Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze


 
Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze - Giant Craggy Scones filled with pear chunks held together with tender scone dough, and finished with a sticky honey glaze and a generous dose of flaky sea salt.
Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze - Giant Craggy Scones filled with pear chunks held together with tender scone dough, and finished with a sticky honey glaze and a generous dose of flaky sea salt.
Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze - Giant Craggy Scones filled with pear chunks held together with tender scone dough, and finished with a sticky honey glaze and a generous dose of flaky sea salt.
Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze - Giant Craggy Scones filled with pear chunks held together with tender scone dough, and finished with a sticky honey glaze and a generous dose of flaky sea salt.

Hi! Happy New Year! Sorry for going a bit quiet over here - I took some time off, and then couldn’t quite kick myself back into a routine. This time of the year is always a little weird for me, as I tend to get super homesick (I’m sure that the cold doesn’t help either), which tends to trigger anxiety, and I then find it super hard to get anything done. It happens every year and I’m always surprised, until Mum reminds me (every year) that it does, and I have to just remind myself to go a little easy just for a bit. Once I manage to get myself back into routine it usually sorts itself out, and I am super happy to have found my baking mojo again! I can’t wait to share some super fun things with you this year - there are some awesome things lined up!

These roasted pear and salted honey scones are inspired by some I ate when I spent 24 hours in Portland, Maine in October last year. I got up early and made my way to Tandem Coffee and bakery, which is a crazy cute little cafe and bakery. I plopped myself in the corner with a book, ate the best breakfast sandwich I think I will ever have in my life, and then grabbed a scone to go as I was leaving for the airport. And oh man am I glad I did. The scone had giant chunks of pear, held together by tender scone dough, and was topped with a salty honey situation that rounded it all off so, so perfectly. I knew I had to immediately recreate them, so here we are (like, 3 months later haha).

Because pear, like most fruit, releases liquid when it bakes, I decided to roast the pear chunks slightly first to help get rid of some of the moisture, stopping the final product from being too soggy. The cooled roasted pear chunks are then tossed through the scone dough, and stay firm enough after baking to give an amazing variation in texture. The honey on the top adds a lovely sweetness, and then the flaky salt on top cuts perfectly through the honey, while adding crunch. Because of the giant chunks of pear, the scones are slightly more craggy and rustic than regular scones, but I promise you that this is totally made up for by how they taste. They would make a perfect morning or afternoon treat, and are easy enough that you can quickly whip them up at short notice. Enjoy!

A few wee tips:

  • These are a little more craggy than traditional scones, because of the moisture provided by the pear. This also makes them super tender and delicious.

  • Depending on the juiciness of the pear, you may need a little additional liquid in the scones. Add the amount called for in the recipe, then add by the teaspoon as needed, focussing on dry spots. The pears do provide some moisture, so make sure you are aware of this - you won’t need more than 240g (1 cup) of milk total.

  • Because you don’t want to completely squish the pear, I add three quarters of the milk and mix it into the flour mixture, before tossing in the roasted pear chunks. This helps reduce the chances of breaking up the pear as you mix in the rest of the milk.

  • Don’t take the honey too far - you only want to boil it for a minute tops. If you take it too far it turns into a hard caramel that is super hard to eat. I took mine to 240°f / 115°c and then left it to stand, where it thickened nicely.

 

 

Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze

- Makes 8 Large Scones -

Scones
6 large, firmish pears, peeled, cored, and diced (800g chopped pear)
600g all-purpose flour
5 tsp baking powder
Pinch of salt
160g unsalted butter, diced into small cubes and frozen for 15 minutes
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
210g whole milk, divided, plus a little extra if required (see notes)

Honey Glaze
150g honey (I used a raw clover honey)
Flaky Sea Salt to finish

 

- PROCESS -

SCONES

Preheat the oven to 400°f / 200°c. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Spread the diced pear evenly over the lined sheet. Roast the pear for 20 to 25 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pear feels dry and is beginning to turn golden brown in places. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Leave the oven on.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and salt. Add the butter and rub in using your fingertips until it is mainly combined, with a few lumps remaining. Mix the vanilla bean paste into the milk. Add about half of the milk into the dry ingredients, mixing with a spatula or your hands until combined. Add the cooled pear chunks to the bowl, and toss well with your hands to ensure they are evenly dispersed through the mixture.

