Thursday, January 23, 2014

Scones in a New Shape and Combination

It becomes harder these days to be surprised by some of the food combinations that are being concocted. Things like sweet corn ice cream or Indian spices in frozen pops. Combinations of sweet and savory in any meal. Sweet with savory is nothing new, but these are mixtures I would never have thought of. Which brings me to scones. It is common enough to pu
Apricot Blue Cheese Scone Cakes
t cheese in scones. Usually, something like cheddar, and usually the yellow kind. Then I heard of using blue cheese. Hmmm.
I happened to have some Gorgonzola crumbles in my fridge. I decided to try this out.

I always keep varied dried fruits in my cabinet, in case I need them for something and do not have any fresh ones on hand. Dried apricots are nice to have, because they are not in season for long and not generally in stores in mid winter. At least not where I live. I usually have dried figs and dates, raisins and sultanas (yellow raisins), mango, craisins and sometimes cherries. On occasion, I even find dried blueberries. It is nice to toss in a handful of dried fruit in a recipe for a cake or scones or muffins. I have not yet used apricots in scones or muffins, but then neither have I used something like Gorgonzola as the cheese. 

cooking apricots to evaporate liquid
I am a bit of a purist in many senses. I prefer to make things from scratch. i prefer not to use boxes or cans of things I can make myself. I also prefer for a muffin to look like a muffin, and a scone to look like a scone. Still, I am not totally averse to doing something slightly different. I may or may not like the outcome, but I will sometimes try. Today, tried something different. I decided to make "scones" with apricots and Gorgonzola cheese - in little squares. There is no really good reason for this, except I saw it done and the look tickled my fancy. These scone "cakes" would be just as wonderful made into traditional shape, patted out and cut in wedges. But I am curious, just to see if the result comes out as expected - or not - and then I will know. So, I tried out this recipe I created. If you prefer traditional scone shapes, with much less fuss or bother, Once the dough has come together, turn it out onto a floured surface, fold it over on itself a few tines and pat into a circle about 8 or 9 inches in diameter. Cut across the circle, creating 6 or 8 wedges. Set onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake as below, until nicely golden brown.

Apricot Blue Cheese Scone Cakes

1/3 cup dried apricots, cut into tiny cubes
1/2 cup water
1 egg
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
Dough formed, left; patted into pan, right

1/2 cup almond flour / almond meal
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon lime zest, optional
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (8 TB) unsalted butter, cold, in small cubes
3/4 cup blue cheese of choice (Gorgonzola, Blue, Stilton)
more heavy cream for brushing
Turbinado or other coarse sugar for sprinkling

In a small saucepan combine the apricots and water. Bring to boil, reduce to a simmer and cook slowly for about 15 minutes, or until almost all the water has absorbed or evaporated. There should be less than a tablespoon of liquid left. Allow the apricots to cool. Once cooled, add the egg to the apricots and whisk to combine, then add in the cream and stir well. Set aside.

Grease a straight sided 13 x 9-inch baking pan. Line the bottom with parchment and grease the parchment. Set pan aside.

brush with cream and sprinkle with sugar
In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, almond flour, sugar, baking powder, lime zest and salt. Whisk to distribute the ingredients equally. Add the cold cubes of butter and with fingertips, rub the flour mixture into the butter until well combined and the mixture looks like coarse meal. 

Add the apricot mixture to the bowl, along with the blue cheese of choice. Using a fork, toss the ingredients until well moistened. Using hands, bring the mixture together. Press the dough into the prepared 13 x 9-inch pan, patting evenly. Place the pan in the freezer for about 1 hour, or until partially frozen and very stiff. 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees (350 on Convection Bake). Remove the pan from the freezer and flip the pan over onto a lightly floured surface, turning out the dough. Peel off and discard the parchment. With a very sharp knife, cut the rectangle into 24 approximately 2-inch squares. Brush the top of each square with the extra heavy cream, and sprinkle the tops with the Turbinado or other large-crystal sugar. Set them onto a lightly greased baking sheet and bake in the preheated oven for 16 to 20 minutes, or until puffed and golden.

These little golden squares would be wonderful on their own for breakfast of course, but they would be equally at home to accompany a nice creamy soup or as a brunch item. Were I to attempt this recipe again, I believe making traditional scone shapes would be just right. For a fancier meal, this shape is beautiful and perfect.

My passion is to teach people how to create a harmony of flavors with their cooking, and help pass along my love and joy of food, both simple and exotic, plain or fancy. I continue my journey in ethnic and domestic cuisines, trying new things weekly. Join me at A Harmony of Flavors Website and Marketplace, Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I am also on a spiritual journey and hope you will join me at my new blog, An Eagle Flies.