Recently I was lucky enough to receive some samples from a company called Oh! Nuts. They sell...you guessed it...all different kinds of nuts and dried fruit, along with many candies and snack items. (The selection really is amazing, and after a quick browse-through I've discovered about 5374 ingredients I simply must have.) The samples I got were roasted hazelnuts, dried pears, raspberry-flavored dried cherries, and coconut malted milk balls. I've been happily experimenting with my fun new ingredients in some desserts, and I'll be featuring them here over the next week or so.
...but before we get to the recipes, can I please tell you how EPIC the coconut malted milk balls were?
Oh mama, these were dangerous. First of all, they were huge--larger than a quarter, I'd estimate. And secondly, they were absolutely delicious. Nothing like the stale mothballs masquerading as "maltballs" in the grocery store. These were melt-in-your-mouth, double-your-pants-size-in-one-bite good. I had to give a half-eaten bag to my father to get them out of the house.
But I digress.
Back to the fruit and nuts! I first went to town on the dried pears...I had some fabulous gouda with walnut pieces that I wanted to pair with it, so I decided to do scones.
Scones are kind of a treat around our house...we usually like to save our calorie splurges for later in the day, so I don't often do breakfast baking. This recipe might convince me to change my mind! The dried pears added a nice chewiness and sweetness to the scones, that was offset by the sharp gouda and the walnut pieces from the cheese. Add in a flaky, buttery scone base, and what's not to love?
Pear and Gouda Scones
from Chocolate and Zucchini
180 grams (1 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
A fat pinch of ground piment d'Espelette (substitute any moderately hot ground chili)
3/4 teaspoon fleur de sel (substitute kosher salt)
75 grams (6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, diced
85 grams (1 cup) coarsely grated 36-month-old Gouda (substitute another type of aged firm cheese, such as Comté, Parmesan, or Cheddar)
20 grams (3 tablespoons) diced dried pears
100 mL (7 tablespoons) light (15%) cream
1 egg yolk, beaten with a tablespoon fresh water
Makes 9 small pieces.
Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, piment d'Espelette, and salt. Add the butter and rub it into the dry ingredients with the tips of your fingers or a wire pastry blender, until the mixture forms coarse crumbs. Add the cheese and pears, and blend with a fork.
Add the cream and mix it in gently with the fork until the dough comes together -- add a tad more cream or ice-cold water if the dough is too dry. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured work surface, gather into a ball, and roll out into a 2-cm-thick (3/4-inch) circle. Cut out circles of dough using a 6-cm (2 1/2-inch) cookie cutter or juice glass and transfer onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving about an inch of space between each. Gather the rest of the dough into a ball and repeat the rolling and cutting steps until you've used up all the dough.
Use a pastry brush or the back of a teaspoon to brush the top of the rounds with the egg yolk mixture. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until puffy and golden, rotating the baking sheet halfway through the baking. Let cool on a rack for a few minutes and serve. The scones will keep for a few days at room temperature, wrapped tightly in foil. Reheat for five minutes in a warm oven before serving.
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