Monday, September 16, 2013

Fall is here!

Fall would've been my second favorite season, after summer of course, but since I have a difficulty staying in the moment and always look ahead, I think of all the cold and windy winter days to come. But only this once I'll try to enjoy the cool mornings for the sake of my all time favorite... (drum roll) pumpkin spice lattes! And pumpkin everything for that matter! I love getting them at Starbucks and I was equally as excited as sad for the thought of summer ending, when they started serving them last week of August. I mean, August? Really? Nah, I can't really complain, I love them.
I did not grow up with pumpkins, since of course I spent 18 years in Poland, where pumpkins or squashes are not utilized in cooking, so my pumpkin obsession can be attributed to my early childhood deprivation. 
So here's couple wonderful recipes for a pumpkin syrup and pumpkin scones. I will throw in a recipe for amazing cranberry and lemon scones too, just in case you're pumpkin overloaded.

Pumpkin Spice Syrup
Boil together 1 1/2 cups water and 1 1/2 cups of sugar until the sugar dissolves. Add:
 4 cinnamon sticks,
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger and ground cloves,
3 tablespoons pumpkin puree - I used canned pumpkin by Libby's.
Simmer everything for 5 minutes. Keep in the fridge. The original recipe, which you can find HERE, recommends that you strain the liquid. I did not strain it and had some residue on the bottom of my coffee cup. A friend of mine did strain it and also had some residue, although much less than I did, I am sure. But if the residue is just the spices then, well, I guess I'm OK with it.

Pumpkin Scones
Mix together:
2 cups all purpose flour,
1/3 brown sugar,
1 teaspoon baking powder,
1/2 teaspoon baking soda,
1/2 teaspoon salt,
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon,
3/4 teaspoon of each ground ginger and ground cloves,
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.
Set aside. Have a stick of unsalted butter chilling in a freezer ready.
In a separate dish mix together:
1 egg,
1/2 cup pumpkin puree (here I also used Libby's pumpkin, NOT the pumpkin pie filling),
1 tablespoon molasses,
3 tablespoons half and half (I used non fat),
2 teaspoons vanilla.
Whisk together. I used a food processor for this. You can either use a real blade or a plastic one if yours comes with it. I have used either for making the dough. Mix the flower mixture and a cut up frozen stick of butter in the processor - pulsate it a few times, the mixture will certainly NOT look combined. Add the wet ingredients and pulsate couple more times, make sure you do not overmix the dough. The whole idea about scones is to not overmix the dough. Take the dough out of the processor onto a floured counter top and flatten out. Cut it up into 8 squares, as if you were cutting a pizza. This will make large scones. Since I like small ones I divided the dough into two "balls" and cut each into 8 pieces. Bake on a parchment paper for 13 minutes at 400 degrees.
The scones you will end up with will be more moist than scones should be, I think, but I guess thats the price you have to pay for adding the pumpkin.
To make a pumpkin glaze mix together 1 cup powdered sugar, 1 tablespoon pumpkin puree, 1/8 teaspoon of each ground cloves, ginger and cinnamon and 2 tablespoons half and half. Adjust consistency with half and half and powdered sugar.
The original recipe, which you can find HERE, also included a simple sugar glaze. I thought that the pumpkin glaze was enough, though.

Cranberry and Lemon Scones
These are very, very tasty. And equally as simple to make.
2 cups all purpose flour,
1/3 cup of sugar,
1 teaspoon baking powder,
1/8 teaspoon baking soda,
and 1/2 teaspoon salt with 1 stick of unsalted frozen butter in a food processor and pulse a few times. Add:
1 egg,
1/2 cup sour cream ( I used low fat)
1/2 cup raisins or nuts of your choice
zest of one lemon
Pulse the food processor blade just until the dough is combined. Do not overmix. That's pretty much it! Divide into two balls, flatten on a floured surface and cut each into 8 squares, just like you're cutting a pizza. Bake about 15 minutes at 400 degrees. I enjoyed these without a glaze.

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