Parmesan & Prosciutto Scones

Parmesan & Prosciutto SconesLet me start off by saying thank you for the enthusiastic reaction to On Weight Loss & Eating Habits. It was far beyond my wildest expectations! Thanks to all who liked, shared, commented, and gave feedback. That post is now far-and-away the most popular on this site.

And now, let’s talk about scones. I love a good scone. Soft, buttery centers and crunchy, nubbly edges? Sign me up.

Parmesan & Prosciutto SconesThere are already three scone recipes on this site: a Blackberry Lime recipe that would be a great way to use all those delicious summer berries, a Salted Grapefruit variety that’s perfect for fall and winter, and a Gingerbread version that you should definitely plan to make over the holidays. But today, I’m delving into the savory side of things with these fantastic Parmesan & Prosciutto Scones.

This recipe is inspired by some scones I had at Darwin’s, a small chain of coffee shops in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Two weeks ago, when my parents and I were helping my little sister move into her new apartment, one of my jobs was to keep everyone caffeinated. I popped into Darwin’s many times for large iced coffees and sustenance. Aside from trying many of their breakfast sandwiches (all fantastic, by the way), on the morning that we went insane and decided to paint my sister’s room, I picked up three Parmesan & Prosciutto scones. Cheesy and full of salty prosciutto, they were just what we needed to keep us from collapsing.

Parmesan & Prosciutto SconesParmesan & Prosciutto SconesBut, being a baker, I had to nitpick. The scones were certainly good, but far too salty. They needed a little sweetness to balance out all of the cheese and ham. I decided right then and there that I would make them myself with a few adjustments, and two weeks later, here they are.

Parmesan & Prosciutto SconesParmesan & Prosciutto SconesAnd oh, are they ever good. They’re super buttery, full of Parmesan and bits of salty prosciutto, and have a little bite from freshly ground black pepper. A couple of tablespoons of honey round out the flavor, keeping everything savory, but not too salty. These scones are just right.

My Parmesan & Prosciutto Scones are better than those that inspired them, if I do say so myself. They’re perfect for a weekend breakfast, or topping with thick slices of tomato for the best tomato sandwich of your life.Parmesan & Prosciutto SconesParmesan & Prosciutto SconesParmesan & Prosciutto Scones
makes 8 scones

2/3 cup whole milk + more for brushing, very cold
2 tablespoons honey
1/2 teaspoon prepared Dijon mustard
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
1 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese
4-ounces prosciutto, sliced into 1/4-inch pieces
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces

For Topping:
3 tablespoons whole milk
1/2 teaspoon honey
1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for after baking (optional)

Preheat oven to 425F. Line a baking sheet with parchment or a silicone baking mat. Set aside.

Make the scones. Pour whole milk into a measuring cup. Whisk in honey and mustard. Chill while you prepare the other ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, salt, and black pepper. Stir in Parmesan cheese and prosciutto, using your fingers to separate any pieces that are stuck together. Use a pastry blender to cut in cold butter until the largest pieces are the size of small peas. Stir in milk mixture with a silicone spatula or wooden spoon until a shaggy dough forms.
Turn dough out onto a floured surface. Use your fingertips to shape dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Slice into eight wedges with a large chef’s knife. Remove cut scones to prepared baking sheet.

Top the scones. In a small bowl, whisk together milk and honey. Brush the mixture over the tops of the cut scones. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Bake scones for 13-15 minutes, moving the pan from the top to the bottom rack at the 7 minute mark. Sprinkle scones with more cheese after baking, if desired. Let scones cool on the pan for ten minutes before serving.

Scones are best the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days.

On Weight Loss & Eating Habits

Warning: This is a very long post.

It was recently suggested that I write a post about how I maintain my weight.

At first, I thought this was ridiculous. I write a baking blog that is devoted almost exclusively to making food you really shouldn’t eat everyday. Who am I to talk about healthy eating and exercise and making good choices? I’m certainly not a nutritionist or dietician, but the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my story is valid.

July 2016
You see, despite the vast amount of sugary treats I bake and post on here, I’m what most people consider skinny. Dare I say, I am a small person. But I haven’t always been. In fact, my last major weight loss–I say “last” because there have been many–coincided with my learning to bake. Yes, nearly three and a half years ago I weighed 65 pounds more than I do now. My dress size was twelve sizes larger than it is presently, and shopping for pants…well, it was never fun. Seven years prior, I had lost fifty pounds, but life had caught up with me. I had finished the degree that had brought me to New York, gotten a desk job, learned to cook, and become a bit of a party girl. I was walking less and eating and drinking more.

