Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Sweet Potato Pecan Scones with a Maple Glaze

I understand that we are still technically in Summer, and that most people shy away from baking in the summer time; but it's also back to school time. And back to school time means that it's almost Autumn (or Fall if you prefer) and I'm getting really excited to be able to bake to my hearts content again, without the backlash of a sweltering kitchen.
   Yesterday we had a freak flash-flood storm and it made the house a little dark and gloomy. I could hear the rain pitter-pattering on my roof and see the fog rolling in down in the valley below and it made me want to bake scones. (If you don't already know this about me, you should check out my posts on Blueberry Chocolate Chip Scones with an Almond Drizzle, Maple Oat Scones with a Maple Glaze, and Strawberry Scones with Vanilla Glaze. You'll see the pattern.) I refrained from scone baking - as I was already in the throngs of making enchiladas for dinner, but I remembered that I have this scone recipe that I haven't shared with you yet.
   I made these Sweet Potato Pecan Scones a couple weeks ago. It was the first week of school. My wonderful husband was just called away on a 16  day fire assignment (fingers crossed he won't be extended and he'll be home in a couple days!!!!) and I was on a mission to use up some items in my pantry. Every time I open my cupboard, I have these two cans of sweet potatoes staring at me. They have been staring at me for almost a year and I just haven't found a use for them yet. I bought them at the behest of my husband who loves sweet potatoes, but for me I prefer the fresh 100 times over the canned. (My new favorite way to use fresh sweet potatoes is my Twice Baked Sweet Potatoes.)
   So, this can was staring at me. And while the expiration date is still quite a ways off, I was determined to use them now and be done with it. I thought about casseroles, soups, and pies but I wanted to do something new. I had heard of making sweet potato biscuits before, but never tried it myself. While having all these thoughts in my head I decided to invent something new (at least I had never come across a recipe for it). These Sweet Potato Pecan Scones with a Maple Glaze are like a cross between what I imagine a sweet potato biscuit would be and a sweet potato pie. Definitely delicious. To the point that I would even go out and buy more canned sweet potatoes, just for this recipe. :)

I started with my basic scone recipe: 3 cups of flour (always all purpose), 2/3 cup sugar, 1/4 tsp salt, and 5 tsp baking powder go into a large mixing bowl. Then I cube up 1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter (I like salted but use whatever floats your boat).

I whisk the dry ingredients together and then mix in the butter cubes. I pinch the butter and flour together until the butter pieces are no bigger than large peas. Then I started to change the recipe. At this point, if you wanted to add cinnamon and nutmeg (to make it taste more like sweet potato pie) go right ahead. For today, I kept things spice free. I added in 1 cup of the canned sweet potatoes (that I mashed).

I stirred the sweet potatoes in with a fork and then added 1/2 cup milk (I usually use nonfat, because that is what I drink, but I've also used 2%, whole, half and half, and also just cream with great results. Just use what you have on hand.)

When the milk is mostly mixed in, I gently fold in some toasted and chopped pecans. (About 1 cup)

I dump the mixture out onto a floured work surface and fold it over onto itself a few times, until it's a solid mass. (The fold will help give it layers after it bakes.) Then I press it out with my hands to a rough rectangle, about 3/4 inch thick. (You could also roll it out with a rolling pin, but my hands are already dirty I just use those instead of making more dishes for me to wash.) You should be able to see pieces of butter still in the dough. These will help make your scones layered and tender.

Use a pizza cutter (or knife) to cut the scones into shapes. I usually make 24 triangles.

Then put the scones about 1 inch apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. (My Angel Girl was helping me. She's a wonderful helper in the kitchen!)

When all the scones are placed out for baking, brush each one with milk (or cream, or egg wash, it doesn't matter) and sprinkle each one with a little dark brown sugar. No measuring here, just do what looks right. I guess it's about 1/3 to 1/2 cup total. These are mine:

Place them in the fridge to firm up for about 30 minutes. Heat your oven to 350F and bake for 15-20 minutes. They should be golden and crisp around the edges, puffy and soft in the center. (I was dealing with my little angles, so mine sat in the oven for 1 minute longer than they should have - hence the slightly darkened edges. They still tasted amazing, though; so no harm done.)

Now it's time to make the Maple Glaze/Drizzle. It literally is only enough to drizzle over each scone, so if you want to completely cover one (or both) sides of the scone with the glaze (like doughnuts) you should double this recipe.
1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1 Tbsp of Pure Maple Syrup go into a bowl. If it's too thick you can add 1/2 tsp of milk.

Mix it with a whisk or fork until smooth.That's it! Easy Peasy!

Place the scones on a cooling rack (with something underneath the catch the drips) and drizzle away.

I gave some away to my dear friend Kathy, for her and her family, but I still managed to eat most of them myself. My older kids really enjoyed them as an after-school snack. The only one that missed out was my amazing husband. Perhaps I'll make them again when he's home for his R&R. Try them for yourself and let me know what you think!
I topped a few with chopped pecans on top, but the nuts just fell off. There's not much glaze to hold them on, so I left the nuts off the rest and they were just as good without - but less messy. :)

A nice variation would be to use brown sugar inside the scone (as well as on top) and add in some cinnamon and nutmeg. Something to tuck away for another day. :)
Here's the recipe:

Sweet Potato Pecan Scones with a Maple Glaze

3 cups of flour (always all purpose)
2/3 cup sugar 
1/4 tsp salt
5 tsp baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) cold butter, cubed
1 cup cooked, cooled and mashed sweet potato (I used canned)
1/2 cup milk (or cream) (plus more for brushing on top)
1 cup toasted, chopped pecans

about 1/2 cup dark brown sugar (for sprinkling on top)

 In a mixing bowl, whisk together: flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Cut butter into the flour mixture using a pastry cutter, until the butter is the size of large peas. Add the mashed sweet potato, and milk. Combine with a fork lightly and add in the pecans. Mix just until it comes together. Dump out onto a floured work surface. Knead (fold over on itself) a few times until it's a solid mass and then flatten it out to about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thickness. Cut in any shapes you wish. (I cut mine into 24 triangles.) Place on lined cookie/baking sheets. Brush each scone with melted butter, cream or an egg wash and sprinkle with brown sugar. Chill in the fridge for 30 minutes. Bake @ 350F for about 15- 20 minutes (this will depend on how big your scones are). They should be golden brown around the edges and firm to the touch, but fluffy inside.
Cool on cookie sheets and then transfer to a cooling rack. Drizzle with glaze.

Maple Glaze/ Drizzle

1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 Tbsp Pure Maple Syrup

1/2 tsp milk (if needed - add until it's thin enough to drizzle)

Whisk until smooth and drizzle over cooled scones.

*This is just enough to literally "drizzle" over the scones. If you want your scones more thoroughly glazed, double the recipe.

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