Scones make me think of a stodgy, listless tea party with Joan Plowright and Emma Thompson in a Merchant-Ivory picture, where no one reveals a single true emotion, Joan peers down through half-spectacles and huffs disapprovingly at everything she sees, and Emma is fraught with concern over relatives on deathbeds, if she’ll be invited to a respectable home for the winter, and whether or not Fanny the chambermaid has located the missing bed warmer.
No… scones do not interest me in the least. I’ll happily pass them up in any bakery case or grocery aisle, in any stage of freshness any day of the week. I’ve always found them to be heavy, cumbersome, and a real effort to get through, much like many a Merchant-Ivory picture.
Then I discovered this recipe for jalapeno cheddar scones.
If Merchant-Ivory had ever made a film where Emma and Joan have a hot-oil wrestling match and Grace Jones kicks in the salon door and snaps Hugh Grant’s neck between her thighs, these are the scones that would be served.
Jalapeno Cheddar Scones from rom Smitten Kitchen
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick or 4 ounces) cold butter, diced
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 3 eggs, divided
- 1/4 pound sharp Cheddar cheese, diced
- 3 small jalapeños pepper, minced
My balcony’s “little jalapeno plant that could” managed to produce only three peppers before closing up shop until spring, but three were more than enough for this recipe, which originally only called for two. I diced them up and threw them into a heated pan with half a tablespoon of butter and stirred them around, leaving them to cook for about three minutes.
Let the peppers cool in a bowl and once they have, drop them in with the cheddar cheese and coat them with one tablespoon of flour. Combine the remaining flour with the baking powder and salt.
The next stage was to “cut in the remaining butter with a pastry blender… until the butter bits are pea sized.” I know what “pea-sized” means but the rest of that instruction left me completely scrunch-nosed. Basically, cut the butter up into teeny-tiny pieces. Why it is necessary to do it this way I have no idea, but I’m not confident enough yet in the kitchen not to stay the course. Additionally, I had no idea what “divided” eggs meant, which made me nervous. MG looked it up on the internet. It means you won’t use all the required eggs in one place. Get it? They’re divided! I always think everything is harder than it actually is.
Two of the eggs get mixed into the flour-butter mixture, along with the cream. Then using a wooden spoon, fold mixture until it begins to come together. This was a bit tricky, but eventually it happens. Once it’s come together, throw in the lovely red and yellow cheddar-jalapeno mixture and mix like crazy!
Turn out the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead gently for less than one minute. Then divide it up into approximately 1 inch pieces on a cookie sheet with parchment paper. The last egg is mixed with a teaspoon of water for an egg wash over the tops. This part was my favorite –I got to buy a pastry brush!
Slip the scones into the oven and cook for about 20-25 minutes or until they’re golden brown. They were really quite amazing. Just enough heat delivered by the peppers, the cheese is more present in some bites then others, so it’s always a new taste. Serve with a little jam and snooty English tea… if you must.