It’s not that I hadn’t noticed it happening: the gradual tightening of jeans, that my bras were too small, or that I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror. No, I knew it was happening. But I figured that I’d eat “better” and it would all come off. I tried a few crazy diets. One involved some super disgusting leek soup, and I’d like to formally apologize to everyone who witnessed the two weeks where I went on a self-imposed “no wheat/no meat/no dairy” diet. Oh, and for those four days where I cut out caffeine. Oof.

August 2010
I’d always lose some weight, but the second I started eating whatever I had previously banned, it all came back.

I gradually became okay with my larger body. To that point, I was the largest I’d ever been, but also the happiest. I had fallen in love with a wonderful man. I had (finally) started to get my life together. I was beaming. I really didn’t mind being a “bigger” woman. All this is to say, I never actually set out to lose the weight again. The number on the scale had no bearing on my happiness or emotional well-being, and it doesn’t to this day.

August 2012
Sometime around the spring of 2013, I was living with that afore-mentioned wonderful man in a nice neighborhood in Brooklyn, when I accidentally made a major life decision and learned to bake. It was just a hobby to distract me from another major decision I had made: to take a break from drinking. Alcohol wasn’t making my life any better. In fact, it was making it worse. I was lethargic and tired, unreliable, and prone to emotional outbursts. Cutting out the booze for a while turned out to be a long-term lifestyle change, and all of those unappealing behaviors suddenly ceased to occur.

As anyone who has ever given up alcohol can tell you, one of the immediate effects is that your body craves sugar. This makes perfect sense since alcohol metabolizes as sugar–you can’t just take all of that away without your body screaming for it. Suddenly, I wanted all of the cookies. All of them. And so I ate a lot of cookies. But since I prided myself on my cooking and that I ate well at home, I was disappointed in the quality of baked goods at the local grocery stores. I decided I’d stop purchasing subpar baked goods and learn how to make vanilla wafers. That’s how the baking started.

June 2013
That’s a lot of information to take in, but it’s how I got to where I am today. Replacing alcohol with baked goods doesn’t seem like a way to lose weight, but that’s kind of how it began for me. I’d go through two bottles of seltzer while making chocolate chip cookies. At first I would feel the need to eat the cookies throughout the day, stopping for a treat whenever I walked by the Tupperware they were packed into. But as time went on and I baked more and more, I stopped seeing the finished products as real food and more as a crafting project. Like “Hey, I made these! Aren’t they pretty?! Also, they’re edible and totally delicious.”

I know that sounds absolutely insane, but that’s what happened: a switch flipped in my brain, and suddenly baked goods and sugar weren’t foods I felt the need to gorge myself on, but instead, a nice way to end a meal or a day.

July 2013
That mindset started making its way into all my interactions with food. I slowly learned what an appropriate serving looks like and how to read my body’s signals that I was full. I read about low-fat dairy and all the stabilizers it contains, and stopped buying it. In fact, I stopped buying anything low-fat and cut out nearly all heavily-processed foods. I learned to make granola and started eating 1/2 cup with yogurt and fruit for breakfast nearly everyday. I read about the addictive qualities of artificial sweeteners, and slowly weaned myself off a four-Splenda-per-coffee habit until I drank the stuff black. In that vein, I cut my Diet Coke consumption down to one every two weeks, and brought my general caffeine intake down from four large coffees a day to two.

That caffeine slashing really helped–I sleep more now, and it’s really hard to accidentally overeat when you’re sleeping.

January 2014
All these changes had an effect on my energy, and I started walking for pleasure more than anything else. I took a nanny job in a nearby neighborhood, and would leave home at 7:20am everyday to take the forty minute stroll to work. I’d spend the entire time daydreaming about things I wanted to bake, listening to podcasts, and taking in this amazing place where I get to live. This little bit of exercise helped me so much–it helped me to be more present. Also, exercise releases endorphins. Endorphins make you happy. Happy people don’t kill their husbands. They just don’t. <–Kidding. Name that movie.

The walking did make me happy though, and helped me to have some gratitude for everything around me. The alone time I got while walking to work set the tone for the whole day, improving my interactions and my level of self-care.

Note: This post is getting really long. If you’ve stuck with me this far, thank you.

