Thursday, January 18, 2007

Early Morning Breakfast: Chocolate-Chip Orange Scones

I am not a morning person, but my job requires that I haul myself out of bed at the ungodly and depressingly dark hour of five thirty in order to shower and clothe myself properly before heading out into the wintry mix that is Chicagoland. I walk to work, by the lake and over the river, which may sound like a wonderful treat to those who do not live in Chicago. In 8º, 10º, or 0º temperatures -- colder by the lake, of course, and that doesn't even take the wind chill into account -- that mile-long walk is just a disaster. Maybe I'm not wearing the right gloves or something, but my hands are usually blue when I finally get to my building. I'm responsible for "processing" the morning newspapers, which essentially means that I get to carry them upstairs (thanks, guys, for putting them in the biggest puddle you could find. That is so cool of you!) and place them on sticks. Out to the floor they go, where no one ever reads them. Because they are on sticks, and newspapers on sticks are a hassle to read. Next time you're at a library that has newspapers done this way, read them, or at least shuffle them around a little bit, out of pity for the poor person that meticulously tapes down the loose pages and covers herself in newsprint before seven am.
I am fortunate enough (and oh so grateful) to have a boyfriend that will wake up with me, even though he doesn't have to be at work until eight am. Eight in the morning! Lucky dog. He prepares my tea while I blow-dry my hair (otherwise it freezes, and I'm afraid of getting frostbite on my head) and puts out a small breakfast for us. If we're lucky, the paper arrives ten minutes before I have to leave, and we get some quality time reading an article or two (often out loud, if it's me doing the reading, since I always think the news is outrageous: "Get THIS! Representative Debbie Wasserman Shultz (FL; D) buys her Valentino on Ebay!) before I have to dash.
This past weekend, we made some scones for breakfast. We'd been purchasing scones at our local (and new) Trader Joe's, and while they were tasty, there were only three per bag. That's not enough for a week! After seeing this recipe (again, from Bon Appetit Cookbook) we decided, late Sunday night, that this was the perfect breakfast for the week. Especially since we didn't have any other breakfast lined up for the next morning.
These are delicious, and they have kept extremely well. I don't know if it's just me, but I like to keep my bread and bread-based products in the refrigerator. I think it makes them last longer, which may or may not be true. This recipe made 22 small scones, and I'd like to make them bigger next time around. Not owning cookie cutters, we used a shot glass to cut the dough, but I think maybe a small wineglass would make a better sized scone. I think you could even just make rounds with your hands, but what do I know? The recipe calls for a cookie cutter, so... shot glass it was!

Chocolate-Chip Orange Scones
Get the boring stuff out of the way first: preheat the oven to 400º and butter and flour a baking sheet.
I'm big on "prepping," that is, getting my ingredients ready to go and making as many containers as I possibly can dirty by putting the readied ingredients into them before they go into the recipe. Nonsensical, but it makes me feel more organized. So, I'd get the zesting out of the way first. Zest an orange, thoroughly, so you have about 3 teaspoons of orange zest. Also, chop your chocolate. We had, on hand, some gigantic milk chocolate chips made by Ghirardelli. They came in a gift basket (from his father: thank you!) in a big blue tin, and they're very tasty. I think you can use any type of chocolate you like, but the recipe says semi-sweet. We chopped up the chips, since they really are gigantic, and ended up with about 1 cup of chopped chocolate. I do have to say, I'm a big fan of using a knife to chop up chocolate, rather than just purchasing chips. You end up with a lot of different sized pieces this way (especially if you do a rough chop) and that's just more pleasant in a cookie, scone, or other baked chocolate-chip good, in my opinion.
Whisk together 2 cups of all-purpose flour, 1/3 cup of sugar, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda, and 3/4 teaspoon salt until they are combined. Add 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) which should be chopped up into manageable pieces and 2 teaspoons orange peel; rub into the flour mixture until it looks like a coarse meal. I have to stop for a moment to profess my love for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer, which was a gift from my great-aunt to my mother, who passed it on to me. I use it all the time, for everything from meatloaf to cookies, and it's one of my favorite kitchen tools of all time. Nevermind that I don't own a strainer, food processor, double-boiler, vegetable steamer, or a medium-sized pot: I have a KitchenAid! It can steam vegetables, right? Plus, it's gorgeous. I can't wait until I have to move into an apartment with a tiny kitchen and eschew a microwave so that the mixer can have a proper place of honor on the counter.
Back to the recipe. Now, mix in the chocolate. Yum.
In a separate container, combine 2/3 a cup of chilled buttermilk, 1 large egg yolk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract.
Add the liquid to the flour/butter mixture, and stir with a fork (or with your KitchenAid Mixer!) until it forms into clumps. Gather into a ball, then press out onto a lightly floured surface to about a 3/4 inch thickness. Of course, I used every last teaspoon of flour I had on the pan and in the dough, so I just used some parchment paper, and it didn't stick at all. Fabulous.
Using a 2-inch cookie cutter (the recipe says "heart-shaped," but I think they should be "crazy-shaped," or "circular," or "shot-glass shaped," which is just circular, I guess) cut out the scones, then roll up the dough and cut more scones. Repeat until the dough is gone.
Lay them out on your lightly buttered and floured cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart. You can stop now and put them in the fridge, then pop them in the oven in the morning for fresh-baked scones, but I don't have time for that. It is a really good idea, though.
Mix 3 tablespoons of sugar with the remaining 1 teaspoon of orange zest. Brush scones lightly with buttermilk and top with the sugar/orange mixture. Don't skip this step, because it makes the scones really fabulous. Bake until the scones are lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. It should be about 15 minutes, 20 if they're coming from the fridge.
Eat them, commenting frequently on how light and refreshing they are. Must be the orange zest. These scones are delicious with tea, probably very good with coffee, and are an excellent thing to bring as a dessert for after lunch.


Julie said...

Found you via the Advice Smackdown, and thought I'd let you know the closest coach outlet to you is probably the one in Pleasant Prarie, Wisconsin.I have no idea how far it actually is from Chicago, as I spent more than an hour just trying to get through the city on my way from Michigan to Green bay at Thanksgiving,but it didn't seem all that farm and they have a very nice coach outlet along with a ton of other outlet stores.
Also, love the scone recipe!

K8 said...

Thanks, Julie! I'll have to look into that.
I actually found one pretty close to Chicago, in Aurora, Illinois, after some pretty relentless Googling.
On the scones: I was kind of worried that two of us wouldn't be able to eat 22 scones in a week, but they're already gone. They are really good. The recipe suggests adding a few toasted hazelnuts to the chocolate, which I might try this time around. Because I'm so making them again for next week.

J said...

Also saw you on Advice Smackdown, and I believe the outlets in Michigan City, IN also have a Coach Outlet. I've never been, but my friend goes there and she has picked up some great bags from the Coach Outlet. Good luck!

K8 said...

Thanks, J! I'll have to check that out the next time I'm passing through Indiana.

pir8bunn3 said...

While I prefer to shape scone in the traditional wedge shape this recipe was excellent. Thank you. It was a big hit at the breakfast table this morning.

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