Anyone who lives within a few miles of Brooklyn, New York, knows Baked. This bakery, owned by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito, has been giving the locals a sugar high with their tempting brownies, cookies, cakes, and other treats. (If you can’t get your fix in person, check out their website and order granola, cookies, marshmallows, or their famous brownies.)
Their latest cookbook, Baked Explorations: Classic American Desserts Reinvented, features American dessert recipes from across the country, including pies, cookies, bars, cakes, and confections. But these recipes are far from ordinary: each one has a distinct twist and grown-up flavors. The Almond Joy Tart incorporates coconut, almonds, and three types of chocolate; Salt-n-Pepper Sandwich Cookies boast fleur de sel, white pepper, chocolate, and vanilla filling; Whiskey Pear Tart gives pears a boozy edge; and New York-Style Crumb Cake takes the ratio of cake to crumb to a new level. Anyone with a sweet tooth and a hankering for unique sweets should grab this book—immediately. (The holidays are coming, and you’ll endear yourself to the home baker in your life with a copy of this cookbook, I swear.)
I was so intrigued by the recipes that I asked Matt and Renato a few questions before trying out a recipe (the insanely decadent Nutella Scones; see below).
Q: What is your favorite ingredient to bake with?
A: Hands down, I am addicted to Malted Milk Powder (King Arthur has a good one), but you can use Ovaltine in a pinch.
Q: Where do you find your dessert inspiration?
A: Grandma, old cookbooks, and intense eating research while traveling.
Q: What is the most common mistake people make when baking?
I think there is this strange tendency to beat the hell out of batters (when they should really just be folded). And nobody really pays attention to butter temperature or they interpret “room temperature” a million different ways.
Q: What is your favorite dessert?
Renato: Mom's Orange Olive Oil Bundt.
Matt: I am fully and wholly a chocolate-malt-anything addict.
Q: What is your idea of perfect dessert happiness?
A: Renato: A latte and something sweet in the afternoon in a Paris café.
Matt: Lately, I am thinking about doughnuts post apple-picking.
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- ¼ cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (like Vahlrona)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into chunks
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- ¾ cup toasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup Nutella (see Note)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a large bowl, whisk the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt until combined.
- Add the butter. Use your fingertips to rub it into the flour until the butter is pea size and the mixture is coarse.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg and cream. Slowly pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir until the dough just comes together. Gently and briefly knead the dough with your hands. Add the hazelnuts and knead gently to incorporate. Flatten the dough into a rectangle approximately 6 by 12 inches (it does not need to be precise) and spread ¼ cup of the Nutella on top in a crisscross pattern. Roll the dough up to make a cylinder about 6 inches long, turn it on its end, and gently flatten it into a disk about 1 3/4 inches high. Do not overwork the dough.
- Cut the dough into 6 or 8 edges and place them on the prepared baking sheet. Bake the scones 18 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, or until a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Do not overbake.
- Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet with the parchment still on it underneath the rack.
Assemble the Nutella Scones:
- Heat the remaining ¼ cup of the Nutella in a microwave until pourable, about 10 seconds on high. Pierce the top of the scones a few times with a fork. Use a spoon (or two spoons—one to scoop, one to scrape) to drip the warm Nutella in a zigzag pattern over the tops of the hot scones. Transfer them to a refrigerator to set for 5 minutes, then serve immediately.
- Most scones have a lifespan of 24 hours or less; however, these scones taste pretty darn good on day two provided you wrap them tightly and store them at room temperature. Makes 6 to 8 scones
Note: Lewis and Poliafito provide a recipe for homemade Nutella if you’re so inclined. Check out the book for the decadent recipe! If you prefer to buy your Nutella, it is available in most grocery stores.