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Recession Refreshment: Montepulciano

Cranberry Walnut Scones

Cranberry_walnut_scones_2 I hate to admit it, but the holidays have worn me out.  Don't get me wrong, I love the holidays...the merriment, the decorations, the endless parties (with the obligatory mounds of food and fishbowl sized drinks).  But by January, you're tired of all that cheer and the regret of eating your weight in fudge starts to settle in (lets not even mention the debt we all go into showing our love through sale items and Amazon.com deals).  And...well, I'm kind of cooked out.  There, I said it.  I know I should feel ashamed but I'm not.  I baked more cookies and cooked more things in the last few months than I probably have since...well last Christmas season.  And at some point, you just have to say "enough".  I was almost to that point until I remembered the fresh cranberries in my refrigerator.

Cranberries Believe it or not, you can still get fresh cranberries for the next few weeks (depending on the region you live in, you may already be out of luck).  Although a little hard to find, I did get fresh cranberries from the Adams Morgan Farmers' Market.  And if you happen to STILL have cranberries leftover from the holidays (like I do), you're probably running out of ideas for them.  Fear not, because I have a non-savory solution for your cranberry woes.  Sure cranberries are the main supporting side dish to the stuffing and turkey at our holiday meals.  But the lovely thing about them is their versatility in the cooking world. 

The cranberries are the fruit of a low shrubbery that grow in bogs and bog like climes.  The fruit is tart in nature (as we all know) but are mostly sold in the US in a sweetened version.  Like most fruits and vegetables, fresh cranberries have a much richer flavor than their canned or dried counterparts.  When searching for cranberry scone recipes, I noticed most of them called for dried cranberries, which seemed such a shame.  Throwing caution to the wind, I whipped up these very easy cranberry walnut scones using fresh cranberries.  If you decide to substitute fresh cranberries in a recipe (and I strongly encourage you to do so), be sure to adjust the sweetener in the recipe accordingly to balance the more tart flavors of a fresh cranberry.

Cranberries_and_dry_ingredients Cranberry Walnut Scones

3 cups all purpose, unbleached flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 sticks unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup fresh cranberries
1/2 cup walnuts

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon water or milk

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder and baking soda.  Add the sugar and salt to the flour mixture.  Using either a bench knife or your hands, cut the butter cubes into the flour mixture until a crumbly meal is formed.  Once all of the butter is incorporated into the flour, add the cranberries and walnuts.  Pour in the buttermilk and with a fork, stir it in until a dense dough is formed.  Again using your hands (I'm a fan of hands on baking, in case you haven't noticed), take a heaping ball of the dough and form it into a triangular shape.  Place the scone on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper and repeat the same steps until all the dough has been used.  Whisk together the egg and milk (or water) to make the egg wash.  Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each scone with the egg wash.  Bake the scones for 15-20 minutes or until they are golden brown. 

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