Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween! ...and a Scone

Happy Halloween!

Today is the first year in recent memory that I am not partying hearty on All Hallow's Eve. My friends and I usually cause trouble and make mischief for Halloween, either at someone's house or in a (groan) bar.

Either I've gotten old, or I'm very low energy because of my post-cleanse dietary restrictions (still sticking under 1,100 calories per day, trying to stay away from red meat, sugar, and anything overly processed). I had no desire to figure out a costume or drink. I haven't had a drink in a few weeks, and I don't think I could handle any liquor right now.

So I decided to retreat back into the kitchen (sorry ... more food!) and bake like crazy. My mother had asked me to bake something for the Sunday early-morning prayer group that meets at 6:00 IN THE MORNING every Sunday. They usually eat something store-bought, like pound cake or muffins or Danishes. Wouldn't home-baked be better?? I would hope so.

I opted to bake two different types of scones. I love scones, my dad loves scones, and my mom loves butter. Win-win!

I made a very basic sweet scone with dried cranberries and candied ginger (leftover from the banana bread of last weekend) and then decided to be adventurous with the other scone. I had read Smitten Kitchen's post about jalapeno-cheddar scones and decided that I must try them. I love jalapeno-cheddar bagels, so how could the scone version be bad?

They weren't. They are delicious and amazing, though a touch too sweet for me. I was also temped to double the amount of jalapenos and resisted the temptation, though I think that twice the jalapenos would be delicious now that I've tried the original recipe.

I also learned after baking that I need to mince the cheddar, not dice it. The dice yielded rather large pieces of cheese which melted into (delicious, crispy) gobs on the (thankfully) non-stick silicone mats I used. I wouldn't use shredded cheddar for this, I don't think it would work well. I used a very sharp cheddar and I loved it. I don't think I would buy a beautiful cheese for this, since you can't really tell what the cheese is, but I'm going to try doing half-cheddar and half-aged Gouda the next time I bake this (which will be soon, as my parents inhaled the one scone we all shared).

Jalapenos are a staple in my family's house in both fresh and pickled forms. It explains why we are not phased by the spiciness of them. If you're sensitive to spice or didn't grow up in a Korean household, maybe try one pepper first as a test (Smitten Kitchen tried just one pepper and couldn't taste the heat at all).

Jalapeño-Cheddar Scones
Adapted Peter Oleyer at Calexico Carne Asada in Brooklyn, via NYMag and via Smitten Kitchen

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, minced
2 small jalapeños, minced

Preheat oven to 400°F.

In a small skillet, melt 1/2 tablespoon of butter and sauté the jalapeños in it until soft, about two minutes. Let them cool, then place them in a small bowl with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of the flour.

Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt. Cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender, fork or two knives, until the butter bits are pea sized. I used my fingers to squeeze the flour into the butter. Work quickly, since the butter really shouldn't melt.

Lightly whip two of the eggs and cream and add to the flour-butter mixture. Using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. Add the cheddar-jalapeño mixture to the dough and mix until everything is incorporated.

Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. I think I kneaded for about 20 seconds, or just until combined. Pat dough out into an 8-inch cake pan, then turn out onto a floured surface and cut into 8 wedges.

Make an egg wash by beating the remaining egg with a teaspoon of water. Brush the scones with egg wash and place on a parchment-lined (or well-oiled) baking sheet. I lined my baking sheet with a Silpat.

Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown. I baked mine for 15 minutes, turned the baking sheet, then baked for another 10 minutes.

Mmmm, cheese crisps! So delicious, those little bits of melted cheese. The Silpat prevents the cheese from sticking to anything, and you end up with these lovely little crackers made entirely of cheeeese.

I ate them, of course. Don't be silly, I'm not going to throw them away!

Cool the scones. And try not to devour them right that second, though you will want to. Melted cheese gets MUCH hotter than hot dough. I love cheese so much that I've been scalded on flaming hot cheese several times. Patience is truly a virtue when it comes to baked goods.

Delicious. Just a hint of the peppers, lots of kick from the cheese, and the sweetness of the dough- a great combination, and definitely my new favorite scone.

I also made a batch of macarons today. Dismal, epic failure. I don't even want to talk about it, other than to say that I think my nervousness got the best of me- I'm nervous of anything involving whipped egg whites and pastry bags.

I'm going to conquer macarons- perhaps next weekend. On the upside, I made ganache and it was (still is) beautiful.

For now, I'm listening to the neighbors having a raucous party in which everyone is singing "Thriller" while the bunny is trying to escape from his extremely large pen, badly behaved animal that he is.

Great Halloween.


william November 1, 2009 at 2:06 AM  

happy halloween! it didn't even register to me that yesterday was halloween because your motherland doesn't celebrate it.

also, all these food-related posts are evil. and you know why.

jeanny November 2, 2009 at 5:10 PM  

I can't believe that Koreans, those who love dressing up and eating candy, don't celebrate Halloween. So weird.

I'm evil, what can I say?? :) Though, in reading your posts lately, you seem to be doing fantastically well on the cleanse!