June 2014
In the late summer of 2014, I suddenly realized that my clothes didn’t fit. I’ve never been one to go shopping all the time or keep up with fashion trends, but I suddenly realized that belts that had once clung for dear life around my ribcage were now loose around my hips. I saved up a little money and took myself shopping. Before I had gained back all the weight from my previous weight loss, the smallest sizes I had ever worn were a medium in dresses and a 6/8 in pants. I went into a store and grabbed a few dresses in a medium, assuming they’d fit. They didn’t–they were huge on me. I continued leaving the dressing room for smaller sizes in disbelief. Over the course of sixteen months, I had shrunk down to an extra-small size 2.

I walked home in a daze with seven new items in tow. I couldn’t imagine how I would ever maintain this weight. Heck, I couldn’t understand how I had gotten to this weight in the first place. I could not be this person–I had been bigger my entire adult life. I was an impostor walking home with a bag of clothes that certainly couldn’t belong to me. I couldn’t wear a size 2. But I did and I do.

I have maintained this weight loss for two years, despite all of the baked goods I make, all the chocolate malts, and all of the crazy changes I’ve had in my personal life. In the last two years, I have changed careers, started a business, amicably ended a meaningful long-term romantic relationship, and still maintained my weight. Where I used to eat my feelings, I now channel them elsewhere.

July 2016
I still love to eat, obviously. I mean, I have a food blog. But I don’t stress myself out about what I put into my body. Today, I eat a high protein, high fat, high fiber diet. Yes, you read that right. High fat. Together with the protein, it keeps me full all day long. Plus, fat makes things taste good.

Here is how I maintain my weight today:

  • I eat a substantial breakfast everyday. As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. If what I eat is only going to keep me full for two hours, I won’t be at my most energetic or high-functioning levels for the rest of the day. Substantial doesn’t mean unhealthy or full of sugar. For me, it means yogurt and granola, or two eggs and a salad or fruit. Lunch is usually avocado and/or tomato on whole grain toast. Dinner is whatever sounds good, whether it’s Everyday Cassoulet or a double bacon cheeseburger.
  • In that same vein, I don’t deny cravings. If I want pizza, I am going to eat pizza. Just a slice or two kills the craving, and then I go on with my day. If I deny myself what I want, I will binge on it at some point. Eating a whole pizza is not good for my body or for my mind. I eat what I want and then go back to eating how I should, and I don’t feel one bit of guilt about it.
  • I don’t buy processed food beyond crackers, chips, and bread. Generally speaking, if I want to eat something, I make it. If I need to buy something pre-made, I check the list of ingredients to make sure I know and can pronounce each and every one.
  • I don’t eat when I’m not hungry, and I don’t eat food just because it’s there. This is simple. I do not have to eat food just because it’s available. If I am hungry, I eat. If I’m not, I don’t.
  • I don’t drink my calories. I have a Diet Coke every so often, but other than that, it’s just water and seltzer.
  • I walk 30-90 minutes everyday. This is made easier by living in a city that is basically built for walking. By getting out and moving for at least half an hour everyday, I have a chance to clear my head while also burning some calories. I am lucky in that I work a fifteen minute walk from my apartment–this guarantees 30 minutes of exercise everyday.
  • I save room for dessert. I love baking and eating sweets. I don’t eat the whole batch of whatever I’ve made (most of it is shared or given away), but I also don’t deny myself. Eating cookies and ice cream and pie is one of life’s simplest pleasures, and I love having something sweet at the end of the day.

Now, this is just what works for me. I am not a nutritionist or a dietician, so I am in no position to tell anyone how to eat or exercise. Not everyday falls squarely into these guidelines (there are exceptions to every rule), but most do. By allowing myself to eat what I want, even if it’s just a little bit, I am free to enjoy my life without worrying about calorie counts or if that one piece of cake is going to send me into a binge.

It’s taken me a long time to get to this point, but I’m happy with who I am and the relationship I have with food today. I never thought baking would lead me to a healthier lifestyle, but it has. Thank you for letting me share it with you.

July 2016

Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

It’s gotten a little quiet around here over the last week, but for a good reason.

My little sister, Eliot (E3), moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to begin her masters degree at Harvard. Yes, that Harvard. I literally cannot stop bragging about her–so proud. 

In true Davenport style, we couldn’t let her do a cross-country move alone. Nope. My parents flew in and I took the bus up from New York, and we all set to work cleaning, painting, and organizing until we could barely move. <–Thank goodness Eliot is a yoga teacher.

After all the unpacking was done, we took a couple of days to enjoy Boston. On Saturday, our parents went to the airport, and Eliot and I packed up and hopped a bus to New York so she could have a mini-vacation before orientation starts.

