Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Red currant cream scones with kumquat glaze

One of the best things about having my mother visit for the holidays is the inevitable trip to Whole Foods on her dime. Its not that I take advantage, but I'm usually able to get away with getting a new/exotic (and since its WF not really cheap) ingredient to cook with. This particular time I grabbed some kumquats and fresh red currants.

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Now, for those that don't know, kumquats are odd little fruits. In the opposite fashion of most citrus, the skin is sweet while the flesh is tart. They can be eaten without peeling, although they do have seeds in them so watch out if you pop one in your mouth. Red currants, unlike their black cousins, are also slightly tart, so they generally aren't for eating raw but used as an ingredient in another dish. So, what is a person to do with them? Well, I've always felt that sour goes well with savory, so using them as a sauce for a pork tenderloin was an idea. But then the idea of scones popped into my head.

There are generally two type of scones that people make, cream or buttermilk. Logically, they only differ by type of dairy used, but the flavor profiles can dictate what other flavors you use. Since cream scones carry a sweeter and lighter flavor I figured that would work best with the tartness of the currants. To follow up on the sweet/tart combo, I decided to use the kumquats to make a glaze. So lets get with it:

Red Currant Cream Scones:

2 cups flour

1 tbsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

1/3 cup sugar

1/4 cup butter, chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes

3/4 cup cream

1 large egg, lightly wisked

1 pint currants, dusted in flour

1. Sift together the dry ingredients. Cut the butter into the flour mix until the butter is covered and resembles fine crumbs. (I use my finger tips, but you could do all this in a food processor if you want)
2. Combine the cream and egg and fold the wet mix into the dry ingredients just to incorporate.
3. Fold in the currants, taking care not to smash them up too much.
4. Roll the dough on a floured work surface to get a snake roughly 3-4" thick. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Turn on oven to 400 deg.
5. Slice dough into inch thick rounds and place on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake for 15-20 minutes (tops should be lightly browned).
6. Allow to cool completely before glazing.

NOTES: The cut rounds can be placed in a freezer bag and frozen for a good month (possibly longer although I've never had them last that long). You can bake them straight from the freezer, just adjust the cooking time as necessary.
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Kumquat glaze:

2 tbsp. butter
2 cups confectioners sugar
1 pint kumquats, washed

1. Slice the kumquats and de-seed. Place in a food processor or blender and puree.
2. Strain off juice and add to a pan with the butter and sugar. Cook over medium heat till thick (coats the back of a spoon). Remove from heat and cool on counter.
3. When glaze is cool but sill flows, pour over cooled scones.
4. Keep extra glaze in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 month.

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These scones are really tasty, and if you freeze the rounds, pretty convenient. The sweet/tart combinations between the scone, the currants, and the kumquat glaze is nice and refreshing. In retrospect, the only thing I regret was not using the kumquat pulp in a batch of the scones themselves and doing a currant glaze to see how that worked (DO save the pulp and use though, its a total waste to simply throw it out). If you don't have currants or kumquats available (not everyone's mother will buy them I'm sure) you can easily substitute blueberries for the currants and oranges for the glaze. Or really, a lot of other fruits for that matter. The base recipe for both the scone dough and the glaze is pretty flexible if you're willing to experiment. And if you come up with some new/amazing combination, let me know, I'd love try it myself.

And since its that time of the year, have a great Christmas/your preferred holiday and a happy New Years everyone!

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