Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Bacon Asiago Shallot Scones

This post is partially motivated by the desire to demonstrate that I do bake things other than cupcakes. The whole cupcake thing requires variety and creativity on a regular basis to keep the masses happy. It's also kind of a happy accident, but that's another story for another day....

Bacon-related scones are a different matter altogether. You cannot argue with good bacon; it is one of a handful of things that keeps me from becoming a complete (rather than part-time) vegetarian. Here, I've used something local and delicious from Klein Farms in Easton. Bacon plus sharp-sweet Asiago cheese plus shallots cooked in the bacon grease, of course! Why waste? And then toss it together in a buttery dough, chill it overnight (or freeze if you're impatient, for 1/2 hour or so), and then your house smells like bacony, cheesy heaven.

This is a riff on my usual scone recipe, which I've published elsewhere (strawberry scones! oh, early summer bliss!), with some additions. You can of course cook the bacon in a pan, but I like the hands-off nature of putting it in the oven so I can go about my business, prepping the rest of the ingredients. The trick with scones is to handle them as little as possible; you want them to be tender and flaky, not hard and unyielding like a hockey puck.

Bacon-Asiago-Shallot Scones

  • 4-5 thick slices of good bacon
  • 1 large or two small shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 cup shredded Asiago cheese
  • 2 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tbsp. plus 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • A couple of turns of the pepper mill (not terribly specific, I know)
  • 12 Tbsp. frozen butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature

The Bacon-Shallot Part
  1. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Place the bacon on aluminum foil on a lidded sheet pan. Please do not use a cookie sheet unless you want bacon grease all over the joint.
  3. Cook the bacon until it's starting to give off little tiny white bubbles, about 15-18 minutes. Transfer to a plate and place a couple of paper towels on top to blot up the excess grease.
  4. Pour the bacon grease from the bottom of the sheet pan into a cast iron or other pan of your choice and saute the chopped shallots until they soften and begin to caramelize. 
  5. Once the bacon has cooled, chop it into small pieces or use kitchen shears to cut into smaller-than-bite-size pieces. Set aside. 
  6. Shred the cheese. Did I have to tell you to do this? 
I love using kitchen shears for food tasks. Thanks for the tip, Nigella Lawson.
 The Dough Part
  1. Place the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a food processor and pulse a couple of times to combine.
  2. Add the frozen butter chunks and let it rip until you just barely hear a nob of butter rattling around.
  3. Transfer contents to a bowl and add the cheese, shallots and bacon. Add in the freshly ground pepper. Mix to combine with a spatula.
  4. After you've measured out the milk, crack the egg into the measuring cup and whisk to break up the yolk. Add milk-and-egg combo to the dough. Mix until it's just combined.
  5. You will notice this is a soft, mushy dough. Roll or pat it gently and use a 3-inch biscuit cutter to form the scones. 
  6. You should get about 12-14 scones, which you should place on two separate baking sheets.
  7. Cover the baking sheets with saran wrap, and then place a thin clean dish towel to seal up any cracks. Transfer to the refrigerator for a few hours or up to overnight.
Here's the point in the recipe ***************  where time elapses ********* and we have to wait******for the dough to be ready*******

Good night, little guys!
Bacon scones, ready to go to sleep for a bit and firm up.

Good morning! Are you ready for scones?

The Baking Part
  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Remove scones from fridge and brush them with whole milk.
  3. Bake for 16-18 minutes until lightly golden on top. 
  4. Remove from the oven, let them cool for a few minutes on the sheet, and then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Please, resist the urge. You will burn your mouth. 
These babies won't keep for too too long in a tightly covered plastic container, but I don't think you will have trouble gobbling them up. Alternately, you can freeze them if you like. Another option: if you want them smaller, you can certainly use any sized biscuit cutter; just reduce your baking time accordingly, if you're opting for that. Of course, you can also mix in anything else you want, swap out the cheese, opt for sausage or ham, and do herbs--the sky has no savory limit. I also do an Irish cheddar and chive variation, too.
This one was broken off for a toddler who did not finish it.

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