Monday, April 27, 2009

Celebrating Spring: Cherry Cream Scones

As April draws to a close spring comes into its own. Trees flower overnight and the landscape is dotted with pointillist bursts of color. Life isn’t content to simply stir; it emerges everywhere and proclaims its fertility. This is a time to observe change and allow the muse to roam freely.

There is a row of cherry trees in Hastings-on-Hudson that locals know well. It is situated on the corner of Broadway and Villard, and is within walking distance of the Old Croton Aqueduct. The blossoming trees speak to the curiosity of children, who can reach bloom-laden branches and sit in clefts formed between sturdy branches and trunks. When you hear their peals of laughter you know that the cherry blossoms are at their peak and it won't be long before a carpet of pink confetti adorns the grass lawn.

In honor of spring (and the peak flowering of cherry blossoms in the Northeast) Glass Petal Smoke offers an indulgent recipe for Cherry Cream Scones. They can be eaten plain or served warm with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.

Cherry Cream Scones
Recipe by Michelle Krell Kydd
Yield: 10

Ingredients:
· 2 cups all-purpose flour
· ⅓ cup granulated sugar
· 2 teaspoons baking powder
· ⅛ teaspoon salt
· ⅓ cup chilled, unsalted butter
· 1 large egg (beaten)
· 2 teaspoons Penzys double vanilla (or 4 teaspoons regular vanilla)
· ½ cup heavy whipping cream
· 3 ounces dried Montmorency cherries (sold at Trader Joe's)

For the Topping:
¼ teaspoon China cassia cinnamon, well mixed with ½ cup turbinado sugar

Equipment:
· parchment paper
· two cookie trays
· measuring cups
· measuring spoons
· large mixing bowl
· small mixing bowl
· flour sifter
· silicone spatula for mixing
· cutting board
· chef’s knife

Instructions:
· Preheat oven to 375 degrees, dividing racks into thirds.
· In a large bowl, combine sifted flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.
· Put butter on a cutting board and cut lengthwise, forming halves. Half the halves and cut into quarters. The bits of butter should look like square buds.
· Add butter to dry ingredients, coating well. Pinch each bud into flat petals and incorporate butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
· In a small bowl, beat egg and vanilla. Incorporate cream (do not beat cream, gently mix). Add dried cherries.
· Gently mix dry ingredients with wet ones by hand.
· Form 10 mini scones by hand and place on parchment lined cookie sheets. Sprinkle each scone with cinnamon sugar.

Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes, moving trays form top to bottom and reversing when half done, to ensure even baking. Serve scones warm or set on cooling racks and refrigerate/freeze for future use.

Notes:

Hastings-on-Hudson is located in New York's Westchester County. To learn more about its colorful history visit The Hastings Historical Society website.

The Old Croton Aqueduct is enjoyed by runners, hikers and bikers alike. It is a paradise for fragrance lovers in springtime. Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers. You may purchase a map of the trail for $5.75 or receive one with a paid membership of $20 (tax-deductible). The Old Croton Aqueduct is accessible by car or by train (Metro North Hudson line). Complete details are available on the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct website.

Photo of cherry trees on Broadway and Villard by Michelle Krell Kydd.