Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Scones

Here's something different for A Mingling of Tastes: chocolate for breakfast! I love chocolate. Love it. In fact, I generally eat some kind of chocolate candy every day. But not for breakfast. Chocolate pancakes, muffins, breakfast bars and pastries just don't appeal to me. The only exception I can think of are Dunkin' Donuts cake donuts with chocolate icing, and it's been an awfully long time. When I saw this scone recipe on Peanut Butter Boy (which is full of health-conscious, yet tempting, PB-centric recipes), however, I knew it was time for one more exception to my no chocolate breakfasts thing.

Despite sounding more like a cookie, these scones are packed with enough nutritious ingredients to qualify as actual food. Reading over the recipe convinced me that it may be possible to have a peanut butter and chocolate scone that wouldn't leave me feeling like a total slug. The peanut butter replaces the dairy butter you'd normally use in a scone recipe, and a mashed banana contributes not just subtle flavor, but moisture too. I tweaked PB Boy's recipe a bit, adding more oats, less peanut butter and cinnamon. The only change I'd try for next time is using my beloved Jif chunky rather than smooth.

Considering the scent emanating from the kitchen while these baked, I expected lots of peanut butter flavor, but it turned out to be rather mild. Not a complaint, just saying. The dough is definitely on the wet side, but otherwise these go together like your standard scone. And like your standard scone, they don't have much added sugar, so the light sweetness comes mostly from the banana, peanut butter and chocolate. To sum up, they taste like an awesome breakfast cookie. And Mike, the authority on all things peanut butter and chocolate, says he really likes them.

I'm curious: do you regularly eat sweets for breakfast? Do you stick to things like buttermilk pancakes and blueberry muffins, but draw the line at chocolate? Do you exclusively consume savory foods in the morning, or the opposite? Does your heart belong to cold cereal (that's one breakfast food I never eat!)?

Peanut Butter-Chocolate Chip Scones
Adapted from Peanut Butter Boy
I used smooth peanut butter, but next time I'll probably try chunky. I think the bits of nuts would make the peanut butter flavor more prominent.

Makes 8-10 scones

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour (180 grams)
1 cup quick-cooking oats (80 grams)
2 Tbs sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, or any finely chopped chocolate of your choice
2 large eggs
1/4 cup milk
1 ripe medium banana, mashed well
1/2 cup smooth or chunky peanut butter (128 grams)

Preheat oven to 400 F. Line 1 large or 2 smaller baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, cinnamon and salt. Stir in the chocolate.

In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and milk. Add the mashed banana and whisk to combine.

Add the peanut butter to the flour mixture and mix with a pastry blender or your fingers until you have a coarse, sandy texture. Add the egg mixture and stir until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Dough will be quite wet. Sprinkle lightly with flour and knead into a ball. Flatten the ball and shape into a disk, about 8 inches in diameter and 1 inch thick. With a large, floured chef's knife, cut dough into 8 or 10 wedges, depending on the size scone you want (the size you see in the pictures are from a 10-scone batch).

Keep flouring your knife and slide it under the wedges like a spatula, then carefully lift them onto the prepared baking sheets. Again, the dough will be wet--just pat any misshapen scones back together with your fingers. Bake 15 to 16 minutes, or until scones are lightly browned and a cake tester comes out clean. If you using 2 baking sheets, swap their positions halfway through. Cool on baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack. Serve warm.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Cinnamon Oat Scones

Is everyone having a nice weekend? Good. I can't believe Christmas is nearly here. Christmas on Tuesday works out well--four day weekend! I've already done most of the baking I planned on, and I've bought and wrapped all the presents. Nothing left to do but hang out and have fun.

So, if you're just hanging out like me, here's a great scone recipe for you. I made these a couple weeks ago right after I saw Anna's post. I think I've mentioned that I love scones, and I really love testing new recipes hoping to find that magic combination of basic scone ingredients that makes the perfect moist, buttery treat. When Anna called this the best oat scone ever and said she wouldn't be looking further for oat scone recipes, I was very excited to try it. I don't think she speaks those words lightly. If you need more convincing, it's a Cook's Illustrated recipe, so that means it was tested every which way in the pursuit of oat scone perfection.

If you like scones with oats, this is definitely the ultimate. I can't eat one of these for breakfast without getting up from my computer (I love eating and reading blogs on weekday mornings), finding Mike and exclaiming, "Best scones ever!"

I guess the picture looks pretty basic, but the scones are anything but. Without an insane amount of butter, they are incredibly buttery and moist. I'll also say they're on the sweet side, especially if you use the cinnamon chips. The toasted oats don't make them seem "healthy," but add another dimension of texture and nutty flavor. Seriously, they're melt-in-your-mouth good. The flavor of the oats is also a nice match for whole wheat pastry flour if you like making whole grain scones. I didn't use any white flour, so these awesome scones were also really nutritious.

If you don't have or don't like cinnamon chips, use any add-in you want. There are some suggestions in the recipe headnotes. My grocery store only sells cinnamon chips around the holidays with the seasonal stuff (I have no clue why they're a seasonal item), so if yours is the same way, pick some up and try them in these scones, as well as plenty of other things. King Arthur also sells mini cinnamon chips year round if you're desperate.

You can see Anna's version here. I included the recipe below for convenience, and because I tweaked a few things, like using whole wheat pastry flour. I also cut the amount of butter by a tablespoon just because I ran out of unsalted butter--for shame! I can't think of any more ways to say how yummy these scones are, so I'll just thank Anna for posting about them!

