Sunday, March 11, 2007

Maple-Walnut Scones

One of my favorite flavor combinations is maple and walnut. It's not an accident that the cookies I have in the March issue of Cooking Light has that combination of flavors (I know, it's the second time I've brought this up, but it's the first time I've been pictured in a national publication so give me some slack here).

Today I decided to try the recipe for New Hampshire Maple-Walnut Scones from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion. The recipe plugs maple syrup from New Hampshire. I used Wegman's branded maple syrup of unknown origin, but I can say from experience that New York has really good maple syrup as well.

The challenge of baking with maple syrup is that maple syrup actually has a subtle flavor that can get lost. You really need some bottled maple flavoring to give the maple flavor a boost. In fact, this recipe didn't call for enough of the stuff to my taste.

They weren't the very best scones I've ever made, but they were pretty good. The dough was sticky and hard to work with. Here's the way I'd make them if I decide to make them again. I made half of a batch; the original batch made 16 scones.

Maple Walnut Scones
Adapted from The King Arthur Flour Baker's Companion

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup cold butter
1/2 cup finely chopped toasted walnuts, plus a little more for the top
1/2 cup milk (I used 1%)
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/2 teaspoon maple flavoring

Preheat oven to 425 F.

In large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the walnuts.

In a separate bowl, combine the milk, maple syrup (reserve 1 tablespoon syrup for brushing on scones), and the maple flavoring. Add to the dry ingredients and mix until you've formed a very soft dough.

Generously flour your work surface, then scrape the dough onto the floured surface. Use floured fingers to pat the dough into a 7-inch circle about 7/8 inch thick. Use a bench knife or pizza wheel to cut the dough into 8 wedges.

Place the wedges on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, in the same configuration that you cut them, but spacing them one inch apart. Pierce the tops of the scones with the tines of a fork and brush them with some of the remaining maple syrup. If you have some leftover chopped walnuts, sprinkle them on top.

Bake for 15 - 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove them from the oven and brush again with any remaining maple syrup. Let cool a couple of minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 8 scones.

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