Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cheddar Jalapeno Scones

I made these Jalapeno Cheddar Scones a while ago to accompany this black bean soup. The recipe, which I adapted from this one at smitten kitchen, made enough to accompany the leftover soup as well, so I was happily eating this delicious combo for a few days. I wish I had saved some scones, or at least saved some cheddar cheese (I still have plenty of jalapenos from my garden) so I could have tasted and/or made them again before writing this. It’s not that I forgot how good they are in the meantime. It’s just that the nostalgia is almost painful. I want some more.

As a basic scone recipe this one is very nice, with a good ratio of butterfat to flour that makes an almost flaky scone that goes a little past biscuit texture. To me, that’s how a scone should be (although I’d probably be content to eat them even if they miss this mark.) The diced jalapeno chiles and tiny cubes of cheddar cheese are fabulous additions that bump up the flavor and in the case of the cheese, bump up the richness and, well, the butterfat, too.

Some of that cheese couldn’t help but leak out of the scones and onto the pan as they baked. I decided to take this as a gift. A gift of crispy, toasty sharp cheddar bits reminiscent of Parmesan fricos. Plenty of cheese stayed right where I put it inside the scone to make little, slightly gooey sharp cheddar-y pockets. Even though I used two whole jalapeno chiles, their spiciness did not overwhelm the scones. The cheese is still kind of the main event with the chile pepper taste as a background flavor.

I didn’t really change this recipe much from the original, except to add a bit of stone-ground cornmeal. I liked the addition of that flavor along with the chiles and I liked the added grainy, slightly crunchy texture as well. These are really a winner, and I think I might be making these scones instead of cornbread to go alongside bowls of chili or stew. Of course, that would mean getting out to get some more cheddar cheese. While the rain and gloom of the very day that I’m writing this make it a perfect day for a warming stew with a savory scone accompaniment, those same characteristics make it a day unfit for going out to acquire cheddar. Some days, you just can’t win!

Cheddar Jalapeno Scones
Adapted from this recipe at smitten kitchen

I made these scones into 8 large triangles. You could cut them smaller or cut them with a biscuit cutter to make them round.

Since scones quickly lose their prime texture, I recommend freezing any leftover scones as soon as you can. Defrost in the microwave to enjoy the leftovers.

1 ½ cups all-purpose flour, divided
½ cup stone-ground cornmeal
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, divided
½ cup heavy cream
2 eggs
¼ pound sharp cheddar cheese, diced
2 jalapeno peppers, minced

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. In a small skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat. Add the diced jalapenos and cook, stirring often until soft, about 2-3 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

2. Place the cheddar in a small bowl. Add the cooled chiles and about 1 tablespoon flour. Toss to coat. Set aside.

3. In a medium-size bowl, combine the remaining flour, cornmeal, baking powder and salt. Add the remaining butter pieces and cut in with a pastry blender, or with a knife or fork, or rub it in with your fingers until the butter is all coated with flour in pea-size pieces. Stir in the cheese and chiles.

4. In a small bowl, beat the eggs with the cream until well-combined. Add to the flour mixture and gently mix together to form a rough, crumbly dough. Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface and gently knead until it all comes together.

5. Shape the dough into a disk about ¾ to 1 inch thick. Cut into 8 triangles. Arrange the triangles on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Bake at 400 F for about 25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve warm or just cooled.

Makes 8 fairly large scones.

Another recipe like this one: Spinach and Feta Scones withDill

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