Gloomy Day: Pistachio Amaretto Scones

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We’ve been having a lot of what I call London weather—rainy, cloudy, chilly. It feels more like late fall than the middle of spring. While large doses of this kind of weather aren’t exactly good for my disposition, there are some positive emotions that stir when the weather is like this. I picture myself wrapped up in my wooly, knitted blanket, curled up on my antique leather chair drinking tea and reading Margaret Atwood. Perhaps because when I first moved to the city and didn’t have a job (and needed a way to escape the overwhelming feeling of a new place, new people and a new life), I devoured books like it was my job. I dusted off a Margaret Atwood book—The Handmaid’s Tale—that I stole from my mom’s bookshelf before my move, and began reading. I think it was about 30 pages in that I realized just how amazing Atwood was at creating such dynamic characters. Her writing stirred such visceral reactions—bursts of laughter, gut-wrenching fear, and fits of anger (I’m sure I’ve tossed a book or two in protest). Her writing is nothing short of a work of art. But I digress…

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So despite the fact that visions of toasty teacups and books screaming to be read are dancing in my head, most of the time I’m in my chilly office wishing I were doing just that. I daydream a lot at my desk…

But this weather also evokes a need to cook, or mostly bake. There is something warm and soothing about stirring butter and sugar together into a sweet, creamy concoction. Plus the oven helps warm a drafty city apartment and a tiny-framed Irish girl. So it became my endeavor to create something that would compliment my Earl Grey obsession and my Atwood-esque mood and leave me content (and temporarily full). That’s not too much to ask, right? The obvious choice was scones. Flaky, pastry goodness that enjoys both being lightly torn into crumbly morsels or going for a brief dunk into a soothing, milk-kissed tea. Day 100 of cold, dreary weather and the scone extravaganza was most certainly happening.

I dragged myself out, shopping tote in hand, ready to brave the blustery elements. As I was walking to the grocery store pondering what kinds of delicious scones I would make, it hit me—pistachios and amaretto. I had been craving pistachios for weeks, and I secretly blamed my mom, a lover of all things pistachio, because I assumed my craving was a physical manifestation of homesickness. I figured combining my intense pistachio craving with my love of dessert seemed like the perfect way to cheer me up.

Pistachio Amaretto Scone Recipe:

(Yields about 12 perfect scones)

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 TBSP baking powder

1 box of pistachio pudding mix

3 TBSP granulated sugar

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups sour cream (I used fat-free, but that’s just my guilty conscious taking over. Flirt with danger and go for the real sour cream.)

1 stick of butter (softened)

1 TBSP of almond extract (I didn’t want the almond to overwhelm the pistachio flavor, but you can always add more if you want more amaretto flavor. You could also substitute the almond extract for real Amaretto to give it a kick…may I recommend Disaronno?)

Directions:

1. Mix dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, pudding mix, salt and sugar).

2. Add the softened butter and mix well.

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3. Gently add the sour cream, vanilla and almond extract.

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4. Now it’s time to work everything together until you create a pliable dough. Be careful not to overwork the dough or the scones will be tough. For some, the need to make a perfectly shaped scone is most important. For me, it’s more about the taste, so I didn’t worry too much about cutting them perfectly. I just tore off a handful of the dough and shaped it into a little scone-like ball (and repeated for the rest of the dough).

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5. Grease a cookie sheet. Add the scones to the sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes or until the tops are golden.  Serve with a freshly steeped pot of Earl Grey tea.

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These scones were so light and airy that I didn’t need the typical powdered sugar sprinkling, clotted cream smear or pat of butter. But if you so desire, a nice sprinkle of powdered sugar immediately upon removing them from the oven will create a nice, hardened (and might I add, yummy) top layer of sugar.

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I’d like to say I slaved away in the kitchen for hours making these, but honestly the recipe is so easy it’s impossible to screw up.  I must admit, a few seconds after biting into this warm, out-of-the-oven scone and sipping some aged earl grey tea, I felt refreshed (almost enough to shout to the weather gods, “Bring it.” ALMOST…).  I devoured about three of these, much to my dismay (I freely admit that I have absolutely no willpower), and immediately left the rest for my roommate and apartment guests (OK, maybe a little willpower).

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Now if only there was time to curl up with a blanket and read the day away. Soon perhaps….soon.

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