Tag Archives: cream cheese

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-Scones

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesOver the weekend, I posted a picture of my Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones to my social media. I guess y’all had forgotten about them because I got all sorts of kind responses, the most enthusiastic of which was in-person, hilarious, and completely unprintable (unless I want to change the tone of this entire website).

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesAnd so, I’m bringing you more scones today—my first since that meyer lemon version last year. I can’t believe I’ve gone that long without a new variation!

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesThese are made with cream cheese too, but also vanilla bean. My dear friend, David, *gave* me a package of vanilla beans on New Year’s Day and I’ve been dreaming up uses for them ever since.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesIn case you are wondering, giving me a surprise package of vanilla beans is a very good way to become my favorite person 🙂

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesBut back to the scones. I made them miniature—small food just tastes better, amiright?!

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesEach mini-scone is about half the size of a traditional scone. That means you can have two, right?

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesI’d be lying if I said I have never eyed the Petit Vanilla Bean Scones at Starbucks. They are adorable, but they are sort of dry and spongy and absolutely not worth the calories.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesVanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesThese Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-Scones are nothing like that mass-produced version though—they’re worth all the calories. All of them.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesThey’re super tender from the combination of butter, cream cheese, and heavy cream, and the edges are crumbly and nubbly and totally delightful.

That’s to say nothing of their huge vanilla flavor, which comes from a combination of vanilla bean and vanilla extract. I love the little black flecks of vanilla bean all over the place ❤

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesAnd the thick, luxurious glaze. Be still my vanilla-loving heart.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-SconesYep. I’d say these were worth the wait.Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-Scones

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-Scones
makes 16 mini-scones

3/4 cup heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold
1/2 scraped vanilla bean
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, very cold, cut into pieces

Glaze:
1 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
1/2 scraped vanilla bean
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
5-6 tablespoons heavy cream

Place oven rack at the center position. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a liquid measuring cup, use a fork to whisk together heavy cream, vanilla bean, and vanilla extract. Refrigerate while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut them into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Fold in heavy cream mixture. The dough should clump when pinched together.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and divide it into two equal pieces. Pat each into a 1-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice each circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush tops with heavy cream. Bake for 7 minutes. Rotate pan back-to-front and bake an additional 3-4 minutes, until just turning golden at the edges. Let scones cool in the pan on a rack while you make the glaze.

Combine confectioner’s sugar, salt, vanilla bean, vanilla extract, and 5 tablespoons heavy cream. Use a fork to whisk ingredients together until smooth. For a thinner glaze, add 1 tablespoon more cream.

Move cooled scones to a rack set over wax paper. Dip scones in glaze and set back on the rack. Glaze will set after about 20 minutes.

Scones are best served the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.

Vanilla Bean Cream Cheese Mini-Scones

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Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese SconesHello!

It’s been a crazy week around here. I’ve been preparing for a couple of catering gigs and the end of the month cake rush. In all the planning, this blog has been put on the back burner, but I’m here today with some spectacular Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese SconesWhy are these little scones so great?

1. Well, first of all, they are full of Meyer lemon flavor. This seasonal fruit tastes like a combination of lemon and orange. Oh my word. So good. I buy mine at Trader Joe’s, but they are all over the place this time of year. I am planning to cook with them constantly before they disappear from shelves!

2. Cream cheese, y’all. Where my other scones are made with all butter, cream cheese steals the show here just like it does in my favorite pie dough. Its flavor in the finished scones is pretty mild, but the texture is just…incredible. These are the best scones I’ve ever made by a long shot. They’re crispy on the edges and insanely soft in the centers. I’m going to have a hard time making scones without cream cheese ever again.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones3. Another magic ingredient? Heavy cream. Plenty of bakers use heavy cream in their scones, but I almost always go for half-and-half. My old standby would definitely work here, but the extra fat in heavy cream helps the middles of these scones to be super tender. It definitely makes these a little heavier than your average scone, but the texture it brings is worth the extra calories.

