola, sweet potato casserole, cookies, etc.  If you cannot find the paste, of course just use vanilla beans - they are the original source of flavor afterall and you can't do better than that.






Now, for the special part of this dessert that makes it so decadent...the 'ta-da' factor....the mousse topping.  During the holidays I make little mousse-filled chocolate cups to add to the dessert table.  It's so easy to make and is a special little treat that looks fancy and decadent.  I used this same mousse to top my Vanilla Bean Cheesecake and it created a wonderful vanilla explosion!  Now, the third time I made this dessert I doubled the mousse because it's that good...I figured the more, the better.  It was a bit too rich, so my advice to you is make the mousse as I have listed below, it's the perfect amount.  Just enough to add a special fluffiness to the cheesecake, but not so much that it becomes too rich and overtakes the cheesecake.

The final topping is whipping cream, REAL of course.  Must...use...real...whipping cream.  To me, it doesn't even need to be explained, there is no substitute for real whipping cream, I never use the tub of white stuff, it's not cream.  But...of course, use what you like, I won't judge you.  ; >


And finally, the strawberries.  The third time I made this I was at the cabin having the neighbors over for dinner.  I forgot my camera that weekend and took this with my cell.  I so wished I had my camera as the strawberries with their stems proved a stunning contrast to the creamy layers of deliciousness.  Oh well, a better photo next time.  Here's another taken with my cell showing the layers of yum.


So here it is...My Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Vanilla Mouse Topping...
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
I hope you discover vanilla bean paste.
Happy Sunny Skies and Fun-Filled Days to You and Yours.
~ Mary

This post is linked to gfe Gluten Free Wednesdays


Vanilla Bean Cheesecake with Vanilla Mousse Topping
Ingredients:
Crust:
  • 2 cups gluten free cookie crumbs such as shortbread, arrowroot, ginger snap, etc.  (My favorite is a combination of Pamela's Pecan Shortbread and Midel Arrowroot.)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped pecans (Pecan Chips by Diamond are good)
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 stick of butter melted (1/2 cup) 
Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Combine the cookies in food processor and pulse until the cookies are a fine crumb (or place in a resealable plastic baggie and smash with rolling pin or tenderizer mallet).  Pour into a medium mixing bowl.   Add the chopped pecans and sugar and mix all dry ingredients together.  Add the melted butter and mix with a fork to incorporate the butter and create a moist crumb mixture.

Spray a 9” springform pan with non-stick spray and pour the crumb mixture in the middle.  With the fork, distribute the crumb mixture evenly on the bottom first while pushing the crumbs towards the edges creating a crust.  Press down on all crumbs to form a solid base.

Bake in preheated 350 degree oven for 10-12 minutes.  Remove and allow to cool.
 
Filling for Cheesecake:

  • 2 - (8 oz) packages 1/3 less fat cream cheese, room temp
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup Daisy Light Sour Cream
  • 1 heaping Tbsp Pamela's baking mix (or GF all purpose flour)
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (or 1 whole vanilla bean seeded)
  • 2 large eggs

Directions:

Increase oven temperature to 375 degrees.  Wrap the exterior of the prepared crust springform pan with aluminum foil up the sides.  Fill a large roasting pan with 1 1/2 inches of HOT water and place in the oven while the oven reheats to 375 degrees.

Meanwhile:

Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, sour cream, baking mix, lemon juice, and vanilla until well combined.  Beat in the eggs, one at a time until fluffy, about another 1-2 minutes.
 
Pour the filling into the foil-lined pan over the crust and smooth out evenly.  Gently place the pan into the water bath in oven.  Be careful.  Bake in 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, then reduce to 350 degrees and continue baking  for 35-45 minutes or until the cheesecake is set and very lightly browned on top.  Ovens vary, so check at 35 minutes and add time as needed until set.

Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10-12 minutes.  Place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours to cool (don't cover).  Once cooled, remove outer ring and place on serving platter.

Vanilla Mousse
  • 3/4 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup skim milk
  • 1/2 pkg (3.4 oz) instant vanilla pudding - Jello Brand is gf safe, check ingredients
In a large glass or stainless bowl, whip the whipping cream together with the milk until soft  peaks form.  Add the dry pudding mix to the cream mixture...slowly....and beat until stiff peaks form and the mousse is light and fluffy.

Spread over the cooled cheesecake and smooth to cover the entire top surface.  Chill at least 1 hour until ready to serve.  Top with fresh whipped cream and strawberries just before serving.


Whipping Cream for Top
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tbsp powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp clear vanilla extract
Combine all three ingredients in a medium glass or stainless bowl and whip until stiff peaks form.


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