Cinnamon Oat Scones

Adapted from Cooks Illustrated and Cookie Madness
If you don’t have cinnamon chips, use another add-in like raisins, dried currants or chocolate chips. This recipe is a great base for all of them, and would also be good plain. You also might want to switch the cinnamon for ginger or 1 tablespoon of citrus zest. Note that you’ll be raising the oven temperature after toasting the oats.
Makes 8 scones

1 1/2 cups oats, old fashioned or quick (not instant)
1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry or all-purpose flour, or a combination
1/3 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 9 chunks and chilled
1/2 cup half and half
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup cinnamon chips

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread the oats on a cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes or until fragrant and lightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Raise oven heat to 450 degrees F.

In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon. Pulse a few times to combine. Add butter chunks to flour mixture and pulse until mixture is the size of small peas.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the egg, half and half, and vanilla. Spoon out 1 tablespoon and set aside to use for brushing tops.

Add the flour mixture and the oats to cream mixture and stir until almost mixed. Add the cinnamon chips (if using) and continue mixing just until mixture comes together in a ball.

On a lightly floured surface, shape the ball into a 7-inch circle (about 1 inch thick). With a floured knife, cut into 8 wedges, and place wedges 2 inches apart on a non-stick or parchment lined baking sheet. Brush with reserved cream mixture. Bake 14-18 minutes, rotating pan halfway through, until scones are lightly browned and cooked through.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Honey Cornmeal Scones

Sometimes I think breakfast pastries make me even happier than dessert. After all, I can consider them an actual meal even though they tend to be mostly simple carbs. Then I eat a proper dessert like a chocolate mousse tart or really good tiramisu and know that no muffin or scone could ever match its creamy decadence.

Happily, I don’t have to choose between these two loves, although I try not to indulge in a sweet breakfast and a fabulous dessert on the same day (always moderation!). My favorite kind of baked breakfast item is the scone. The scone is a much maligned and misunderstood food, and I can understand why. Many, especially the big, American coffeehouse-style scones, are way too sweet and have a tendency to leave you with a leaden feeling in your stomach and butter oozing out of your pores. They are good for a few bites, but regret inevitably follows.

I generally like all kinds of scones from the light and dry English style to the dense, substantial types, loaded with fruit, nuts, oats and anything else that strikes your fancy. One thing I have discovered is that shocking amounts of butter and sugar are not required to make a good, moist scone.

I adapted the recipe for these honey-cornmeal lovelies from Once Upon a Tart, a cookbook from two New York City bakery owners who clearly have jumped on the heavy American scone bandwagon. There are over a dozen enticing scone recipes all loaded down with butter and sugar. I love butter (click here and scroll down for butter-related rant). I believe in its power, but this was too much. The original version of this scone has 16 tablespoons and I reduced it to 10. I cut the brown sugar from ½ cup to ¼ cup. I also replaced two cups of the AP flour with whole wheat pastry flour, and I swear, you would never know it.

The point of all this tinkering was not to make a healthier scone or a low-calorie scone; but, in my opinion, a better scone. I think I succeeded. Cutting the sugar allows the flavor of the honey to come forward, and the scone is still pleasingly sweet, like a denser version of cornbread covered in honey butter. As long as you use the right technique—mixing cold cubes of butter into the flour mixture just until it looks like coarse crumbs and quickly folding in the liquid until just combined—there is plenty of butter to give the scones ample moisture and richness. They may never measure up to your favorite dessert, but these scones make breakfast a treat.

Honey Cornmeal Scones
Adapted from Once Upon a Tart by Frank Mentesana and Jerome Audureau

Makes 12 scones

2 large eggs
1 c. buttermilk
½ c. honey
1 scant tsp. vanilla extract
2 c. whole wheat pastry flour
1 c. all-purpose flour
1 ½ c. yellow cornmeal (medium ground if you like a little crunch; fine ground if you don’t)
1 tbs. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
¼ c. packed light brown sugar
10 tbs. unsalted butter, cut into small cubes and chilled for at least 20 minutes before using
1 egg, beat with 1 tsp. water, for glazing (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk the 2 eggs, buttermilk, honey and vanilla together in a large bowl. Set aside.

In another large bowl, whisk together the flours, cornmeal, baking powder, salt and brown sugar. Add the cold, cubed butter and mix it in with your fingers to create a very loose, sandy consistency. You want to smoosh and break up the butter cubes slightly with your fingers, as long as you don’t cause them to melt into the dough.

Pour the wet ingredients into the flour mixture and gently combine just until all the flour is moistened (if you over mix, you will get tough dough).

Use a half-cup size measuring cup to scoop the dough out onto the cookie sheet into 12 free-form scones. Use a pastry brush to dab the scones with the glaze. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until tops are golden and a toothpick comes out clean. Cool on baking sheets for a couple of minutes, then move to wire racks to finish cooling.

More scones to try from other bloggers:
Scottish Scones from Orangette--I tried this recipe myself, and they make a delicious simple scone, not too heavy or light, with minimal butter and sugar.
Yogurt Scones from Chocolate and Zucchini--I've never used yogurt before; must give these a try!
Sweet Potato & Vidalia Onion Scones from Tartelette--Now I can eat scones for lunch and dinner too!
Lemon Poppy Seed Scones from The Wednesday Chef
Meyer Lemon Scones from Baking Sheet--Another way to use my favorite lemons!

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