4. The glaze. I’ll eat scones no matter how they’re adorned, but I am positively in love with this easy two ingredient glaze. The scones themselves are flavored with Meyer lemon zest, while the glaze is made with the juice. Just whisk it into some confectioner’s sugar and drizzle it all over the warm scones.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese SconesI could write more, but I don’t think there’s a need. Run to the market this afternoon, pick up some Meyer lemons, and make some seriously good scones tomorrow morning. Enjoy your weekend!Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones
makes 8 scones 

zest of 1 Meyer lemon
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into pieces
4 ounces (1/2 brick) full-fat brick-style cream cheese, very cold, cut into pieces
3/4 cup heavy cream + more for brushing, very cold

Glaze:
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
3-4 tablespoons fresh Meyer lemon juice

Note: Scone ingredients and dough need to remain cold at all times in order to bake up tender and flaky. If anything becomes room temperature or sticky prior to baking, chill for at least 15 minutes before proceeding as written.

Place oven racks at the top and bottom positions. Preheat oven to 425F. Line a sheet pan with parchment. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine sugar and Meyer lemon zest. Use your fingertips to rub the zest into the sugar. Whisk in flour, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese. Use a pastry blender or two forks to cut them into the dry ingredients until the largest pieces are the size of peas. Fold in heavy cream. The dough should clump when pinched together.

Flour a surface and your fingertips. Turn dough onto the surface and pat into a 1-inch thick circle. Use a large, sharp chef’s knife to slice the circle into 8 wedges. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on prepared pan. Brush with heavy cream. Bake on the bottom rack for 7 minutes. Move pan to the top rack and bake an additional 8 minutes. Let scones cool in the pan on a rack while you make the glaze.

Combine confectioner’s sugar and 3 tablespoons Meyer lemon juice in a small bowl. Use a fork to whisk them together until smooth. For a thinner glaze, add 1 tablespoon more juice. Drizzle glaze over scones. Glaze will set after about 20 minutes.

Scones are best served the day they are made, but will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 48 hours.Meyer Lemon Cream Cheese Scones

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies

 One of the best things about being a baker is watching people enjoy what you’ve made. When you’ve put a few hours (or more!) into making something delicious, it’s always a treat when your friends really love it. I am really lucky–for the last 18 months, I’ve had the opportunity to make cookies for 30+ of my closest acquaintances every Wednesday night. My cookie commitment is one of the highlights of my week. I love bringing in whatever I’ve been working on lately and seeing how it goes over with the crowd. If all the cookies disappear within the first half hour, I know I’ve got something blog-worthy. These Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies have done that three times. Three.

I first made these cookies about a year ago. It was one of those rare days when I was down to a single stick of butter. I sat in front of my refrigerator dreading going to Trader Joe’s at rush hour (read: every single hour they’re open) just for butter. I mean, if I’m going to brave that kind of craziness, I better need at least five different things, and the free sample better be taquitos. I dug around the back of my fridge for something–anything–that might work, and lo and behold, I found a half-brick of cream cheese. I mixed it into some dough, baked some cookies, and headed out the door.

I set these cookies on a platter next to the coffee pot and waited for the crowds. I wasn’t expecting much, if any, fanfare–they were just oatmeal cookies, after all. But life is funny, and less than thirty minutes later the cookies were gone and my friends were raving about the super chewy texture! 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies have been one of the few recipes I’ve repeated with that group, and they disappear in a flash every single time. Last night, they were gone in fifteen minutes flat! 

So, why does cream cheese make these cookies so special? Well, it’s all in the chemistry. In standard oatmeal cookie recipes, eight ounces of butter are softened and beaten into the wet ingredients. The high fat content in the butter allows for the resulting cookies to bake up super tender. There’s plenty of chew from the oats, but the cookie base stays pretty soft.

