Chocolate Scones

chocolate scones

All confusion about the raw sugars (demerara, turbinado, muscovado, and sucanat) is resolved here, with the following detailed information and outstanding receipt.

In the mid-1990’s, I got this chocolate scone recipe from Cindy Mushet’s highly appraised Baking with the American Harvest.  I have adapted it by grinding my own flour, which is totally optional, as well as by adding some time-saving tips.  1

Ms. Mushet calls for sprinkling crystallized sugar, on top of the unbaked scones, after washing them with egg; I use demerara here.  This is a form of large granule sugar that gets its name from the location in Guyana, on the northern mainland of South America, where it originated centuries ago.  Today rather than Guyana, this form of cane sugar comes from a number of countries, such as Mexico and India; in the States it is produced in both Hawaii and Florida.

Demerara can be compared to turbinado, muscovado, and sucanat; these are all types of cane sugar, which are classified as raw, even though they do indeed require some processing.  Of these, the first three were originally known as “factory” brown sugars; all are produced during the initial processing of cane juice into unrefined sugar.  2

Most sugar cane grew in colonies or developing countries.  Sugar refining required expensive machinery to be produced; thus, its production came to be divided into two stages.  The initial stage of the crystallization of raw, unrefined sugar took place in factories near the plantations in these poor countries.  Industrial nations-the consumers-performed the expensive final stage, of refining this raw sugar product into white sugar.  3

The making of raw sugar requires two basic kinds of work: crushing the cane to collect the juice, then boiling off the juice’s water.  Originally the crushing called for hard physical labor, which in the Caribbean was accomplished by slaves, and the boiling called for large amounts of heat; thus, deforestation occurred there.  4

Three 19th century innovations helped make the production of raw sugar a more affordable luxury.  First, the application of steam power made this initial crushing process easier.  The next step, heating, was aided by the vacuum pan, which boils the syrup at a reduced pressure and therefore at a lower, gentler temperature.  Also, the multiple evaporator was added, which recycles the heat of one evaporation stage to heat the next.  5

From the Middle Ages until now, there was a clearing of many organic impurities; in the pre-industrial age, this was accomplished, at the beginning of the boiling stage, with the introduction of lime and a substance, such as egg white or animal blood.  These substances would coagulate and trap the coarse impurities.  Today, heat and lime only are generally used to coagulate and remove proteins and other impurities.  6

Then and now, with these boiling and clarification processes, dark brown syrup has resulted, to which seed crystals have then been introduced to bring about crystallization.  The final step, in making these factory sugars, has been the drawing off the molasses from the crystals, which originally occurred slowly-merely by the force of gravity.  For some time, refiners have used centrifuging-much like spinning lettuce-to quickly do this final step, producing raw sugar and the by-product of the first molasses.  7

Beginning in the 19th century until recently, this raw sugar has next been refined in refineries in industrial countries, where white sugar has been consumed.  Now it is produced in such developing countries as Mexico and India.

Today, the making of refined sugar starts with refined syrup being introduced, to wash the raw sugar.  Next, hot water dissolves it; then, a carbon absorbent clarifies and decolorizes it.  Evaporation and crystallization follow, with centrifuging being the final stage, producing white sugar, with the bi-product of cane syrups.  This last crystallization process is carefully controlled, giving individual sugar crystals a uniform size, with an astonishingly pure content of 99.85% sucrose-our white sugar.  8

As opposed to white sugar, “brown sugars” are sucrose crystals coated with a layer of dark syrup, from one stage or the other of sugar refining.  This provides them with a more complex flavor than white sugar.

There are several types of brown sugar.  The first type is factory brown sugars-produced during the initial processing of the cane juice into unrefined raw sugar, as defined above; the second is refinery brown sugars, or sugars produced at the refinery using this raw sugar as the starting material, not cane juice.  There are also what might be referred to as whole sugars, crystalline sugar still enveloped in the cooked cane juice from which it is formed (such as Indian jaggery or gur and Latin American piloncillo, papelon, or panela).

