Hazelnut Scones Three Ways

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

Hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips

I threw this together because I wanted something a bit different for Thanksgiving morning, but with the variations they’re the perfect yummy scone for any time.  I usually make cranberry scones for Thanksgiving morning, but I had some hazelnuts on hand so decided to use them to make up a new recipe. It took two tries to get it just right. After that I went on to make this recipe without the cranberries, then — because it’s such a natural combination — I made a batch using chocolate which debuted at my Hair of the Dog Brunch this year. So here it is: plain hazelnut scones, hazelnut scones with dried cranberries, and hazelnut scones with mini-chocolate chips. Easy and delicious. 😀

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

Plain hazelnut scones, hot from the oven.

1 1/4 cups of ground hazelnuts
1 1/4 cups flour
1Tbls baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3 Tbls sugar
8 Tbls Smart Balance Original margarine
1/4 cup dried sweetened cranberries (optional) OR 1/4 cup mini-chocolate chips (optional)
1/2 cup milk (Silk Organic Unsweetened Soy Milk may be substituted)

Preheat oven 425.

If you don’t have access to hazelnut meal (which I’ve rarely seen), do like I do and grind hazelnuts into a meal in either a coffee grinder or food processor. The meal will be soft and fluffy so it needs to be pressed down in the measuring cup to get an accurate measure. It only takes seconds to make the small amount of meal needed for the recipe, so this extra step in scone making does not add an appreciable amount of time or effort to the preparation.

Mix dry ingredients, cut in margarine with a fork, pastry blender, or your fingers. (Then toss in dried sweetened cranberries or mini-chocolate chips if desired.) Add milk. Stir until it forms a sticky dough. Form into a dozen balls, about 2 inches in diameter, I’d guess.

Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 425 for 15 minutes. (Your oven may vary. Scones should be slightly browned on top and done all the way through.)

While the scones are in the oven make a pot of tea or coffee. Relax. Enjoy. 🙂

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Every Day Muffins

Ah, hot muffins!

Ah, hot muffins!

This is my “go to” recipe for muffins. It’s fast, it’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s versatile, and best of all you can have a hot muffin any time you want one. 😀 The recipe is ideal for both small families and large families because you can make just the number of muffins you want and they’re ready in about 20 minutes because this is a huge make-ahead recipe…I don’t even know how many the batter will make because I lose count over time. The recipe is a variation on Six Week Raisin Bran Muffins. It gets its name the fact that the batter will keep (allegedly) up to six weeks in the refrigerator. I don’t think I’ve quite made it to six weeks and once you taste these muffins you know why! 😉

The link above will give you a recipe similar to mine. It has more fat than my version. (The recipe I got from a friend twenty years ago called for shortening instead of vegetable oil and I use less oil than the recipe above.) I’ve also made a number of other changes to the recipe…notably I use 16 oz Post Great Grains Raisin, Date and Pecan cereal, (I have on occasion added some extra dates), and I use 2% milk instead of buttermilk. I only use 3/4 cups oil (the recipe above uses more). I have also cut the amount of sugar to 2 1/2cups sugar (and you might be able to cut that down a bit more). Below the slideshow of images you’ll find my version of this wonderful muffin!

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1 (16 oz) box Post Great Grains Raisin, Date and Pecan cereal
1 qt 2% milk
3/4 cups of vegetable oil
2 1/2 cups sugar
4 eggs
5 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 cups flour

Mix the ingredients in a large non-metal bowl. (Hint: use your biggest bowl because this makes a lot. I’ve only got two non-metal bowls that can hold this much and it’s up to the brim and impossible to stir in one of them!) Mix the cereal, milk and oil first. I sometimes let it sit for 10 minutes before giving it a good stirring and adding the other ingredients. I think it helps the bran to get a bit softened and mushy if you’re going to make muffins right away. The batter is best when chilled at least a day after being mixed, but you can use it right away. The consistency of the muffins will be a bit different, however. I add the baking soda and salt next, then the sugar and eggs, beating them in by hand with a wooden spoon. No matter what order you mix ingredients — I mention this because some versions specify that they should be mixed in the order listed above — the flour should always be added last. I stir in a couple of cups of flour, then another cup or two until I’ve stirred in the whole five cups. The batter shouldn’t look homogenous; it will look lumpy not just from the fruit and nuts, but from the flour. Get all the flour wet, but don’t over mix (another reason to stir this by hand).

Keep covered and refrigerated. Use as needed. To bake you can use greased and floured muffin tins, paper liners, or silicon liners in a muffin tin. Preheat oven 400º and bake about 20 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. The batter (allegedly) keeps up to 6 weeks. The batter may become thinner over time. This is nothing to worry about. You can add a little more flour if you like. If not using it for a while, it helps to stir the batter periodically.

If using paper liners, let the muffins cool a bit or they will tear up when you peel them. Likewise they will be difficult to separate from the paper liners if left to get stone cold. You can usually pop them out of silicon liners right away. 🙂

Variations: This recipe lends itself to myriad variations based on the type of cereal used. The original recipe called for raisin bran, but there are a number of bran cereals with fruit and nuts which can be used instead. I don’t measure the number of cups of cereal, but try to get a box of a similar size to what I usually use if I’m trying a different kind of cereal. You can also add additional dried fruit and nuts to the recipe, such as more raisins, dates, pecans, walnuts, etc. You can also add spices such as cinnamon or nutmeg. I sometimes sprinkle a little bit of nutmeg on top of the muffins before baking. If you experiment with adding spices when you mix up the batter, I would advise going easy on the spices because if you add too much or the spice blend doesn’t work you’ve got a lot of muffins to eat before you can make a better batch! 😉

The recipe is great for a snack with a mug of hot tea, or breakfast, or brunch with friends. You can have a hot homemade muffin (or two!) any day, every day, any time. 🙂