Add the remainder of the milk, and mix gently with your hands until incorporated, taking care to not crush too much of the pear chunks. You want the dough to be cohesive with no dry parts. Add extra milk a teaspoon at a time if needed, and mix to combine.

Line the baking sheet used for the pears with a fresh piece of parchment paper. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and flatten into a rectangle using your hands. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 8 pieces. Dust the bottoms of the scones lightly with flour and arrange evenly on the prepared baking sheet.

Bake the scones for 20-25 minutes, until they are golden brown on the bottoms and lightly golden brown on top. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire cooling rack. While the scones are cooling on the rack, prepare the honey glaze.

 

SALTY HONEY GLAZE

Place the honey in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until it starts to bubble. Once the honey is boiling, boil for one minute, then remove from the heat and allow to stand in the saucepan for 20 minutes to cool and thicken.

Using a pastry brush, brush the cooled honey thickly onto the top of the scones. Finish with flaky sea salt. Best eaten the day they are made, but leftovers can be stored in an airtight container and reheated in the microwave before eating.

Roasted Pear and Vanilla Bean Scones with Salty Honey Glaze - Giant Craggy Scones filled with pear chunks held together with tender scone dough, and finished with a sticky honey glaze and a generous dose of flaky sea salt.

Black Cocoa Brownie with Oreo German Buttercream


 
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.
Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.

Every now and then I come across an ingredient that is a total game changer. Flaky sea salt, caramelised white chocolate, bergamot extract to name a few. And black cocoa. I first baked with black cocoa a couple of years ago, and was instantly hooked. If you haven’t heard of black cocoa, or used it before, it is essentially cocoa powder that has been super dutched - or super alkalised (the process of making dutch cocoa). It’s what is used in Oreos, and has somewhat taken off as a popular ingredient within the baking world. Something super interesting about cocoa is that regular cocoa powder is acidic, so will react with baking soda to provide lift in baked goods, whereas dutch cocoa or black cocoa has been made basic, so will need to have baking powder in the recipe to give the rise - baking powder is heat activated whereas baking soda needs to react with an acid to create carbon dioxide to rise baked goods. Science!

The most recent thing I made with black cocoa was this black cocoa brownie, which I loaded up with an Oreo German buttercream. The Brownie is ever so slightly adapted from Sarah Kieffer’s book, which is one of my absolute favourites to use for base recipes. Sarah makes her brownies in a 9” x 13” (which I sometimes do too, and it makes the most beautiful crackly top and fudgy brownie), but I made this one in a 9” pan to make it a teeny bit thicker, and subbed the cocoa for black cocoa to give it an oreo taste. I highly suggest making this, but I also highly suggest getting Sarah’s book and making the original - they are some of the best brownies I’ve ever had, and the other recipes in the book are also crazy amazing.

I topped the brownie with an Oreo German buttercream. German buttercream is one of my absolute favourites, and the one I turn to the most - it is silky and not too sweet, and the taste of the butter is mellowed out by the pastry cream base. You can infuse the pastry cream with whatever you like (eggnog buttercream coming at you tomorrow!!), so it is extremely versatile. I made a regular vanilla buttercream, then whipped in some ground Oreo cookies. I loaded it up onto the brownie, and then topped it with some flaky sea salt (the best sprinkles IMO), and some more chopped Oreos. While it takes a teeny bit more work than the standard brownie, I love that it is a wee twist on traditional chocolate brownie. If you aren’t down for making the buttercream, the brownie is also perfect just as it is, or even more perfect with a giant scoop of vanilla bean ice cream. Enjoy! x

A few wee tips:

  • If you cannot find black cocoa, extra dark dutch cocoa or dutch cocoa will work well, it just will not be as dark as black cocoa.

  • I like to make the pastry cream ahead of time, preferably the night before, but if you are in a pinch, you can spread it in a shallow plate or bowl, then pop it in the freezer to chill, stirring often (greater surface area = faster cooling). If you make the pastry cream before you bake the brownies, it should be cool enough by the time they are cool for you to proceed with making the buttercream.

