Friday, October 26, 2012

roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones

roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones

One of the saddest things you should probably know about me is that I’m a terrible host. I don’t mean to be; in my head, I’m the kind of person who would find out you were coming over, quickly gather some wildflowers from the side of the road, put them in an old Mason jar, pour-over some coffee from a local roaster, steam cream from an upstate dairy in a spouted glass and pull out something warm and enticing from the oven right as you arrived. In my head, I understand that none of these things are terribly difficult to pull off. In reality, were you to come over right now, you’d find a plate of pears (one with a toddler mouth-sized bite removed) and mostly-empty jar of something delicious, but alas, too delicious to have lasted until you arrived, on the table, a colossal explosion of wooden train tracks and fire station parts all over the carpet and a fireman in a time out (“What did he do?” I asked. “He did NOTHING!” I was informed. Well, then…). Also notable is the absent aroma of freshly-brewed coffee. Upon closer inspection, you might see that I don’t actually own any coffee-making apparatus. And not a single warm thing has left the oven this morning; we had stove-top oatmeal for breakfast again.

tippy pears
peeling the pears

Seriously, you’d revoke my book contact if you saw this place. I might have kept this to myself forever, but I have been found out. I have been found out because in the last month, more strangers have entered my apartment than have in the three-plus years we’ve lived here. They come under the auspices of writing articles about tiny kitchens or wanting to watch me make a recipe from the cookbook, but I know the truth: they want to see how we really live and when they find out, well, I hope they are relieved because are all of the fruits in your bowl intact? Are no firemen in unjust time outs? Good, you’re a step ahead.

pretty pears get a longer photo shoot

chopping the pears
partially roasted chunks of pear
chopped chocolate
let the paddle bang up the pear chunks
a mound of sticky dough, don't fret! just flour.
six generous scone wedges
ready to bake

Nevertheless, because this is my website and because on my website, I get to try (occasionally) to put my best foot forward, I am going to tell you about the morning two weeks ago that I had two guests over and I actually pulled off hospitality. Mostly. I mean, one person had been here before, thus she knew it was smart to bring coffee in. But these scones were so wonderful that I think they make up for all sorts of things, like the pile of platters and bowls that sit on a corner chair, have spilled out from a cabinet so long ago, we don’t even notice them anymore. I started with a recipe for scones I’d made a few years ago, but instead of apples, I used pears (not the one with the bite taken out; you’re welcome) and instead of accenting it with cheddar, I used chunks of bittersweet chocolate. These enormous roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones — assembled the night before, baked directly from the freezer before my morning guests arrived — were a revelation; craggy, hearty, a little crunchy, tender in the center, crisp at the edges, gorgeously bronzed and an ideal balance of light sweetness but late-October indulgence. I am not sure I’ve ever made anything so good for breakfast guests before, or will ever be so coordinated before 9 a.m. again.

roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones
roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones

Four days! Until The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook leaves my “kitchen” and hopefully makes a home in yours. That’s less than 100 hours. This is.. wild. We’re getting a little giddy with excitement for the NYC launch on Tuesday evening. Do you think it would be rude to uninvite Sandy? She seems the type that could really wreck a good party, and we don’t need any of that.

One year ago: Homesick Texan Carnitas
Two years ago: Spicy Squash Salad with Lentils and Goat Cheese
Three years ago: Silky, Decadent Old-School Chocolate Mousse
Four years ago: Paris + A Deep, Dark Salted Butter Caramel Sauce and Pink Lady Cake
Five years ago: Sweet Potato and Sausage Soup
Six years ago: Easiest Baked Mac-and-Cheese

Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chunk Scones
Tweaked from The Perfect Finish

Makes 6 generous scones; you can absolutely make these a bit smaller and reduce their baking time accordingly

3 firmish pears (about 1 pound or 455 grams)
1 1/2 cups (190 grams) all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (50 grams) granulated sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons granulated or coarse for sprinkling
1 1/2 teaspoons (8 grams) baking powder
1/2 teaspoon (3 grams) table salt plus additional for egg wash
6 tablespoons (85 grams) cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/4 cup (60 ml) heavy cream
1/4 cup (3 ounces or 85 grams) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped (or chips)
2 large eggs, 1 for dough, 1 for glaze

Heat oven to 375°F. Peel and core pears. Cut into 1-inch chunks. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange pear chunks on parchment and roast until they feel dry to the touch and look a little browned underneath, about 20 minutes. Slide parchment paper with pear chunks onto a cooling rack (or onto a plate in the fridge or freezer to speed this up) and cool to lukewarm. Leave oven on. Line baking sheet with another piece of parchment.

Whisk flour, baking powder, 1/4 cup sugar and salt together in the bowl of an electric mixer. Toss in cooled pear chunks, bits of butter, heavy cream and 1 egg. With the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until it just comes together. Don’t overmix. Add the chocolate chunks and mix for 5 seconds more.

On a very well floured counter, pat out dough into a 6-inch round. Cut into 6 generous wedges and transfer to baking sheet at least two inches apart (do as I say, not as I did here!). Whisk remaining egg in a small dish with 1 teaspoon of water and a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with egg wash and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon of sugar.

Bake scones until firm and golden, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack. Serve, and pat yourself on the back for your excellent host skills.

Do ahead: You can get this recipe all the way to the point where you’d bake them, and instead cover the pan with foil or plastic wrap and freeze them overnight. Bake them directly from the freezer in the morning; they should only take a few minutes longer. For longer than overnight, transfer frozen, already shaped, scones to a freezer bag until needed. In both cases, brush the egg wash/sprinkle the sugar on while still frozen, before baking the scones.


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