Saturday, January 28, 2012

Maple Oat Nut Scones

These are my clone of a great scone they used to have at Starbucks (I still see it once in a while). I think my version is better! The recipe is modeled on the one I use for my oat scones with cinnamon chips, and it began its life as a Cook’s Illustrated recipe. This maple-nut incarnation is one of my favorite scones EVER.

Lately, I'm feeling like the best scones have oats. I always use rolled, or "old-fashioned," oats for the best texture, and toast them in the oven (just like nuts) to bring out some flavor. Toasting the oats is a Cook's Illustrated trick, and it's totally worth it. I also used toasted hazelnuts in this most recent batch, along with pecans, and that added an extra, tasty element.

Have you ever had the Starbuck's scone (I think they called it "maple walnut")? Regardless, I hope you enjoy these as much as I do!

Maple Oat Nut Scones
I use Lorann flavoring oil to get the maple flavor in this recipe. You can use extract, but increase the amount because the oil is stronger. For the nuts, I like using half pecans and half hazelnuts.

Makes 12 medium scones

For scones:
1 1/2 cups rolled oats (120 g)
1 1/2 cups white whole wheat (or AP) flour (195 g)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 Tbs cold unsalted butter
6 Tbs half and half
1 large egg
2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 tsp maple flavor
1/2 cup chopped toasted nuts such as pecans, hazelnuts or walnuts, or a combination (56 g)

For glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar (120 g)
1 Tbs pure maple syrup
2 to 3 Tbs water
1/2 to 1 tsp maple flavor

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and bake for 7 to 9 minutes, stirring once, or until fragrant and lightly browned (keep an eye on these; they can over cook quickly). Set aside to cool.

Raise oven temperature to 425 F.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt,cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Cut cold butter into 1/2-inch chunks and add to bowl. With a pastry blender or your fingers, work butter into flour mixture until you have an uneven, shaggy mixture with some pieces of butter still intact.

In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the half and half, egg, maple syrup and maple flavor.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and briefly stir until barely combined. Add the oats and nuts and continue stirring just until evenly combined (dough will not come together in a ball).

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently knead into a ball. Divide into two equal pieces and shape each piece into a thick disk. Roll each disk into a 6 to 7-inch circle, about 1 inch thick. Cut each circle into 6 wedges, and place about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake 12 to 16 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until scones are lightly browned on the bottom and cooked through. Cool 5 minutes on baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the glaze: In a small bowl, combine powdered sugar, maple syrup. Add just enough water to form a thick glaze. Stir in maple flavor. Spread over cooled scones and allow glaze to set before serving.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

My 5 Favorite Recipes of 2011

It was so much harder than I expected to narrow this list down to just 5 recipes! Another issue is the fact that I work as a recipe developer for magazines. I have made so many recipes in 2011 that have not appeared on this blog because they belong to the publications that paid me to create them! It gets confusing. I should cook some of my published recipes and post about it. It's hard to remember them all, even the ones I love and swear I'll cook again. Is that something you guys would like to see?

But back to this list. In the end, it came down to one key deciding factor: whether or not I made the recipe more than once. So here's the list. Tell me what you think of it! Do any of the choices surprise you?

My 5 Favorite Recipes of 2011

In no particular order...

1) Beer bread. I've made it multiple times, and will make it many more. It's just so easy. And how can it be this delicious and healthy? I don't know! And it makes the ultimate grilled cheese...ridiculous!

2) Pumpkin penne. I threw this together one night in November, and I've made it like 4 times since then. With chestnuts, caramelized onions, chicken and spinach, it's just incredibly tasty and hearty.

3) Socca pizza. I make this over and over with whatever toppings I feel like. Just try it. The chickpea crust has such a dense, satisfying texture. And it's different enough that it doesn't need to replace traditional pizza (in case  you were worried).

4) Brisket. We made it for the first time this year, and it was sort of a revelation. Easy, easy. The meat is quite lean, and the leftovers make a fantastic sandwich.

5) The best chocolate chip blondies. No frills here! Just a lot of quality chocolate chips. If you don't "get" blondies (believe me, I also adore brownies), I respect that. But I love them, and these moist, chewy ones are perfect.

Honorable Mentions:
1) Peanut butter and jelly truffles. Totally worth the effort.
2) Pumpkin scones with cranberries and walnuts. I had to put a scone recipe on the list!