Archive for the ‘Scones’ Category

Blood? Guts? Only after a good breakfast…

Maple Walnut Scones

Maple Walnut Scones with dried papaya: not just for Halloween.

Halloween falls on a Sunday this year. For those of any age who are heavily into the costume drama of the holiday, this reduces the stress of having to run home from work or school in order to change into a vampire bat (or witch, or Spider Man, or Princess.)

When I was a kid we were still allowed to Trick or Treat door to door unencumbered—uh, I mean—unaccompanied by parents. We would run out the door, sometimes with a time limit (“I expect you back in one hour.”) or sometimes with a geographic limit (“No farther than Parker Street, then come home, understand?”) but that was it.

By necessity, parents are now so heavily involved in the Trick Or Treat event that it makes you wonder who is left at home to hand out candy. Living in New York City makes for an amusing Halloween. Streams of costumed little kids, wrangled by their parents (or is it the other way around?), walk up and down West End Avenue, usually on their way to a party. I fear there is very little door to door activity left, even within apartment buildings. It has been years since I needed to buy a bag of mini Trick or Treat candy bars; if I get any spooky visitors this year they’ll get full-sized bars of my beloved Damak Chocolate. Hmmm. What will become of that chocolate if no one rings the bell? (A short lived problem, I promise.)

A Sunday Halloween means that the whole family can start the day together with a good old fashioned Halloween breakfast. What, you ask, is a good old fashioned Halloween breakfast? I don’t know. I’m about to make it up as I write this blog posting. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise that I don’t need much of an excuse to mark any holiday or event with food.

You could make a good solid argument for having a good solid breakfast on Halloween. When I was a kid returning from Trick or Treating, my Mom made me eat a good solid dinner before I could inhale all that candy. I think she believed a little meatloaf in my stomach would counterbalance the several tons of sugar I had toted home. Of course, in those days the worst that could happen from eating too much candy was that you’d get “a bad tummy ache.”

Short of eating candy for breakfast, how can you bring a bit of Halloween into the morning meal? It’s a concept-y thing. A restrained dash of kitsch is fine, but please: no scrambled eggs masquerading as brains, and if you insist on calling your strawberry jelly “bloody hearts on toast” at least make sure it’s good toast.

So, no, kitsch is not my cup of breakfast tea. I prefer a bit more subtlety, a wink where others may enjoy a full-on stare; there’ll be time for spooky stuff and candy later on in the day. Halloween is really the first of the big cool weather holidays, the first step in the slide to the Christmas home plate. Why not commit to a weekend breakfast with the whole family present and accounted for? In some families that can be enough of a novelty to make the day special.

Leave your usual harried breakfast on the shelf. I love breakfast cereal, but why not mark this occasion with a scrambled egg or two, some organic breakfast sausage, brew a bit of fragrant hazelnut coffee, and indulge in a few items from the list we call “a little somethin'”

Adding a dollop of canned prepared pumpkin to pancake batter will lend them an autumn hue and flavor suited to the occasion. Cranberry Nut Muffins will give a gentle preview of Thanksgiving a few weeks hence. Sounds good.

My “little somethin'” of choice this year are Candy Corn Scones. The name is a full-on embrace of kitsch, but the scones are indeed a subtle wink: no actual candy corn was injured baking them. The trick is that you can enjoy this treat long after the costumes have been put away. Just what is it that makes them Candy Corn Scones?

I knew I needed a bit of candy corn color, and the question was: what could I add to the scones that would have the right color (unreal autumn orange) and the right flavor (mildly sweet without being icky) but that would not melt away while the scones baked?

A cruise up and down the dried fruit and nut shelves at my supermarket made the choice easy. Dried apricots could have worked, but their pale yellow was a bit too restrained. Dried papaya fit the bill.

A basic scone is a simple, not terribly sweet quick bread. While traditionalists may insist on making scones with cream, I used 2% Greek yogurt, a compromise that provided rich texture and a buttermilk-like tang. Instead of sugar I sweetened the dough with maple syrup which was then echoed in a muddy brown maple syrup glaze that I drizzled on top after the scones cooled. And to reinforce the little nibble aesthetic of candy corn, I cut the unbaked dough into 2” x 2” triangles, insanely small in a world of King Kong-sized breakfast goodies. But the small size makes them somehow less intimidating; if you’ve gone to the trouble to bake scones you don’t want folks’ first question to be, “Will you share one with me?”

And the question remains: should I dress as an astronaut or Zorro…again?

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Click here for the recipe for Maple Walnut Scones.

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