Food and Movies: The Hobbit – Cherry Chocolate and Almond Scones

THE HOBBIT: AN UNEXPECTED JOURNEY

 

There are actually no words for how much of a Tolkien fan I am. If you want to ever get creative with torture, take a non-Tolkien fan and have them sit with me through all the extended versions of the Lord of The Rings movies. I may or may not make you want to gouge your eyes out and rip your ears off.

Yes. It’s like that.

Aside from the beautiful cinematography, gorgeous, bearded men and sorcery – there are the hobbits. THE HOBBITS.

They are the most wonderful creatures that literally do nothing but live leisurely. Any creature that sets aside time for a SECOND breakfast has my heart.

If you’ve never seen The Hobbit, firstly – shame on you, but I’ll just go ahead and brief you. Bilbo is a hobbit and he accompanies a band of dwarves on a quest to reclaim their home in a large mountain. They have the help of a wizard and get into some shenanigans on the way.

There was a scene in the first installment of the trilogy The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in which all of the dwarves who stand behind Thorin Oakenshield all arrive at Bilbo’s house and demand food and drink. The first dwarf to arrive, Dwalin, eats all of Bilbo’s personal dinner and an entire jar of what looks like scones or biscuits (hence the inspiration for the recipe below).

The entire scene following Dwalin’s arrival is a food-lover’s dream (or nightmare, if you’re worried about mythical creatures emptying your pantry and leaving you with nothing). The rest of the dwarves arrive for the planning of the upcoming adventure and they storm Bilbo’s pantry and take cheese, wine, vegetables, beer, cured meats and all sorts of wonderful things. The only thing I could think of the whole time is: ‘WHY?! WHY DON’T I HAVE A PANTRY THAT LOOKS LIKE THAT?!’

 

 

The scones below are nice because of the inclusion of sour cream. The sour cream allows for a texture that is somewhere between the normal biscuit texture of a scone and the inside of a muffin.

I’m not afraid to admit – the first time I made these scones, they didn’t turn out quite as well as I had hoped. I actually had to make a second batch because my neuroses would not allow these scones to go public until I fixed them.  They were just too dry for my taste. The sour cream really does the trick.

There were a few other things I did differently the second time around as well: I didn’t overwork the dough, I worked in a quick manner (nothing stressful, just efficient) so that the butter could be as cold as possible before it went in the oven and I lowered the temperature of the oven. I started out at 400 degrees but for the second batch, I lowered it to 375 degrees. I also decided that hydrating the cherries is awesome because it gives you a flavor close to fresh cherries without all the juicy mess of actual fresh cherries. To be honest, you’d probably fine not hydrating them if you’re truly that lazy.

It just goes to show that cooking, no matter how long or often you do it, there is always something to learn. Furthermore, nothing feels quite so good as a recipe you’ve mastered.  At least – to me. I also am a Lord of the Rings nerd and think about things like perfect scone-cooking temperatures.

I have no life.

 

2015-11-17 07.05.24

Cherry Chocolate and Almond Scones

What You’ll Need:

  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup of sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons of baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 lb (two sticks) of cold, unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/2 cup of cold heavy cream
  • 1 tsp of almond extract
  • 1/2 cup of cold sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups of hot water
  • 1 cup of dried tart cherries
  • 1 cup of milk chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup of sliced almonds
  • 1 egg beaten with tablespoons of cream or water for egg wash

Prep: 25 min

Yields: 15-19 scones

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

  1. In a small bowl, put your hot water and dried cherries together to hydrate while you work on your dough. (Sometimes I put a teaspoon of sugar or a small squeeze of honey in the water just give the cherries back some of their sweetness. Totally optional)
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the 4 cups of flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the cold, diced butter and using the pads of your fingertips,  pressing the butter into the flour, work the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. (You can also do this in a food processor but I’ve always liked doing it by hand so that some butter chunks remain large.)
  3. Combine the eggs, heavy cream, sour cream and almond extract in another bowl. Slowly pour the liquids into the flour and butter mixture and mix until BARELY combined. *REMEMBER* Do not overwork the dough. You will cry.
  4. Drain the cherries well and mix them together with the chocolate chips and 1/4 cup of flour. (This is to keep the ingredients from settling to the bottom of the scones) Combine with the dough until just combined.
  5. Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surface and form gently into a ball. Flour your rolling pin and hands and roll the dough to about 3/4-inch thick square. Move the dough constantly so that the dough doesn’t stick to your surface.
  6. With a floured knife, cut your square into smaller squares. 2015-11-18 11.19.35
  7. Then cut those squares diagonally across the middle so that you get two triangles.
  8. Place onto a greased baking sheet. Brush the tops of the triangles with your egg wash and sprinkle sugar and the sliced almonds on top.
  9. Cook for 17 minutes. The tops will brown slightly due to the sugar and the scones will be firm to the touch when done.

 

NOTES:

  • Seriously, don’t overwork the dough. Keep things as cold as you can. This means not taking out your sour cream, heavy cream and butter until right when you need it.
  • Work in a timely manner. Don’t stand around, on a coffee break or whatever because your butter in the dough will melt and you won’t get good scones. Tears will ensue.
  • Flour your rolling surface but don’t go crazy. Adding too much extra flour to the dough will most certainly make your scones tough.
  • Also, hydrate those cherries. It’s worth the extra iota of energy you will expend.
  • I chose milk chocolate chips because the creaminess works well with the tartness of the cherries and the smooth nuttiness of the almonds. If you’re one of those chocolate snobs who can’t bear the thought of anything less than 95% cocoa solids, be my guest. Does it help if I told you I used Ghirardelli milk chocolate? Classy stuff.

 

Pour yourself some tea and watch The Hobbit as you munch away, dreaming of a world where Second Breakfast and Elevensies exists.

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