The truth is that I’ve been hating on scones for some time now.
I conducted a few spontaneous interviews with a random sample of friends and family and I don’t think I’m the only one who engages in Scone Hatery.
My favorite comment, delivered by particularly pithy pal, was “Scones make me think of crusty old British people sitting around wearing kilts and drinking gross tea.” Right on, my friend.
The straw that broke the camel’s back occurred during a particular painful road trip with A.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, road-tripping with A. is similar to being trapped inside an elevator with only a radio that is permanently stuck on SportsCenter.
No food. No beverages. DEFINITELY no bathroom breaks. Just a continuous loop of Stuart Scott and endless stats.
Oh, the stats.
It doesn’t matter if your bladder explodes because your brain will likely slide of your ear as a result of Sports Stat Overload (yes this is an actual diagnosis).
I made an amateur’s mistake and neglected to prepare for this particular trip. No food or beverages were consumed, I forgot to hit the restroom, and I left my earplugs behind.
Flash forward 4 hours and I was officially in the bell jar: starving, dehydrated, and able to recite the ERA of every player in the National League.
Luckily, A. took pity on me. We pulled into a rest stop and I stumbled out of the car.
I crawled on my hands and knees into the rest stop (not really, but stay with me for the dramatic effect) while A. stayed behind to catch the beginning of the stats for the American League.
This rest stop was my Garden of Eden.
This rest stop was an oasis on my horizon.
This rest stop was going to rescue me from a sure fate of shriveling up into a stat-spewing raisin.
Unfortunately this rest stop was apparently operated by crusty old kilt-wearing Brits.
I scoured the shelves and examined the bakery case – the only thing that turned up was a single, lonely scone behind the glass. I had no choice. I purchased said scone while muttering National League stats under my hunger-hazed breath and crawled back to the car.
I don’t know what was in that scone. I’ll keep the sports talk going and generously compare it to a hockey puck. I don’t even remember eating it.
But any port in a storm, right? So I choked it back and braced myself for the American League onslaught.
I did one more thing, though: I swore off scones forever. For. Ever.
Flash forward several years and my recovery is complete. I’ve mercifully forgotten all of those stats and I’m willing to give scones one more try. No hockey pucks here. No boring old flavors like currant or lemon. No. We’re using cream cheese and buttermilk and fresh, Sonoran honey. You can use the honey of your choice.
And wait! We’re also punching things up with just a pinch of freshly ground habanero chiles. There’s nothing like a hint of spice with your honey. If you’re nervous, you can use less than the half teaspoon that I used. Or simply omit the habanero all together. But I think you should give it a try.
We’re also cutting our scones dainty and small and we’re brushing them with butter just before they come out of the oven. Things end nicely on your plate, right next to a mug of (not gross) tea.
So the moral of the story is as follows:
1. You never know when you’re going to be trapped in a car with SportsCenter on an endless loop.
2. You can’t anticipate pulling into a rest stop operated by crusty old kilt-wearing Brits who only serve hockey puck scones.
3. Both of the above situations can be safely resolved by making a batch of Honey & Habanero Scones and tucking them into your glove compartment.
Safety first. Scones second. Stats… talk to me after a few more scones.
Honey & Habanero Scones
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. white sugar, granulated
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled, cubed
1/4 c. buttermilk
1/2 c. cream cheese
1 large egg
1/2 tsp. habanero chile, dried, ground
3/4 c. honey
melted butter for brushing
Chef’s Note: Habaneros are extremely hot chiles and can be harmful to your health if not handled properly. Don’t be deceived by the small amount included in these scones – it just takes a pinch to make contact with your skin and you’ll be very sorry that you didn’t take proper precautions. Especially if you plan on grinding your own habaneros, I strongly advise wearing gloves and working in a well-ventilated (but not breezy) space. Keep things clean and, of course, keep your hands away from your face and eyes. Habaneros have a lovely heat and flavor, they simply need to be handled with care.
Preheat oven to 400°.
Place flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and ground habanero in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Pulse process just to mix. Add butter and cream cheese and pulse process until the mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add in buttermilk, honey and egg, processing just until a solid mass has formed. Remove dough to a floured work space.
Knead your dough for just a few turns and roll it out to approximately 1/2″ thick (this dough is quite sticky – be sure to flour your pin). Cut out scones using a 2 1/2″ biscuit cutter and remove to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Note that I chose to make thinner, smaller scones – you may opt to make thicker scones that are cut into larger, traditional triangles and skip the biscuit cutter all together. If you go this route, you will simply need to add a few minutes to your baking time.
Bake scones for 12 minutes. Remove, brush with butter and bake for an additional 2 minutes. Finished scones will be golden brown at the bottom and edges. Serve immediately or store for up to a week in a sealed container.
YIELD: approximately 40 scones