  • During winter sometimes it is hard to get butter to ‘room’ temperature, which may cause your buttercream to split slightly or not totally come together. If this happens (it looks like there are still chunks of butter in it), you can simply microwave a few tablespoons of the buttercream until melted, and then beat into the mixture. The temperature of the melted buttercream should be enough to warm up the mixture enough for it to come together. Don’t freak out! It happens to me all the time when the weather is cold or your butter isn’t quite warm enough.

 

 

Black Cocoa Brownie with Oreo German Buttercream

- Makes about 16 -

Brownie recipe slightly adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book

Black Cocoa Brownie
113g cold unsalted butter
225g dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
50g Black cocoa, or extra dutched cocoa
140g all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
4 large eggs, at room temperature
120g neutral oil
300g sugar
100g brown sugar
2 tsp vanilla

Oreo German Buttercream
110g sugar
12g (1 1/2 Tbsp) Corn Starch
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp salt
190g whole milk
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
340g unsalted butter, at room temperature
15 Oreo cookies, cream filling removed, ground finely in food processor or blender
Extra Oreo cookies for garnish, optional
Flaky Sea Salt to garnish, optional

 

- PROCESS -

BLACK COCOA BROWNIE

Preheat the oven to 350˚f / 180˚c. Grease a 9” square baking tin and line with a parchment paper sling.

Melt together the butter and chocolate in a medium pan over low heat, stirring well until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and mix well to combine, then set aside to cool.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, oil, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix until well combined. Add the chocolate mixture and mix until combined. Gently fold in the dry ingredients until just combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking tin. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until the top of the brownie is set and a skewer inserted comes out with still a few crumbs attached. Remove from the oven and allow to cool completely.

OREO GERMAN BUTTERCREAM

In a bowl, whisk together the sugar, corn starch, egg, egg yolk and salt. In a medium saucepan, heat the milk and vanilla to just shy of a simmer.  Remove from the heat.

Using one hand to whisk constantly, pour half of the hot milk mixture into the egg mixture. This helps to temper the eggs and stop them from scrambling. Whisk until incorporated, and then pour the whole lot back into the saucepan.

Heat the milk and egg mixture over medium heat, whisking constantly, until it begins to bubble. It will thicken quickly. Once it has thickened, cook for one minute, then remove from the heat. Pour into a shallow container or bowl of a stand mixer and press some plastic wrap over the surface to avoid a skin from forming. Refrigerate until cold - at least four hours, preferably overnight. If you need to speed this process up, you can place the pastry cream in a bowl, then place the bowl in an ice bath. Stir frequently.

Fit your mixer with the whisk attachment, and place the pastry cream in the bowl. Whip the mixture on medium until creamy and lump-free. Begin adding the butter, a few cubes at a time, until fully incorporated. It may look curdled at some point but just keep whipping - it will come together! If you are having issues with it coming together, see notes. Add the Oreo crumbs and mix until combined.

ASSEMBLY

Using an offset spatula, spread the Oreo buttercream over the surface of the brownie, adding swoops as desired. Top with flaky sea salt and extra Oreo pieces. Slice using a sharp knife, wiping the blade between each cut.

Store leftovers in an airtight container.

Dark, fudgy black cocoa brownie is topped with an oreo german buttercream and finished with chunks of oreo and flaky sea salt. This is a delicious twist on the traditional brownie.

Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing


 
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean
Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean

Hi hi from Montauk! We are up here for  few days with Richard's Mum and Sisters who are over visiting from home! So far we've eaten a couple of giant salads made with ingredients from the local farm stand, a few fish tacos, and have indulged in a lot of blobbing about. It's going to be so nice to have a wee break from the city!

I just wanted to pop by and share this recipe with you while we are still in stone fruit season here in the states, although it can be made with a jar of your fave preserves. I had some extra puff pastry left over from a project, and a bowl full of amazingly fresh apricots, so pop tarts really were a great mistake waiting to happen. This recipe is incredibly versatile and can really be made with any type of puff pastry - fresh or home made, or a store bought jam, or one you have made yourself. However you choose to make them, I promise they will be delicious. If you haven't made your own jam before I really do encourage you to give it a try - it's super easy and the most amazing way to preserve fruit when it is at its peak long after the season ends. And you can't go wrong with the butteriest, flakiest of puff pastries, and a vanilla bean icing. Enjoy!