When Eliot comes to New York, we don’t go sightseeing or do anything special beyond eat and make bad jokes. We ate tacos and watched Humphrey Bogart movies with my friend, VJ. We ate fancy pastries at Bien Cuit. We walked through Central Park and dropped a small fortune on hair products at Lush. She had never made pizza before, so we tested my pizza dough recipe (coming soon!). We watched all of New Girl season 2, even though we’ve seen it enough times to quote it beginning-to-end. Eliot and I don’t need to be entertained to have a great time together. We think we’re hilarious.

In all the chaos of Eliot’s move and visit, my responsibility to this little blog isn’t the only thing that went by the wayside. I woke up Monday morning remembering that I owed my roommate, Ed, some cookies. He did me a favor two weeks ago–he went to the post office to retrieve my new blender–and all he’d asked in return was that I make him some Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies. Once Eliot and I were good and caffeinated, we hopped over to Sahadi’s for rainbow sprinkles and came home to make dough. A few hours later, we were all biting into soft, buttery sugar cookies coated in crunchy rainbow sprinkles 😊

Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies are simple to put together. There are no unusual ingredients, save for a little light brown sugar to keep the finished cookies extra-soft. The dough is chilled before being scooped, rolled in a bowl of sprinkles, and baked until puffy. The middles are chewy, and the sprinkle coating gives every bite a bit of crunch. And of course, they are just about the most cheerful, colorful cookies in the world. Aren’t they adorable?!

These cookies are perfect for popping into school lunches, taking to parties, or saying “thanks” after sending your roommate into the doom-zone that is the post office. I ate two after putting Eliot on the bus back to Boston this morning–I needed a little pick-me-up after sending my sidekick home. Thank goodness she only lives four hours away now, so I can show up at her door with Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies whenever the mood strikes.


Super Sprinkle Sugar Cookies

makes about 2.5 dozen cookies

2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup sprinkles,* for coating

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter until fluffy and lighter in color. Beat in granulated and light brown sugar, followed by egg and yolk. Mix in vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Cover dough with plastic wrap and chill for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment. Set aside.

Place sprinkles in a small bowl. Scoop chilled dough in 1 1/2 tablespoon* (1 tablespoon + 1 1/2 teaspoons) increments, and roll into balls. Roll dough balls in sprinkles until fully coated. Place coated dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake cookies 10-11 minutes, until puffy. Let cool on baking sheets for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1.  I used nonpareils for the sprinkles in this recipe. Jimmies may be substituted. For information on the differences between the two, see this post.

2.  I used a medium cookie scoop.

Chocolate Malts

Chocolate MaltsI have a bit of a chocolate malt problem. I get serious cravings for them once or twice a month, and totally lose my mind until I wind up getting one at a diner or the Shake Shack by my apartment.

The trick to ordering chocolate malts is to always, always ask for extra malt. There’s nothing more dissatisfying than ordering a malt and ending up with something indistinguishable from a regular chocolate milkshake…not that there’s anything wrong with regular chocolate milkshakes. Except that they’re not chocolate malts!

Chocolate MaltsAnyway…I bought myself a blender last week and decided it was high time I start making malts at home. Even though I knew the gist of the recipe (ice cream, malted milk powder, and milk), I looked online to check out proportions. I saw many recipes that used chocolate ice cream as the base, and that was my plan too, until I ran across a method from Sweet Moses, an old-fashioned soda fountain in Cleveland, Ohio.

Sweet Moses uses vanilla ice cream as its base, flavoring the malt with chocolate syrup. The measurements and proportions in the article are a little on the vague side, so I picked up all the necessary ingredients and spent a night testing chocolate malts until I got the recipe just right. <–Yes, it was as awesome as it sounds.

Below is the recipe for the absolute best chocolate malt I have ever had. And I’ve had a lot of chocolate malts–two per month for eight years, so I’m sort of an expert (or something). My recipe is rich and chocolaty with a pronounced malt flavor, and perfect for eating with a spoon or a straw (or both!). 

The secret here is all in the ingredients. There are only four of them, so make sure they’re good quality.

