Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

Usually, my trips to Traders Joes are surigcal.  I’m there right when they open.  I have a list. And, I follow the list with tunnel vision.  I do not stroll.  I do not look around me. This is because  I have to do my TJs run on Saturday mornings.  Just like everyone else.

A couple of months ago my parents were in town for a visit.  They live outside of Bozeman Montana.  And while it has a lot going for it, Bozeman does not have a Trader Joes (I think the closest one is in Salt Lake City).

My parents have lived there full-time for nearly 10 years.  My mom still hasn’t gotten over the lack of a local TJs.

For this reason, California visits by my parents involve multiple trips to Trader Joes.  I was out and about with them for one visit.  Because it wasn’t Saturday morning, my local TJs was actually hospitable.  So, we worked our way up and down every single aisle.  By aisle two I had to abandon my basket for a cart as treasures like I’d never seen were revealed to me.  Pancake bread?  Yes please.  Mushroom umami salt?  Sign me up.  Dried hibiscus flowers?  Sure–I know I can come up with a way to use them.

I am a collector of “things I’ll figure out how to bake with.”  I have two bins full of wonders like honey powder, freeze dried corn and dried blueberries.

This time, I actually already had something in mind when I picked up the dried hibiscus flowers.  Whole Foods makes a fantastic ginger scone.  They’re crumbly, spicy and just sweet enough.  I don’t eat them very often but every time I do I think “I gotta make these.” I then immediately forget until the next time I eat a Whole Foods ginger scone.  You know how it goes.

Luckily, I’d just had one the week before so the pump was primed.  Hibiscus flowers are aromatic, slightly sour (but in the good way) and at least to my taste buds, reminiscent of citrus.  I thought they might be good friends with candied ginger.

I used buttermilk in this recipe as opposed to the traditional cream because I already had it. I worked.  But, cream would work too.

And instead of traditional pie wedges, I decided to go with cut-out rounds.  That’s how Whole Foods does them.

But, I give instructions for both shapes in the recipe (and, next time I make them, I’ll do the wedges–these looked too much like biscuits to my eyes).

My guess was correct–ginger and hibiscus do pair well together.  The same combo would also be great in a muffin or loaf.

Ginger and Hibiscus Scones

adapted from Ginger Scones by Elise Bauer on Simply Recipes

makes 12-18 scones depending on size

Ingredients

  • 3 C (400 g) all purpose flour
  • 3/4 C (160 g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 3/4 C (110 g) candied ginger, chopped
  • 1/2 C (73g) dried hibiscus flowers (found at Trader Joes)*
  • 1 TBS fresh ginger, grated
  • 3/4 C (200 ml)  buttermilk at room temp
  • 10 TBS (140 g) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes
  • 1 TBS coarse sugar for sprinkling on top (optional)
  • 1 egg + 2 TBS water (for egg wash)

* There are multiple kinds of hibiscus flours.  For this recipe, I used the kind that are similar to dried fruits like these dried eatable hibiscus flowers.  You can also get hibiscus flours that have been dried for tea.  This version is more desiccated like these organic hibiscus flowers.  The latter would work as well but the result would be more like adding dried tea to the dough rather than a dried fruit.

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F (or 200°C). Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt.
  3. Stir in the gingers and hibiscus flowers until combined.
  4. Add-in the cold butter pieces. Using your fingertips or a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the dry mixture until the “dough” resemble wet sand with larger pea-sized pieces of butter.
  5. Create a well in the center of the flour, pour in  the buttermilk. Gently mix with a wooden spoon until the flour mixture is just moistened. The mixture should look very shaggy.
  6. Turn the mixture out onto a lightly floured surface.  Give the dough two or three kneads (to just barely pull it together).  You have a couple of options here.  To make triangular scones, divide the dough into two and form each into a round disc.  Cut each disc into 6 pie parts.  You could also use a biscuit cutter.  To do this, flatten the dough into a disk.  Using biscuit cutter, cut out rounds.  Once all rounds that will fit have been cut, push remaining dough together and cut again. Repeat until you cannot cut any more rounds.  Do remix dough as you go.  Just squish together.
  7. Place triangles or rounds on baking sheets with a couple of inches in-between each.  Bruch the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.
  8. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until scones are lightly browned on top (start checking at 15 minutes).  Cool on cooling rack.  Best served the day-of but can be stored for a couple of days in an airtight container (you just lose the crunchy texture).

Put the almond in the cocoa powder and eat it all up

What?  That doesn’t work? Fine.

We continue our adventures with gluten free baking this week.

In general, my weekly trips to Trader Joes are precise,  surgical and leave little room for casual perusal.  Experience has taught me that unless I show up at a specific Trader Joes right as it opens on Sunday morning, the shopping experience will leave me wanting to poke someone’s eye out with one of those little toothpicks they use to serve the samples (see blog name for explanation).

Every once in a while (like once a year), I get lucky and it seems like the only people in the store are me and the friendly staff.  This happened recently and I actually paused to look around the nut butter section while picking up the sun butter for last week’s post.  This was probably a bad idea on my part because what did I spy with my little eye?  None other than Nutella’s American cousin: Cocoa Almond Spread.

For reason’s I’ve just explained, I’d never seen this concoction before and knew immediately that I had to make something with it (this has absolutely nothing to do with a strong desired to sit down with the jar and a spoon…how dare you suggest this).  The spread has the same consistency as almond butter (duh).  Thicker than nutella.  It’s also less sweet than the hazelnut version (though still sweet enough to reduce the sugar in the recipe).

As soon as I got home, I pulled my almond flour out of the freezer and got to work using the sun butter blossoms recipe as a blueprint.

The almond flour obviously behaved very differently than the corn flour and, with about a tablespoon and a half of dough, I go beautiful, perfectly round 3 1/2 inch cookies.  They had a nice texture reminiscent of their fancier kin, the macaron.

Seeing the finished versions cooling on their wire racks sent my brain to a singular place.

That’s right, these made the perfect ice cream sandwich cookies.  You could also spread a nice layer of the cocoa almond butter on the inside of a cookie, top it with another and you’d have yourself an excellent sandwich cookie.

Soundtrack

Ray LaMontagne

Cocoa Almond Cookies

recipes makes about 18 (1 1/2 dozen, is easily doubled)

Ingredients

  • 1 C cocoa almond butter
  • 1/3 C sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 C almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, line 2-4 baking pans with parchment paper
  2. Using a standing or hand mixer, cream together the sugar and cocoa almond butter for two-to-three minutes.
  3. Beat-in the egg and vanilla until batter is smooth.
  4. By hand, sift-in flour and baking powder and then fold until the flour is just combined into the batter.
  5. Roll batter into balls using about 1 1/2 TBS (less if you want a smaller cookie).
  6. Set balls on lined baking sheets about three-inches apart.  Cookies will spread significantly (diameter will nearly triple).
  7. Bake 8-10 minutes until cookies appear set.
  8. Slide parchment off of cookie sheets and allow cookies to cool on the parchment.
  9. Ice cream optional!