TOASTED ALMOND SCONES
THE TRIPLE-WHAMMY flavor hit here is almonds, almonds and almonds: toasted ground almonds and pure almond extract in the dough and sliced almonds on top.
1 cup blanched almonds (whole, slivered or sliced), toasted 2 tablespoons sugar 1 large egg 1/3 cup cold heavy cream 1/4 cup cold whole milk 1/8 teaspoon pure almond extract 13/4 cups all-purpose flour 1 tablespoon baking powder 1/4 teaspoon salt 1 stick (8 tablespoons) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces 1/4 cup sliced almonds (optional)
GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone mat.
Divide the toasted almonds in half. Finely grind 1⁄2 cup in a food processor or blender with the sugar, taking care not to overgrind the nuts and end up with almond butter. Finely chop the other 1⁄2 cup.
Stir the egg, cream, milk and almond extract together.
Whisk the flour, ground almonds and sugar, baking powder and salt together in a large bowl. Drop in the butter and, using your fingers, toss to coat the pieces of butter with flour. Quickly, working with your fingertips (my favorite method) or a pastry blender, cut and rub the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is pebbly. You’ll have pea-size pieces, pieces the size of oatmeal flakes and pieces the size of everything in between—and that’s just right.
Pour the liquid ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a fork just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Don’t overdo it. Stir in the chopped almonds.
Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand, or turn it with a rubber spatula 8 to 10 times. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and divide it in half. Working with one piece at a time, pat the dough into a rough circle that’s about 5 inches in diameter, cut it into 6 wedges and top each scone with a few sliced almonds, if you’re using them. Place them on the baking sheet. (At this point, the scones can be frozen on the baking sheet, then wrapped airtight. Don’t defrost before baking—just add about 2 minutes to the baking time.) Bake the scones for 20 to 22 minutes, or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer to a rack and cool for 10 minutes before serving, or wait for the scones to cool to room temperature.
QUINTUPLE CHOCOLATE BROWNIES
THERE’S A little of every kind of chocolate in these sweet, more-fudgy- thancakey brownies. Following tradition, the batter is made with unsweetened chocolate, but it’s got bittersweet (or semisweet) chocolate, cocoa, milk chocolate chips and a soft white chocolate glaze too. And there are nuts—any kind you’d like, but I hope you’ll try salted cashews or peanuts at least once.
FOR THE BROWNIES 1/2 cup all-purpose flour 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 stick (8 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate, coarsely chopped 3 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped 2 tablespoons strong coffee 1 cup sugar 3 large eggs 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 6 ounces premium-quality milk chocolate, chopped into chips, or 1 cup store- bought milk chocolate chips 1 cup chopped nuts
FOR THE GLAZE 6 ounces premium-quality white chocolate, finely chopped, or 1 cup store- bought white chocolate chips 1⁄3 cup heavy cream
GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a 9-inch square baking pan with foil, butter the foil and place the pan on a baking sheet. Sift together the flour, cocoa and salt.
TO MAKE THE BROWNIES : Set a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and add, in the following order, the butter, the two chocolates and the coffee. Keeping the pan over low heat, warm just until the butter and chocolates are melted—you don’t want the ingredients to get so hot they separate, so keep an eye on the bowl. Stir gently, and when the mixture is smooth, set it aside for 5 minutes. Using a whisk or a rubber spatula, beat the sugar into the chocolate mixture. Don’t beat too vigorously—you don’t want to add air to the batter—and don’t be concerned about any graininess. Next, stir in the eggs one at time, followed by the vanilla. You should have a smooth, glossy batter. If you’re not already using a rubber spatula, switch to one now and gently stir in the dry ingredients, mixing only until they are incorporated. Finally, stir in the milk chocolate chips and the nuts. Scrape the batter into the pan.
Bake for about 35 minutes, or until a thin knife inserted into the center comes out streaked but not thickly coated. Transfer the pann to a cooling rack and let the brownies rest undisturbed for at least 30 minutes. (You can wait longer, if you’d like.) Turn the brownies out onto a rack, peel away the foil and pllace it undddder another rack—it will be the drip catcher for the glaze. Invert the brownies onto the rack and let cool completely.
TO MAKE THE GLAZE: Put the white chocolate in a heatproof bowl. Bring the heavy cream to a boil and pour it over the chocolate. Wait 30 seconds, then, using a rubber spatula, gently stir until the chocolate is melted and the glaze is smooth. Hold a long metal icing spatula in one hand and the bowl of glaze in the other. Pour the glaze onto the center of the brownies and use the spatula to nudge it evenly over the surface. Don’t worry if it dribbles over the edges, you can trim the sides later (or not). Refrigerate the brownies for about 20 minutes to dry the glaze. Cut into 16 squares, each roughly 21⁄4 inches on a side.
MAKES 16 BROWNIES
SERVING: Serve straight up— whipped cream or ice cream is unnecessary with these. Well, a little ice cream is nice—why not?
STORING: The brownies can be put back in their baking pan, wrapped (without touching the glaze) and kept at room temperature for about 3 days or frozen—glaze and all—for up to 2 months.
THIS IS a simple cake in every way. You mix it in minutes by hand and bake it in an ordinary square pan (I use a nonstick Baker’s Secret pan from the supermarket), first spreading half of the cinnamon batter into the pan, adding chocolate bits and a mixture of cinnamon, sugar and instant espresso, then the rest of the batter. The cake gets a delicious and equally simple frosting, a melt of chocolate and butter. It’s pretty enough in a homey way, but there’s something about the softness of the cake, the warmth of its cinnamon flavor, the way the swirl of cinnamon, sugar, chocolate and coffee melts into the cake and that really good frosting that makes it as good at a brunch as it is as a midnight snack.
For the cake 11/4 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar 1 tablespoon plus 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 11/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour 2 teaspoons baking powder Pinch of salt 3/4 cup whole milk 2 large eggs 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 1 stick plus 2 tablespoons (10 tablespoons) unsalted butter, melted and cooled 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 1/2 cup store-bought mini chocolate chips
For the frosting 6 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 21/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 4 pieces
GETTING READY: Center a rack in the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan and line the bottom with parchment or wax paper. Place the pan on a baking sheet.
TO MAKE THE CAKE : Stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar, 21/2 teaspoons of the cinnamon and the espresso together in a small bowl.
In a large bowl, whisk ...