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THE THICKENED AND EMBRACIVE RICOTTA-MASCARPONE MOISTENS THE CRUMBS LIKE A SCONE CARRYING ITS OWN CLOTTED-CREAM
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Sometimes, we wait for the perfect recipe-publishing moment to present itself. Iced dairies to fend off the heat in August… festivities to baste in the spirit of October… chocolates to sweeten the tones of February, and austerities to bring in those bikini-lines in May. Recipes, like romance, like good stories. I get it. But sometimes, most times actually, the birth of a certain recipe comes as forcefully and inevitably as the bad news it carries. Sometimes, we just have to make something, quite simply, because it’s Monday.
I hate Mondays. And please note, that coming from someone who is technically unemployed, that is saying a lot. Because Monday feels like standing at the bottom of an endless stairwell, and a monkey is holding a $20-bill at the top. Monday feels like watching the prelude of a documentary on counting alphabets in a foreign language without subtitles. Monday feels like powering through the infuriating hunger on the last day of a juice-cleanse, but only that it is still the first day. Monday feels like a brand new sandbag. Monday makes my coffee tired. So even though I’ve came up with this buttery scone stuffed with honey-whipped ricotta a while back, and have been waiting for the perfect timing to tell you all about it, it dawned on me that today, which is a Monday, is actually when your joy-deprived souls will need it the most.
This time-tested, my go-to scone-dough (or biscuit dough, whatever, who knows the difference really) is crispy and flakey on the surface, but its moist and crumbly interior houses a good dollop of creamy, slightly salty, zesty whole milk ricotta whipped with mascarpone and floral honey. Eaten hot out of the oven, the oozy filling bursts enthusiastically to lift your most stagnant Monday-blues. Eaten cooled with rewarded patience, and the thickened and embracive ricotta-mascarpone will moisten the crumbs like a scone carrying its own clotted cream. I don’t know about you, but my Monday is nearing its end, and I haven’t yet raised the first thought to smash my computer on the pale wall. And I say no human should go another Monday without it.
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GENERALLY speaking, food makes people happy.
I’d like to think that I make happy foods. I’d like to think that to the people wondering to this place, who are just one kale salad-away from opening a suicide.word, a fast responding blueberry oatmeal cookie, in some ways, is a contribution to humanity. I’d like to think that to you out there who voluntarily devotes to a gluten-less life, though beyond my shallow comprehension, must have had your profound and keen purposes… the unintentionally gluten-free mochi donut is my gentle way of saying, I don’t get it but hey let me get you a donut. Then of course, when all else fails, the sky is falling and all balls are tucked, a full frontal of a pornographic burger wouldn’t be the worst thing to remember last, before quitting it, whatever it is, all together.
But this theory has been testing quite unsoundly in my personal life-lab in the past week (previously on…), mostly due to my neurotic anxiety who has a very inappropriate humor of its own which has proven to be funnier than eating.
Just to be clear, this is not where I brag about thing, but I’ve been cruising effortlessly through the most successful and effective, week-long fasting program that normally only Beyonce can pull off, and finding it a little… bittersweet. This would have otherwise been a great news, a long-planned and awaited reunion with my dormant human-shapes, unfortunately just not in the optimal scenario as I envisioned it. Don’t get me wrong, waistline, you look fabulous but fuck I look like shit.
MY ANXIETY… HAS A VERY INAPPROPRIATE HUMOR OF ITS OWN
So in a desperate effort to restore such theory, I’ve embarked on a mission to make the happiest food alive. Given that this is high pie-season, what’s better than something that, even just by the sound of its name, incandescently cheerful – the all American apple pie. Hey, I figured if it’s happy enough to have sex with, it’d be sufficient for my condition.
But having said that, I have to be acutely aware of the danger of what a pie-making disaster can do to a fragile state of mind. These crusty, happy-sounding fellas can be, more often than not, little mean soggy bi-polar bastards. Best not to go there for the sake of my livelihood. Instead, I’m going to impose the happy ideal of an apple pie onto these much faster, easier, and above all else, less disaster-friendly folks. I’ve decided to turn it into biscuits.
So there I found myself in a gloomy, bleakly spirited afternoon, clinging over the edge of the kitchen-counter gulping down dose after dose of buttery crumbed biscuits that are sweetened with salted caramel and twinkle-lighted with soft, candied apples and warm cinnamon, allspice and nutmegs. Then it occurred to me that, no, I needed something even more potent. So I brushed them with melted butter and tumbled in nutmeg sugar. At this point they were already reaching heavenly goodness but I was a holier mess, and I kept thinking that it just… just needed a litttttle something more… What is it? God damn it I had it at the tip of my tongue…
Then OH RIGHT! Of course. Silly me.
Makes: 7 small biscuits
To make the caramel apple/wet ingredient: In a sauce pot, bring 1/2 cup of granulated sugar and 1/4 cup of apple juice to a boil over medium heat. Swirl occasionally and continue to cook until the liquid has evaporated and the sugar becomes a rich, dark amber color. This will take a few minutes. Then add the small-diced apples and continue to cook over medium heat. The caramel will harden in contact of the cold apples, so stir with a spoon until all the caramel is melted again. Cook until the liquid/juice from the apple has mostly evaporated, and the sauce slightly thickens again, approx 7 ~ 10 min. You should have what looks like about 1/4 cup of liquid in the pot, and the apples should be almost translucent, like candied.
Stir in the sea salt, ground cinnamon, ground allspice, and freshly grated nutmeg. Then add another 1/4 cup of apple juice and heavy cream. Mix evenly then chill for at least 1 hour in the fridge, or 30 min in the freezer until cold.
To make the biscuit: Preheat the oven on 425ºF/220ºC.
Whisk all-purpose flour, baking powder and baking soda in a large bowl (or you can do it in the food-processor). Add the diced and cold unsalted butter, then with a pastry-cutter, cut the butter into the flour until the largest bit is about the size of a small pea (or pulse the food-processor until this happens, then transfer the mixture to a large bowl). Add the chilled caramel apple/wet ingredient, then with a spatula, fold the mixture together until a wet dough forms. The dough should be wet and sticky. If it’s too dry with loose crumbs and flour not coming together, add another tbsp of heavy cream.
Transfer to a floured surface and pat into 1″ (2.5 cm) thickness. If the dough feels warm or even room-temperature (due to the wet ingredient not being chilled enough), wrap in plastic and flash-freeze for 30 min before proceeding. Cut the biscuits out with a small cutter, then transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps and cut again. You should have about 6 ~ 8 biscuits. Brush the top with heavy cream then baking in the oven until golden browned and puffed, approx 15 min.
Allow to cool for 20 ~ 30 min on a cooling rack. Brush the tops with melted butter then gently press against the nutmeg-sugar until it sticks. If you want to slice it open for ice-cream sandwich, use a serrated knife because these are quite delicate.