If, however, you use four ounces of softened butter and four ounces of softened cream cheese, the resulting cookies will be extra chewy. This is because cream cheese has a butterfat content of 35% and a water content of 55%. Butter, on the other hand, has a butterfat content of 84% and a water content of 15%. The fat (butterfat, in this case) is what keeps our cookies from drying out and becoming rocks. It keeps everything moist after the water evaporates and makes the resulting cookies super soft, chewy and delicious. It also keeps them from spreading very much in the oven.

Where standard oatmeal cookie dough has 84% butterfat, this oatmeal cream cheese cookie dough has about 60% butterfat. This means that a) the resulting cookies will be slightly chewier than they are soft, and b) they will have fewer calories, so you can eat more with less guilt 😊 
Whew! That’s a lot of science for a Thursday. Too much.

The point is this: these Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies aren’t your average oatmeal cookies. While you may not be able to really taste the cream cheese, you will notice the extra chewiness…and trust me, you’ll love it. 

 

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4oz full fat cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

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

In a small mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat softened butter and cream cheese until light and fluffy. Beat in dark brown and granulated sugars, followed by eggs and vanilla. Mix in flour mixture in two installments, scraping the bowl as necessary. Beat in oats in two installments, followed by chocolate chips.

Drop dough onto prepared pans by the tablespoon, keeping them about 2 inches apart (the cookies won’t spread much). Bake 9-11 minutes, until no longer raw-looking. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before transferring to a rack to cool completely. Repeat baking process until all dough has been used.

Cookies will keep covered at room temperature for up to a week.

Cream Cheese Pie Dough

imageThis was a big weekend in New York City. It was Halloween, which is always a production (I skipped it). It was the weekend of the New York City Marathon. And most importantly (to me anyway), it was the beginning of pie season! I celebrated by making three apple pies with my friends, Liz and Kat, and watching the final game of the World Series while eating too much pizza. But back to pie season–it’s wonderful time of year when we make and eat pie for two months straight and don’t care who knows it! The holidays demand pie, and I am happy to oblige. Between now and Thanksgiving, I’m going to post three pie recipes! Make sure to check back each week–you may just find your new favorite holiday dessert. But before we get to the pies themselves, we have to talk about crust.

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Pie crust is notoriously intimidating. If you let it get even the slightest bit warm before it goes in the oven, it loses flakiness. If you don’t add enough liquid, it’s crumbly. If you add too much liquid, it’s a sticky mess. Even if you get the dough right, there’s the rolling, transferring to the pie plate, and crimping. And there are so many options! Butter, shortening, ice water, buttermilk, vodka, vinegar, sugar, no sugar–it’s enough to make your head spin before you’ve ever turned on the oven! All that said, the method is very simple: cut cold fat into dry ingredients, stir in cold liquid, knead and chill, roll and bake. That’s it. Simple. But not easy.

For years, I’ve used Deb Perelman’s All Butter, Really Flaky Pie Dough. It’s an excellent recipe, and her accompanying pie tutorials simply cannot be beat. But I am one of those people who can’t leave perfection alone, so last April I threw some cream cheese in there, just to see what would happen. It was a good decision. The combination of cream cheese and butter guarantees a rich, flaky crust–it never turns out dry. The cream cheese also allows for easy rolling. It helps prevent tears–this dough can be flipped and turned and rolled and cut every which-way, and it almost always remains intact. If you do get a tear, just patch it back together with your fingertips–no problem! Instead of using ice water in my dough, I am partial to cold buttermilk. While ice water would do, it adds no flavor and makes this particular crust a little tougher than I’d like. We need acid to make things tender, and if we’re going to use one, it should add a little flavor. Buttermilk is the answer (isn’t it always?). And there is no question as to how much liquid we’ll need in this crust–it’s 1/4 cup every single time. There is no guess-work here!

imageimageWe have to talk about one more thing: the food processor. So many people love to mix up their dough by pulsing everything until it comes together, but it’s never worked for me. I either get a crumbly crust, or a tough, over-worked mess. I use a pastry blender (pictured above). It allows you to get a feel for the dough while you are putting it together, rather than having to guess while looking at your ingredients through a wall of plastic. It takes the guess-work out of the mixing. Pastry blenders are roughly $5, and they can be used for lots of things: pie (obviously), biscuits, even guacamole and mashed potatoes! Get one–you’ll love it.

