Thursday, October 15, 2009

jalapeño-cheddar scones

jalapeno cheddar scones

I wore heels to the hospital when I showed up for my induction four weeks ago. Heels. And a sundress. Oh, and my mother and I decided to walk there from the doctor’s office, since it was such a nice day (we only made it ten blocks, but still). Heels. Sundress. A stroll on a lovely September day. I say this not to point out how ridiculous I can be — because really, I believe it points itself out — but to outline this thing I do where I get an absurdly ambitious ideal in my head and spend the rest of my time trying to close the gap between the dream and my reality.

white cheddar

Hm, perhaps that didn’t make much sense. Let me put it in food terms. Before I had the baby, I attempted to spend some time baking and stashing, no, not practical things like meals to save us from an endless rotation of diner eggs and takeout pad thai, oh please no. I made things like treats to woo extra-awesome care from labor and delivery nurses and granola bars that our families in the waiting room might enjoy and some date cake we could all enjoy with some fresh baby and coffee the next day. Like I said, absurd. I also imagined that we’d have an influx of visitors in the weeks after we took Jacob home, and realizing I’d have no time to put out my usual spread, decided to ambitiously bake some things we could set out as needed … like banana bread. And lemon cake. And scones. Except I only got to the scones. At least I picked good ones.

mixing the scone dough

Enter the reality of life with a newborn and sure enough, baked goods are the last thing on our minds. And of course we’d forgotten that these scones were stashed them in the freezer until an unusually calm Sunday this past weekend when two friends came by to meet The Cutest Baby Ever Baked (an objective assessment, of course, especially once tiny, elbow-patched Fair Isle sweaters are involved) on Sunday and I wanted to find something — besides wine, that is — we could snack on. The pantry presented me with sorry options — wasabi peas, stale raisins, and half a box of Jelly Belly Sours, anyone? — but there in the freezer were these forgotten scones. I baked them still frosty until they were puffed, golden and made our apartment smell like a fondue pot (that’s a good association, trust me) and even though we were ridiculously overtired and even though the North Fork wine I’d been so eagerly anticipating only put me in a coma and even though Jacob managed to, shall we say Christen, the guest who had the misfortune to witness a diaper change (oops!) and perhaps this wasn’t the kind of calm gathering I had pictured in my late pregnancy haze, it was delicious and hilarious and I realize now that I wouldn’t want it any other way.

to flash freeze

One year ago: Molly’s Apple Tarte Tatin and Cranberry-Walnut Chicken Salad
Three years ago: Classic Brownies and Winter Squash Soup with Gruyere Croutons

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

It’s worth noting that I had my doubts about this recipe. This world is overflowing with terrible scones and after trying too many bad ones, I came to the conclusion that the only good scones — the only ones you should bother making or eating, ever — are these dreamy cream ones. However, this recipe manages to be different — it contains eggs! — and yet is still delicious but considering the possibility that there are two good scone recipes on earth makes my sleepy head hurt thus I will reconcile this another time. For now, know that these are good, very good.

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, diced
1/2 cup heavy cream
3 eggs, divided
1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, diced
2 small jalapeños pepper, minced (I wimped out and used only one only to find my scones entirely heat-free)

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.

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. Pat dough out to a 3/4- to 1-inch thickness and either cut into 8 triangles or the shape of your choice with a biscuit cutter. 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. Bake for 25 minutes or until golden brown.

Scones are always best the first day.

Want to flash-freeze yours, as I did? Brief directions, here.


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