Apple Pie Biscuits with Honey Butter by Chelsea Zwieg

Growing up in the north of the north, I'm pretty uneducated when it comes to biscuits. I can preach a sermon on frozen custard to anyone who will listen and I like to think that my cheese eating ability rivals that of a the giant mouse at Chuck E. Cheese. But the upper midwest has left me woefully uninformed on all things related to biscuits. I think the first time I had biscuits that weren't a Thanksgiving side dish made by the Pillsbury dough boy was at the Cracker Barrel with my 5th grade basketball team when I ordered biscuits and gravy and just about died because I thought they were so good. Not sure what was going through my mind right then because biscuits and gravy just don't do it for me anymore. I also thought I was pretty good at basketball at that time.....clearly I had a bit of self discovery coming my way. I will tell you what does do it for me though: apple pie biscuits dripping with melty honey butter. And I will not be changing my mind about that. 

For someone who has had very few biscuits, I have quite a few opinions about them. Shocking, I know. I like them to be big, square and rustic looking. None of this rolling out and cutting into a circle nonsense. How am I supposed to sneak a fresh out of the oven knobby, golden brown, cinnamon sugar covered corner off of a perfect looking circle? No, sir. Also, I think they need friends. Something in them (blueberries, cheese, APPLES) or sandwiched between them (breakfast sandwich things, preferably). Just a plain buttermilk biscuit bums me out a little. 

So these biscuits. They are definitely not the kind to bum me out. They are full of apples sauteed in butter, brown sugar and cinnamon, baked with a dusting of cinnamon sugar and d then smothered in the most delicious honeyed brown butter. Finally, when you cut them open and butter them up, I would highly recommend spooning some more sauteed apples all over the place. If you didn't eat them all while the biscuits are baking, that is (good luck there). 

Perhaps someday my tastebuds will morph and I will become a biscuit and gravy loving Cracker Barrel regular. For today, I'll just eat my apple pie biscuits in pure honey butter heaven. 

Apple Pie Biscuits

Makes 6 

Adapted from Food and Wine

| Ingredients | 

  • 1 cup butter
  • 1 large apple (I used Pink Lady), diced
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 2 1/4 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk, chilled
  • 2 tbsp. honey

| Instructions

  • Preheat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. 
  • Melt 1 tbsp. butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add the diced apples, brown sugar and 1 tsp. cinnamon. Stir to coat the apples and continue to cook, stirring often until the apples begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and place in the freezer to quickly cool them down. 
  • Cut 10 tbsp. butter into 1/2 inch cubes and return to the fridge (or freezer) to chill. Meanwhile, combine dry ingredients in a large bowl. Add the chilled butter and use a pastry cutter to work it into the flour until only pea size pieces of butter remain. Add the buttermilk and stir until it comes together in a shaggy dough. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface. 
  • Add 1/2 cup of the cooled down apples and knead them into the dough until evenly distributed. Don't knead any more than necessary or the dough will become too wet. Shape the dough into a rectangle and trim all 4 sides. Cut into 6 squares and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. I like to make a little baby biscuit by smooshing together the four strips from trimming the sides. That way you have your own personal little sample 5 minutes before everyone else's biscuits are done. High five.
  • Combine 1 tsp. cinnamon and 1 tsp. sugar and sprinkle over the top of the biscuits. Bake 25-30 minutes, until golden brown. 
  • While the biscuits are baking, melt the remaining butter in a skillet over medium heat. Continue to cook the butter, stirring constantly, until it is deeply browned and smells nutty and wonderful. Transfer to a small bowl and whisk in honey. Let chill until resolidified. Serve biscuits warm with honey butter and the remaining sauteed apples. 



Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate by Chelsea Zwieg

One of the best things about working at the bakery is constant access to all things sweet. It really never gets old. Although, this constant contact with all things sugar related also leads to embarrassing situations like leaving work, running errands and coming home 2 hours later to realize that I have chocolate smeared all over my neck. Or walking through Target after work on a busy Saturday only to notice later that my once black leggings have been attacked by a gigantic smear of powdered sugar right on my butt. It's fine guys, I'm a baker. That's what I'm telling everyone in my head as I proudly and cluelessly march my powdered sugar butt right on out of the store. In reality they probably all just think I forgot to shower. They're not wrong. Maybe I just shouldn't go out in public until I'm sure I've cleaned all signs of work off of me, but if I haven't learned my lesson yet I probably never will. As long as I manage to clean all smudges of red velvet batter, which looks like straight up blood, I don't think I'll get arrested. 


But on the more positive side of always being around bakery is the chance to play around with any and every ingredient I could ever want to bake with. This was only exemplified a few weeks ago when I was in Las Vegas for the IBIE (baking convention) and pretty much got to eat my way through a gigantic expo hall of ingredient samples. It's a tough job, but someone's got to do it. Never mind that our bakery has no need for passion fruit truffles or almond paste cookies, I'll take 20 ma'am. But there are things we do need, like ridiculously good chocolate. One chocolate vendor in particular loaded us down with three full size bars each of insanely wonderful chocolate. And so what was I to do but come home and turn it into the richest, creamiest mug of hot chocolate I ever did make. 

I've always been a firm believer in hot chocolate over hot cocoa (the difference being melted chocolate vs. cocoa powder). Melting the chocolate on the stovetop, whisking in some milk or cream and letting it simmer away for a little bit produces the thickest, richest and just all around best hot chocolate you can make. I will make exceptions for hot cocoa, namely the Swiss Miss packets with the fake little marshmallows because I love that stuff. But if I am making it at home, it's hot chocolate all the way. But. There's always a but. While I was making this hot chocolate, I first tried to stick to my basic chocolate to milk ratio. However, once I added the caramel and the salt (wayyy to much on my first try. oops.), I felt like it wasn't actually chocolatey enough. The other flavors had snuffed out some of that chocolate flavor to the point where it only made me a little weak in the knees rather than fully knocking me flat on the floor. Unacceptable. So in this case, I used melted chocolate as the base but also stirred in 1 tbsp. of cocoa powder, just to make sure there was no doubt in anyone's mind that there might be caramel and sea salt but chocolate is still queen bee.

And of course, it's all finished off with a giant dollop of whipped cream. The decision between whipped cream or marshmallows on my hot chocolate is enough to keep me up at night so trust me, I fully support you using marshmallows in place of the cream. Just make sure they're are enough that they spill over the sides of the mug. None of that tiny island of a lonely marshmallow business allowed. 

Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate

Serves 2-4

| Ingredients

  • 5 ounces chocolate, chopped (you can use milk, dark or a combo. Just make sure you use what you love.)
  • 3 cups milk or cream
  • 1 tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup caramel candies, melted
  • 1/2 tsp. sea salt, to taste
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream, chilled
  • caramels and chocolate shavings, for garnish

| Instructions

  • In a medium saucepan, melt chocolate over medium heat. Stir often to make sure it doesn't burn.  If it seems like the chocolate might burn before it melts completely, add a splash of milk to help it along. Add the rest of the milk and whisk until smooth. Add the cocoa powder and whisk to combine. 
  • While whisking, slowly stream in the caramel and continue to stir until combined. Scrape the bottom as your stir to make sure no caramel has settled there. Add the salt, to taste. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer for 5 minutes. 
  • In the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the cream until stiff peaks form. When I am adding it to already sweet hot chocolate, I like to keep the cream unsweetened so it can just play the creamy role it was born to. If you want a more traditional whipped cream, add powdered sugar to taste and a splash of vanilla. 
  • Pour the hot chocolate into mugs, top with whipped cream, extra caramel candies and chocolate shavings.