Here’s another one of my scones…I just keep coming up with new ideas, hope you don’t mind! I was inspired by a couple of things when I set out to make these guys. My grandmother, one of my inspirations, who I lost almost 1 year ago, was famous for her pecans. Nama’s Nuts, we called them. She baked them in the oven, coated in an obscene amount of butter and salt and put them out on the food table during cocktail parties. They were so completely addictive that many of my family members are known to have eaten them by the cupful. I may or may not have been one of those family members… And they may or may not have been the culprit for the 15 pounds I gained during my first Christmas break in college…
She made them for the holidays every year up until she wasn’t able to get around anymore. And the last time I tasted them was when I made them for the family last year after her funeral. They weren’t quite the same, but that’s what is so great about food. You can never truly lose someone you love if you continue to cook their food. That’s why I will never stop using Cool Whip or canned biscuits, slicing fresh strawberries over the kitchen sink, sprinkling cinnamon on my toast, eating green grapes, ice cold from the fridge, or scrambling my eggs directly in the skillet with a fork. I think of her every time I do those things so I will never stop.
Nama also made cheese straws for Christmas when I was little. (That’s a southern thing, ya’ll.) Some southern women put a piece of a date in the center of their cheese ‘cookie’, like my Other Mother does, and some ladies use pecans. My Nama used pecans. I wish I could go back and taste those Cheese Straws again because I know I would love them now. When I was little I couldn’t appreciate them. (It wasn’t a cookie, it wasn’t a cracker, it certainly wasn’t a straw, what is this thing?! Give me a cookie!) For a long time now I have been wanting to create a scone in honor of my grandmother and whenever I began brainstorming, those cheese straws and Nama’s nuts kept popping into my head.
Last Friday I put out a cheese tray for my husband when he got home from work. There was brie, strawberries, dates, this incredible double creme white cheddar, pickled garlic, Lucques olives, and these rosemary-brown sugar walnuts I make from time to time. We sipped a little wine and nibbled on the kitchen floor with the kids. After our nibbling was finished I had a good amount of my nuts and that delicious cheddar leftover…which brings me to my second inspiration for these scones.
So a couple days later I revisited my idea and came up with this recipe: Rosemary Cheddar Nut Scones. They are super yummy. You’ve got the salty-sweetness of the nuts and the creaminess of the cheddar, with hints of rosemary in every bite. If you are one of those Buttered Pecan Ice cream lovers then this is the scone for you. It’s both salty and sweet and simply scrumptious. My mother sent me a text at 10 pm two nights ago raving about how good they were so if that doesn’t prove anything, I don’t know what does. (those of you who are fortunate enough to know my mother well know she does not just give away compliments!) These may seem a bit more time consuming than my other scone recipes because you’re ‘roasting’ the nuts beforehand, but just do what I did (unintentionally) and make extra for some wine and cheese!
Nama would have loved these!
ROSEMARY CHEDDAR NUT SCONES
For the Nuts:
In a medium saucepan place the following…
-1 cup chopped walnuts (or pecans!)
-3/4 tsp kosher salt
-1 TB light brown sugar
-1 tsp dried rosemary
-good drizzle of extra virgin olive oil to coat
Turn the heat to medium high and cook for 2-3 minutes, tossing throughout. The brown sugar tends to clump, so look out for that and smush it with your spatula to get it to make nice with the nuts. Cool completely.
For the Dough:
In your food processor combine the following…
-3 cups AP flour (white or whole wheat PASTRY flour are both fine)
-3/4 cups light brown sugar
-1 TB baking powder
-1/2 tsp kosher salt
Pulse to combine and then add in…
-1 1/2 sticks very cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
Pulse until the butter has broken down into smaller than pea-sized pieces.
With the mixer turned on, slowly drizzle through the spout of the mixer…
-about 1/2 cup of either very cold half&half, cream, or evaporated whole milk
Drizzle very slowly and stop when you see the dough begin to come together, not once it balls up. It will be too wet if it gets to the ball stage, so try to only add enough so that when you squeeze it together with your fingers it clumps with the warmth of your hands.
Turn the dough onto a clean surface (I didn’t need any bench flour, but if you got yours too wet you may need some…it shouldn’t be sticky at all) and before you begin to form it, add your 1 cup of prepared nuts and 1 cup of shredded extra sharp white cheddar cheese. Incorporate your mix-ins with your hands well, but be careful not to over-mix.
Once the nuts and cheese have been evenly distributed, shape the dough into a fat disk and cut into 8 triangles, as if you were slicing a pie.
-Place each triangle onto an UN-greased cookie sheet and place on the TOP rack of your preheated 375 degree oven.
-Bake for 17-22 min, or until the tops have turned golden brown but still appear to be soft. They will firm as they cool.
-Allow to cool on the pan until you can easily grab one, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.
-Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 days, in the fridge for 5-7 days, or in the freezer for 3 months. These are better the quicker you eat them so if you can’t get through them quickly, consider freezing! Just wrap each one in plastic and store in a large zip freezer bag. When you want one, unwrap it and zap it in the microwave for about 20 seconds.
I always try to have some in my freezer, because these babies are just that special.
(And see me use the same Rosemary Candied Walnuts in a Raw Balsamic Kale Salad by clicking HERE!)