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imageimageimageThe dough begins with mixing together flour, sugar, and salt. Then, using your pastry blender, cut 8 ounces of butter and 8 ounces of cream cheese into the flour mixture. Next, stir in 1/4 cup of cold buttermilk, knead it all together for a minute or two, wrap it in plastic, stick it in the fridge, and you’re done…for an hour. Once the chilling time is over, place one disc of dough on a well floured surface. With a floured rolling pin, press down on the dough, rolling in one direction a few times. Turn the dough 90 degrees, and roll again. Repeat this until your dough is at least twelve inches in diameter. If it starts to stick to your surface or your rolling pin, dust with more flour. If it gets warm, chill it for ten minutes before starting where you left off. To transfer it to your pie plate, gently fold it into quarters, and place it in the pan with the scraggly edges hanging over the edge. Unfold the dough, and voila! The crust is in the pan. Trim the edges to 1/2 inch of overhang. Then fill with your favorite filling. If it’s a single crust pie, you can crimp the edges and put the pie in the oven. If you want a double crust pie, put the filled crust in the fridge while you roll out the second crust just like you did the first one. Cut it into strips if you want a lattice (more on that very soon!), or leave it whole if you want the whole thing covered. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch, crimp the edges, cut a few vents (if it’s fully covered), and it’s ready for the oven. Preheat the oven only AFTER you have finished assembling the pie. Now, you are roughly one hour from a hot homemade pie coming out of your oven!

Check back later this week for the first of my three pie recipes this month!

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Cream Cheese Pie Dough
makes two crusts, enough for one double-crust or two single-crust 9″ pies

2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (8 ounces) unsalted butter, very cold, cut into cubes
1 cup (8 ounces) full-fat cream cheese, very cold, cut into cubes
1/4 cup buttermilk, very cold

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, and salt. Add cold butter and cream cheese into the bowl. With your pastry blender, cut the ingredients together until the largest bits of butter and cream cheese are the size of small peas. Add the buttermilk, and give it a quick stir to distribute. Put your hands* in the bowl to knead the mixture until it comes together.* Form the dough into two discs, and wrap them individually in plastic wrap. Chill for one hour, or up to two days.

Flour a surface and a rolling pin. Take one disc of dough out of the refrigerator, unwrap it, and place it on the surface. Press the dough with the rolling pin. Roll it in one direction 3-4 times, and then turn it 90 degrees. Roll in one direction 3-4 times. Repeat rolling and turning until dough is at least 12 inches in diameter, dusting with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking.

Fold dough in quarters, and place in a pie plate with the scraggly edges hanging over the outside of the pan. Unfold the dough to fill the pan. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Fill crust with filling and chill for at least 15 minutes. From here, there are two options.

  1. For a single crust pie, crimp the edges, and brush them with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F.* Bake for 45 minutes to one hour, covering the crust with foil halfway through. Let cool at least three hours.
  2. For a double crust pie, roll out the top crust the same way that you did the bottom crust. Cut into strips for a lattice,* or leave whole to cover the whole pie. Trim the excess to 1/2 inch. Crimp the edges and brush the crust with additional buttermilk. Chill for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 375F. Cut vents if the top crust is whole. Bake for 45 minutes to one hour. Let cool for at least three hours.

Notes:

  1. If your hands are warm, run them under cold water for thirty seconds (and then dry them) before kneading.
  2. There may be a tablespoon or two of unincorporated ingredients. Just pat them onto the discs before wrapping them in plastic wrap. They will incorporate during rolling.
  3. Do not preheat your oven until after your pie is completely assembled. This is very important!

Cream Cheese Pie Dough