This week I head to Seattle for IFBC, one of the most highly regarded food blogging conferences in the country and the first-ever conference specifically for food bloggers. Founded in 2009 and organized by the great folks at Foodista.com and Zephyr Adventures, this will be a fantastic food-laden adventure!
I haven’t been to Seattle in many years and can’t wait to get back and experience it from a whole new perspective with some of my favorite people! Each time I go to a food conference I have the opportunity to spend time with some dear friends I’ve made over the years and get reacquainted with people I have met at other sessions. It is a chance to get caught up on our lives, share stories and laughter, and strengthen our friendships.
There is no better place than a food conference for meeting people who are just as excited about food as you are. Instead of your friend’s eyes glazing over as you describe your recent trip to the Farmer’s Market, everyone at these conferences sits forward to hear what you’ve found and share their own recent finds. Pardon the pun, but it truly feeds my soul to be surrounded with other food lovers and spending time with people as passionate as I am about cooking, baking and ingredients.
At an event called A Taste of Seattle we will be sampling foods and products from a huge array of vendors including Bob’s Red Mill, U.S. Potato Board, Taylor Shellfish Farms, California Olive Ranch, Tin Roof Cellars, Attune Foods, SafeEggs.com, Chipotle Mexican Grill, Anolon, Alaska Seafood, Ethan Stowell Restaurants, Cupcake Royale, and Guylian Belgian Chocolates.
A really fun and exciting event on the agenda is a surprise evening on the town with visits to a variety of the area’s best restaurants being planned by Urbanspoon. We won’t know where we are going until we arrive. How fun to just show up and know that everything has been planned for us!
One thing I really appreciate about this conference is their attention to detail. They have arranged for gluten-free and vegetarian options at every single event to make sure that those of us with dietary restrictions have plenty to eat and can thoroughly and safely enjoy ourselves. Even the Urbanspoon folks have grouped the gluten-free attendees together and are taking us to a restaurant that is prepared for our requirements.
As astonishing as it sounds, I have attended other very high profile food events where they could care less about dietary restrictions. I have had to go out and find my own food after the events, spending my own money on top of exorbitant entry fees due to the organization’s disregard. Thank you IFBC (especially Sheri Wetherell) for taking the time and effort to take care of us!
Today’s Chocolate Monday recipe is a lovely gluten-free chocolate scone that I drizzled with chocolate glaze for even more chocolate punch. Like a true British scone, these are not particularly sweet. The coarse sugar on the top gives them a nice crunch and a little sweetness and the chocolate drizzle takes them over the top! The Artist decided to have his scone smeared with some Italian orange marmalade and I have to admit, they were pretty darn fantastic that way too.
These are the perfect breakfast or brunch treat to make when you have overnight guests or family visiting. I also like to serve them as an afternoon snack with a cup of tea or espresso to refresh after a day of exploring, shopping, or any other activities. They give me the boost I need before getting back in the kitchen to create dinner for my crowd.
The Artist really dislikes typically over sweet American desserts. When I suggested he take the extra scones to the office to share, he politely told me that that wouldn’t be necessary this week … he is planning on eating them all, LOL!!
Happy Chocolate Monday everyone!
Jane’s Tips and Hints:
If you add too much liquid to the mix, don’t panic, just bake these a little longer. Use your best judgment and I know you’ll be happy!
Even if your gluten-free flour blend includes xanthan gum, adding a touch more will give your scones a little more chew and help reduce the tendency to be crumbly. The problem with blends that include the gums is that you can never be sure how much of it gets into each cup you scoop out of the container. I usually add a pinch to every recipe just to be sure.
Kitchen Skill: How to Fill a Piping Bag
Place the piping tip in the bottom of the piping bag (cut off the tip if using a disposable bag). Fold the top of the bag down creating a large “cuff” at the top. Place the bag, tip end down, into a tall glass if your mixture is a thin liquid. Slip one hand under the cuff and use a spatula to add your mixture to the bag, using your hand to scrape against if needed to clean off the spatula.
Do not over fill the bag. It should be no more than 2/3 full. Fold the top over and then twist the top until it forces the mixture down into the tip. Press from the top and keep twisting the top as needed to keep the bag tightly against the contents.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour or gluten-free all-purpose flour blend
- 1/2 cup cornstarch (if using gluten-free flour)
- 3/4 tsp xanthan gum (if using gluten-free flour that does not already have it included; if there is xanthan in the blend, use just 1/4 tsp)
- 1/4 cup Dutch-process unsweetened cocoa
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup (8 tbsp/1 stick) cold butter, cut into small pieces
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1/2 to 3/4 cup half-and-half or milk, or as needed
- Coarse sugar crystals, optional
- 2/3 cup semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup half & half or milk
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Lightly grease a baking sheet with sides or line it with parchment.
- Prepare the Scones: In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch & xanthan gum (if using gluten-free flour), cocoa, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together. Whisk until completely incorporated.
- With a pastry blender or your fingertips, work the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture is crumbly. Leave some larger pieces of butter for a more tender scone, you do not need to be perfect at this stage, lumpy is good.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the vanilla, eggs, and milk.
- Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients, stirring with a fork until the mixture is evenly moist. If the dough is too dry and you are having trouble getting all the dry ingredients incorporated, add more milk, 1 tsp at a time until the dough comes together.
- Divide the dough in half, form half into a ball in your hands and place on the baking sheet. Pat it gently into a 6-inch circle about 3/4" thick. Repeat with the second half of the dough. Cut each circle into 6 wedge-shaped pieces with a sharp knife, pressing straight down without sawing. Dip the knife in flour (or gluten-free flour) after each cut. Cutting the dough allows the scones to rise higher and in the case of gluten-free, helps it bake all the way through. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sugar if desired.
- Bake the scones for 15 to 20 minutes, until they look dry on top, smell fully baked, and a toothpick inserted into the center of one comes out clean. Remove from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool completely.
- If you won’t eat all of these in one sitting, you can wrap each wedge individually in plastic wrap and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several days. Glaze them once they have returned to room temperature or after you've microwaved them for about 15 seconds, before serving for the best texture.
- Make the Glaze: Place the chocolate chips and half & half or milk in a microwave-safe bowl or small saucepan. Heat in the microwave (or over low heat) until the cream is very hot. Remove from the heat, and stir until the chips melt, and the mixture is smooth.
- Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a small round tip. Drizzle the glaze over the cooled scones. You can reheat individual scones very briefly in the microwave; watch closely so their icing doesn't melt and run.
- Yield: 12 scones
Create a New Tradition Today!
Disclosure: I was not compensated by any of the vendors mentioned above for this post. As always, all opinions are my own.
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