Scones, nuts and chocolate fit for Alice in Wonderland

March Hare's currant scones with cream cheese schmear. (Courtesy of Whitecap Books)

March Hare's currant scones with cream cheese schmear. (Courtesy of Whitecap Books)

Elizabeth Baird, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:47 AM ET

It all started with tea and crumpets — “it” being Alice Eats, A Wonderful Cookbook (Whitecap, $34.95), written and illustrated by two talented Calgarians, cookbook author Julie Van Rosendaal and chef/artist Pierre Lamielle.

Some background: Julie had always wanted to do a book that incorporated recipes into a story, especially for her son Willem, who loves to playact what he reads about. Alice in Wonderland, Pierre’s choice, was perfect. “It’s such a whimsical story, with so many food references, and familiar to all generations.”

Tea and crumpets at Pierre’s home fueled their imaginations for this delightful cookbook. Pierre devoted more than a year to the brilliantly colourful and quirky illustrations that bring the full text to life. And for Julie, creating recipes around the food references, especially the Mad Hatter’s tea party and photographing the results, makes this book a treasured addition to a kitchen, both for kids, and adults.

ALICE'S PRICE-WINNING MIXED-NUT COMFITS

In a jar, it’s a lovely gift, in a bowl, irresistible.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whole almonds, walnuts, pecans
  • 3 Tbsp. (45 ml) honey
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) water
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) butter
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. (2 ml) salt
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) cinnamon (optional)

Directions:

In a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat, toast nuts, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, or until starting to turn fragrant. Add honey, water and butter and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until syrupy mixture has been almost absorbed and there isn’t much left in pan. Stir in sugar, salt and cinnamon, if using, and stir to coat well. Remove from heat and spread out in a single layer on parchment-or foil-lined sheet; let cool. Break apart.

Makes about 2 1/2 cups (625 ml).

WHITE RABBIT'S WHITE CHOCOLATE POT DE CREME

A chic little dessert and make-ahead too.

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups (500 ml) whipping cream or 18% cream
  • 1 cup (250 ml) chopped white chocolate (about 4 oz./120 g)
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) granulated sugar

Directions:

Preheat oven to 325 F (160 C) and set a rack in middle. Arrange five or six 3/4 cup (175 ml) ramekins in a 13-x 9-inch (3.5 L) metal cake pan; set aside. In a medium saucepan, heat cream over medium heat until steaming; remove from heat and add chocolate. Let sit for a few minutes, then whisk until it’s melted and smooth.

In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and sugar. When chocolate mixture has cooled to warm - enough so that it won’t cook eggs - whisk it into egg mixture. Divide custard among ramekins, and pour enough warm water into pan to come halfway up sides of cups.

Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, or until custards are set but still just slightly jiggly in middle. Cool, cover each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate until well chilled - at least 2 hours, or up to a day.

Makes 5 to 6 little pots.

MARCH HARE'S CURRANT SCONES WITH CREAM CHEESE SCHMEAR

Tea time treat, or an easy-to-make quickbread for weekend mornings.

Ingredients:

Carrot Scones:

  • 2 1/2 cups (625 ml) all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp. (30 ml) brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp (2 ml) cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) salt
  • 1 cup (250 ml) coarsely grated carrot
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) milk, 10 or 18% cream (approximate)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) chopped walnut or pecan halves, or raisins

Cream Cheese Schmear:

  • 1 pkg. (8 oz./250 g) cream cheese
  • 2 to 4 Tbsp. (30 to 60 ml) milk, 10 or 18% cream
  • 1 Tbsp. (15 ml) honey
  • 1/4 tsp. (1 ml) vanilla

Directions:

Carrot Scones:

Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

In a bowl, blend together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Add butter; cut in with a fork or pastry blender until blended, with pieces of butter size of a pea remaining. Add carrot and toss to combine.

In a small bowl, stir together milk and egg, add to carrot mixture along with chopped walnuts and stir just until dough comes together, adding a little more milk if needed.

On prepared baking sheet, pat dough into a circle about 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick. Cut into 8 wedges; pull scones apart, leaving 1-inch (2.5 cm) or so between them. Bake in 400 F (200 C) oven for 15 to 20 minutes, or until golden. Let cool slightly on a rack.

Cream Cheese Schmear:

In a bowl, beat the cream cheese, enough of the milk, honey and vanilla until smooth and spreadable.

Makes 8 large scones.


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