Monday, 28 January 2008

citrus macadamia scones

When searching for something to bake, not only for me- but for you, dear sweet-tempered reader, I wanted to come up with something that would facilitate a way for me to tell you about my recent visit to London. Really, this was a very hard challenge. Everything I ate tasted wonderful and there are so many things I want to try and re-create. I especially like that a lot of their desserts are loaded with booze. And occasionally light on fire- as was the Christmas pudding after Christmas day dinner. Booze or no, every bite I ate was just as delicious as the next. That's mainly due to the fact that my gorgeous tour guides (special shout out to Alex and Damian) always knew exactly where to go or what to cook. However, we will be here all day if I try and tell you about ALL of it.

One of my favorite parts about my trip to London was when Alex and I rented a car and drove down to Canterbury and then spent the night in Whitstable. While in Canterbury, musing around the town, I saw it from afar. Hotel Chocolate. The store was immaculate; boxes of truffles lined the walls while little displays of different sized chocolate bars sat very content in the middle of the store. In the corner a display with champagne and chocolate sparkled- looking refined. Immediately Alex picked up a package labeled "citrus puddles", raved about it, and then put it down remarking how we already had packed chocolate with us for the trip. I picked it back up and said, probably my favorite thing to say, "I'm on holiday". Done and done. I ended up buying a couple other things (amazingly they have actually been given as gifts) and spent approximately $30 on chocolate. Thinking back to the store, that number is really low compared to the damage I could have done.

The citrus puddles came to be very close friends of ours over the next couple of days. While standing in Canterbury Cathedral looking up in awe at the insanely tall ceilings and incredibly old statues, one of us would lean to the other and say, "Can I have one of those citrus puddles?”. We would ask while walking past the pubs and sea side gift shops, we would ask while waiting for fish and chips to arrive on our plates, we would ask after tea and before coffee. They got us through some rough sugar lows and I will forever be indebted to their tastiness. Now that I'm home, sans Alex and citrus puddles, I am forced (no, delighted) to come up with a version of my very own. The original puddle was about the size of a quarter and was pure white chocolate infused with lime oil with bits of tangerine zest poking about. It snapped like good chocolate should and coated my mouth with creamy goodness, only to be washed away in seconds by the intense citrus burst. The only aftertaste was a bit of citrus and the hopeful imagination of another puddle being eaten.

I certainly chose a challenging "inspiration" food because frankly, vegan white chocolate sucks. And there is no way getting around it. Now, I did notice that on the Hotel Chocolate website that they actually sell vegan white chocolate, and I would be willing to say that is probably good stuff; the regular health food store run of the mill vegan white chocolate is nothing but a bunch of sugar, vanilla and additives making it not worth eating, really. Perhaps when tucking it into a nice cookie or muffin batter it's OK, but alone it would certainly not steal the show, not even close.

After tinkering with several ideas I finally came upon this and knew it was a winner. The light appearance of the white chocolate was replaced with a nice scone and the snap from the chocolate comes from the buttery macadamia nuts. The flecks of zest are added and the whole batter is bound by the juice from the tangerines giving it an extra citrus burst. Little bits of turbinado sugar nestle in the tops giving a little crunch to each bite. It's almost like eating the puddles, except there is the warming sensation that comes from eating a wonderfully homemade scone, kind of like the warming sensation one gets when walking around Canterbury with a best friend having the time of your life.

These scones are easier than most because they do not require cutting in butter and shortening to make them fluffy. The orange juice that is just barely mixed in gives them their tender dough that is easily comparable to other scones that are laden with fat. There is only 1/4 cup oil in the entire mixture and not much more but a little zest and flour is needed to make these. It's even a one bowl project! So if you are not vegan, or do not feel like buying potentially expensive ingredients for just one baking project, this recipe is for you. It's very loosely adapted off a recipe from the post punk kitchen team. I used their ginger chocolate scone recipe to make what you see below, but really, it's completely different. Just saying.

you will need these:
1 large mixing bowl
mixing spoon (or electric mixer)
greased cookie sheet

dry ingredients:
3 C all-purpose unbleached flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 C turbinado sugar, plus more for the tops
1 tsp salt
1 C coarsely chopped macadamia nuts

wet ingredients:
zest and juice of 2 tangerines and 1 lime
*you will need 1 cup of juice for the mixture. Either juice some more tangerines and save the zest, or justify with a small amount of store bought OJ.
1/4 C mild flavor oil (I used olive oil because that's all I had and it worked fine. Canola or safflower would work too)

putting it together:

pre-heat the oven to 450 degrees

mix together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt until well incorporated

make a well in the middle of the flour and pour in the juice and start mixing

slowly mix in the oil and zest; ending with the macadamia nuts. make sure to only stir the necessary amount- over mixing will cause your scones to be rubbery

plop little balls of dough onto your greased cookie sheet, making them about the size of a golf ball. sprinkle them with the additional sugar and they are ready to bake

bake for 10-15 minutes or until nice and golden on top

will make approximately 2 dozen

it's a wrap!

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