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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Super-Secret Scones

I've spent the last week experimenting for Thanksgiving to assure that my desserts will be perfect for the actual day. That meant buying various ingredients and trying them out in different proportions until I found the right combination that is sure to succeed. I feel confident with my final products, so let's see on Thursday how my guests feel!

However, my splurge of Thanksgiving ingredients left me penniless for basic apartment staples, mainly cereal, and if you know me, then you know that my cereal consumption is off the charts, especially when I've got an epic case of the drunchies.

I am also addicted to the entire meal of breakfast. I never leave home without eating breakfast, even if it means being late to class/work/friends. The rumours are true: it is the most important meal of the day! Usually when I wake up in the morning, I'm starving as it is, so going without my morning meal is just a recipe for heightened crankiness, sarcasm, and even sadism on occasion. [Whoa, is that really how you spell that word? For some reason I always thought 'occasion' had two "s"s]

Since I'm not going home for the break until Wednesday, I need some breakfast food to sustain me for two days. To use up my leftover ingredients, I opted for something pretty simple: scones! My tweaked recipe reveals a healthier version that can be frozen the night before and popped in the oven while you get ready in the morning. 2o minutes later, you have yourself a wonderfully warm scone topped with some orange blossom honey [the best honey there is. No, really].

The reason for the title of this post is my secret ingredient for the scones: ricotta cheese! It is extremely moist and gives the dough body without the added fat that comes from butter. Plus, it is so mild that you don't even taste it in the final product. The scones benefit from a more tender crumb and some extra protein as well.

I shaped the scones into rounds using an ice cream scoop, but you can just as easily form the traditional triangle shape. Just make sure that your work surface is floured and your hands are wet so the dough doesn't stick to you.

If you are a batter taster like I am, don't worry that it doesn't taste so sweet; the cranberries and honey make up for that once they are baked.

Have a happy Thanksgiving!

Super-Secret Scones

1 large egg
3/4 cup NF milk
1/4 cup non-fat ricotta cheese
1 2/3 cups whole-wheat flour
1 1/3 cups old fashioned oats
1/3 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp BP
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 Tbsp cold, unsalted butter, grated
1/3 cup sweetened dried cranberries
Orange blossom honey, to glaze and for garnish

Line a baking sheet with a Silpat and set aside. If you don't have a Silpat, you can use parchment paper [NOT wax paper] or just grease the sheet well.

Whisk the egg, milk, and ricotta cheese together and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt and nutmeg in a large bowl. Add the butter to the dry ingredients, using your fingers to quickly incorporate the butter and flour mixture.

Pour the egg/milk/ricotta mixture over the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon just until the dough, which will be wet and sticky, comes together. Add the cranberries.

Still in the bowl, gently knead the dough by hand or turn it with a rubber spatula about 8 to 10 times. Use a 1/4 cup ice cream scoop to portion out 12 scone dough balls. Cover the baking sheet with plastic wrap and freeze at least 30 minutes or overnight.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Warm some honey in the microwave and lightly brush over frozen scones. Bake for 20 minutes or until their tops are golden and firmish. Transfer them to a rack and cool for 10 minutes. Serve with additional honey.

Calories per scone: 150

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