A few wee tips:

  • The apricot jam does take some time to cool, so ensure that you leave time for this. If you need it to cool faster, you can place it into a shallow dish to increase the surface area. 
  • Make sure you sterilise your jars and lids - I like to put the jars in the oven at about 300˚f for 15 mins to kill off any germs. I then put the lids in boiling water and leave them in there until I am ready to use them.
  • This recipe is easily customisable - you can use store bought puff, and definitely can use a regular store bought jar of jam or preserves inside. 
  • It is also very easy to scale - the recipe makes about 3 jars of jam, so make as few or as many as you like. They do freeze very well too - freeze until solid then transfer to an airtight container, then bake when you are ready. 
  • I use a homemade puff pastry in this recipe because that is what I had leftover, but since making and shooting these I have also been playing around with a rough puff pastry recipe which is a bit easier to make and just as delicious, so you could absolutely use that too.
  • Apparently people put pop tarts in the toaster? I definitely wouldn't recommend that with these - if you would like to reheat, a few minutes in a preheated oven would help crisp them up a little - just bear in mind the icing might get a bit melty.
 

 

Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing

- Makes about 9 pop tarts -

Pastry Recipe via The Fearless Baker, Apricot jam filling slightly adapted from David Lebovitz

Pastry
1/2 recipe Homemade puff pastry, or 1/2 recipe of Rough Puff pastry, or about 700g good quality store bought puff pastry (the filling recipe makes more than enough jam, so this can be easily scaled depending on how many you want to make, and they freeze very well)

Apricot Jam Filling
1kg apricots, pit removed and roughly chopped
60g (1/4 cup) water
600g sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
pinch of kosher salt
Juice of half a lemon

Vanilla Bean Icing
150g Powdered sugar, Sifted
1/4 cup (4 Tbsp) heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

Egg wash - 1 egg whisked with 1 tbsp milk 

- PROCESS -

APRICOT JAM FILLING

Place a small plate in the freezer to use later to check the gelling of the jam. 

In a Large heavy bottomed pot (I used a dutch oven), bring the apricots and water to a gentle boil, and then cook, stirring often, until the fruit is tender. 

Add the sugar and cook, stirring often, until it is starting to reduce slightly, or reaches 105˚c / 220˚f on a candy thermometer. Skim off any foam if it develops.This generally takes me about 15-20 minutes, and I prefer to use the thermometer method and double check with the plate method.

To double check if the jam is done, place about a tablespoon on the frozen plate, then return to the freezer for 2-3 minutes (remove the jam from the heat while you wait to ensure that it does not overcook). Give the jam on the plate a little nudge with your finger - if it wrinkles, it is done. 

Ladle the finished jam into the sterilised jars, and screw the lids on tightly. Allow to cool completely, then store in the fridge.

 

ASSEMBLY

Preheat the oven to 375˚f / 190˚c. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the puff pastry into a large rectangle. If you are worried about it getting too warm and soft, you can cut it in half and do this in two parts. Using a ruler and a sharp knife or pastry cutter, cut the pastry into 3" x 4" rectangles (7cm x 10cm). You should get approximately 18 rectangles. Place the cut rectangles carefully onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet, and refrigerate for 10 mins to help firm up the pastry slightly. 

Remove the pastry rectangles from the fridge and match up into pairs. Lightly brush the edges of one piece of pastry with egg wash, then place about a tablespoon of apricot jam in the centre. Top with a second piece of pastry, pressing down lightly around the edges to seal, ensuring that there are no air bubbles. Use the tines of a fork to press down around the edges to help seal. Place on a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining rectangles of pastry until all the pop tarts are assembled. 

Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer, and freeze the pop tarts for 15 minutes. Remove from the freezer, and brush lightly with egg wash. 

Bake the pop tarts for 30-35 minutes, until puffy and golden brown. Remove from the oven, cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and allow to cool completely. 

ICING

Combine all of the icing ingredients in a small bowl until a spreadable consistency. Add more powdered sugar or cream if necessary. Spoon over the pop tarts and garnish with sprinkles if desired. 

Best eaten on the same day that they are made. 

Apricot Pop Tarts with Vanilla Bean Icing - a quick apricot jam is enclosed in a buttery, flaky puff pastry, before being finished off with a vanilla bean icing. #poptart #pastry #apricot #jam #apricotjam #vanillabean