Chocolate MaltsChocolate Malts

  • Use whole milk. Don’t go for skim or even 2%. It just won’t taste right without the fat content in whole milk. Remember that this is an indulgence, not an everyday thing. Live a little.
  • There are two major brands of malted milk powder: Carnation and Horlicks. I prefer Carnation, but buy whichever you like.
  • As with the malted milk powder, buy whichever chocolate syrup you enjoy most. I am partial to the richer dutch process cocoa flavor of Hershey’s Special Dark.
  • Buy high-quality vanilla ice cream. As with the milk, resist trying to lower the fat content here. Again, this is a treat, not an everyday food. Using really good ingredients and treating them well will ensure a good chocolate malt. Trying to lower the calorie count will just disappoint you in the flavor department, and quite possibly send you to Shake Shack to order a $6 chocolate malt with extra malt. Make it the right way at home, and save your $6 for something else 😊

Chocolate MaltsAs for the mixing, blend together the milk, chocolate syrup, and malted milk powder. Then add the vanilla ice cream and alternate pulsing it together in your blender and stirring with a long spoon. This will keep the malt thick enough that you could eat it with a spoon, but thin enough that it can be sipped through a straw. If you want a thicker malt, add more ice cream. For a thinner malt, add more milk. Top it with whipped cream and extra chocolate syrup, or enjoy it as-is.

This is your chocolate malt. Make it exactly the way you like it.

Chocolate Malts
Chocolate Malts
adapted from Sweet Moses
makes about 2.5 cups, or 2-3 small milkshakes

1/3 cup whole milk
6 tablespoons malted milk powder
6 tablespoons chocolate syrup
1 pint (2 cups) vanilla ice cream

For Serving:
lightly-sweetened whipped cream
chocolate syrup

Combine milk, malted milk powder, and chocolate syrup in a high-powered blender. Pulse to combine. Add vanilla ice cream, and alternately pulse and mix by hand with a long spoon until combined and thick. Add more ice cream for a thicker shake, or more milk for a thinner one.

Divide into two or three small glasses. Serve with whipped cream and additional chocolate syrup, if desired.

Raspberry Fudgesicles {Vegan & Sugar Free}

 Everyone has that one friend who can’t eat anything.

Well, they can obviously eat something, but it’s rarely anything you can enjoy together. 

For me, that’s my pal, VJ. She’s a gluten-free vegan. Of course, I am one of those people who can and will eat just about anything. When we became friends, I worried that we’d never be able to eat together. Food is such an important part of all our lives: beyond preparation and consumption, there is the social aspect of sharing a meal with someone else. Due to our different diets, I wasn’t sure we’d ever be able to happily eat at the same restaurant or make dinner together. 

But I shouldn’t have worried. Not only is VJ a wizard when it comes to navigating menus for options that are both gluten-free and vegan, but she straight-up doesn’t care what anyone else at the table is eating as long as they’re having a good time. When we went to Maine last month, she stood on a rickety chair taking action shots while our friend, Liz, and I rushed around the kitchen making pie and Lemon Bars that she couldn’t enjoy. VJ came and sat with me at the Swans Island Post Office at midnight, just so I could use WiFi to post those recipes on this blog. And she regularly reads and shares my posts, even though I rarely make recipes that fall into her dietary parameters. She’s the kind of friend that everyone should be so lucky to have–one who is selfless, flexible, encouraging, and supportive.

VJ, this one’s for you. 

You’ll never believe what’s in these Raspberry Fudgesicles. There’s no dairy, and not one bit of sugar. Nope. Not even a little bit. These ice pops are completely nutritious, but they certainly don’t taste that way! 

 How does that work? It’s simple, really. Coconut milk and avocado keep them creamy. Dates make them sweet. Fresh raspberries and cocoa powder make them delicious! Add to that a bit of vanilla and a few cups of ice cubes and blend until smooth. Pour the mixture into ice pop molds, add popsicle sticks, and freeze for several hours. 

 Once you release your ice pops from their molds and take a taste, you won’t believe that they are actually good for you! These creamy Raspberry Fudgesicles are full of chocolate-raspberry flavor and melt just like those fudgesicles you got from the ice cream truck when you were a kid. Except there’s no need to feel guilty having one of these. Nope! Full of vitamins and minerals, protein and good fats, and completely free of sugar, they’re practically healthy enough for breakfast 😊

My favorite thing about these Raspberry Fudgesicles is that I can share them with just about anyone. Vegan, sugar-free, full of nutrients, and totally delicious, they’re the best way to cool down with your friends this summer. 

 Raspberry Fudgesicles {Vegan & Sugar Free}
makes about 12 standard ice pops

24 Medjool dates, pits removed
1/2 ripe avocado
1/2 cup cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
6 ounces fresh raspberries
1 15 ounce can full-fat coconut milk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
3 cups ice cubes

Combine dates, avocado, cocoa powder, fresh raspberries, coconut milk, and vanilla in a high-powered blender, and blend until smooth. Add ice and blend again until smooth. Divide among ice pop molds and add popsicle sticks. Freeze at least six hours or overnight.

Before enjoying, run molds until warm water for 1-2 minutes before removing ice pops.