Factory brown sugars originally got their name, because of their production in factories near the plantations in cane-producing, tropical countries.  The first, demerara, then and now, has been a partially refined, large, somewhat sticky, yellow-gold grain, produced from the first crystallization stage of light cane juice into raw sugar.  It has a delicate, caramel-like, toffee flavor that augments certain baked goods (it is especially good for sprinkling on top of them).  9

The second, turbinado, has been raw sugar partly washed of its molasses coat during the centrifugation, resulting in large golden crystals that are not as sticky as those of demerara.  Though more refined than demerara, turbinado is less refined than what we now call brown sugar (refinery brown sugar), which is generally white sugar with molasses added back into it.  10

The artisanal muscovado, appearing to be very dark form of our refinery brown sugar, actually has been the product of the final crystallization from the dark mother liquor, or first molasses, in the making of raw sugar.  It was and is an unrefined cane sugar in which all the molasses is not removed, like it is with what we call our regular brown sugar.  11

This muscovado sugar, however, is more refined than demerara and turbinado, with a small-grained, wet, sticky texture that has a sweet impression at first that dissolves into a rich, floral, bittersweet note, leaving a slightly smoky aftertaste. Most of the muscavodo sugars, of which there is both light and dark, come from Mauritius, a republic made up of islands off the southeast coast of Africa.  12

On the other hand, sucanat, which stands for “sugar cane natural”, is the most unrefined of the raw cane sugars; it is merely evaporated cane juice, which has been handpaddled; this cools and dries the dark syrup, which is obtained by heating the extracted cane juice in a large vat.  It is a much finer grain than the demerara and turbinado crystals, and it is the healthiest of all the cane sugars, with an intense, dark, rich flavor, which is ideal in spicy baked goods.  13

With their minimal processing, all these raw sugars retain some minerals and vitamins, making them somewhat healthier than refined white sugar.  They, however, contain large amounts of sucrose, which is a composite molecule made up of one molecule each of glucose and fructose; thus, they should be eaten cautiously, as they may contribute to the development of type 2 diabetes, among other health issues.  14

How we treasure comfort foods, of which these scones are one of the best.  Our words, much like food, can comfort.  We are instructed to comfort those with the comfort which we have received; these opportunities delight our souls.

We are only equipped to do such, as we learn our lessons in life’s trials.  Slowing down in the midst of these storms allows for this equipping to best be established.

Webster’s describes establish, as to order, ordain, enact (a law, etc.) permanently.  Reading recipes isn’t required once our “muscles” have kinetically learned all the required movements, through multiple times of preparation.

Much like baking, establishing life’s lessons-and the laws they represent-is a process; we are perfected (matured) through practice, as we repeatedly go over the given steps, until the means for victory is indeed fixed in us.  By necessity, such progression requires patience, just like following a receipt, but once achieved we can share words of comfort with those in need around us.

I recently made a batch of these scones, with the following recipe, which I completed with clotted cream (I purchased a jar of imported Somerdale Devon Double Cream, from World Market).  Being unaware, my plans to take them to my regular prayer meeting, however, were thwarted, for it was the fourth of July, and prayer had been cancelled.  Quickly I decided to bless various neighbors with this treat, which brought great joy (and comfort) to all.  I also highly recommend my receipt for cocoa bread (see Cocoa Bread) to please your soul.

 

References:

  1. Cindy Mushet, Baking with the American Harvest, 5 volumes (Santa Monica, CA: Cindy Mushet, 1993-1996) Vol. 4, #1, p. 12.
  2. Harold McGee, On Food and Cooking (New York: Scribner, 1984, 2004), p. 674.
  3. Ibid., p. 673.
  4. Ibid., p. 671.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Ibid., pp. 670-672.
  7. Ibid.
  8. Ibid., pp. 671, 672.
  9. Ibid., pp. 672, 674.
  10. Ibid.
  11. Ibid.
  12. https://www.care2.com/greenliving/what-is-demerara-sugar.html
  13. http://shop.wholesomesweet.com/Organic-Sucanat/p/WHSM-305000&c=Wholesome@GranulatedSugar
  14. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/demerara-sugar

prepped scones

Chocolate Scones  Yields: 8 scones.  Adapted from Cindy Mushet’s Baking with the American Harvest, Vol. 4, # 1, Spring, 1996.  Total prep time: 1 hour (only if grinding flour fresh, an additional 3/4 hr resting time is needed)/  active prep time: 40 min/  baking time: 20 min.

Note: best served with clotted cream, though butter and jam are also good; an imported Somerdale Devon Double Cream is available at World Market.

1 2/3 c unbleached white flour  (Bob’s Red Mill organic unbleached flour is ideal, or may grind 1 1/3 c organic soft winter wheat berries; this makes 2 c whole wheat pastry flour, with which 1/3 c flour must be removed after grinding-set this aside for flouring board.)

1/3 c cane sugar or coconut sugar  (Coconut sugar is healthier, with a lower glycemic index-for details see Zucchini Bread, 2017/07/24.)

1/3 c unsweetened cocoa powder  (Trader Joe’s carries a brand of high quality, reasonably priced.)

2 tsp baking powder

1/8 tsp salt

1 stick (4 oz) cold unsalted butter

3/4 c heavy cream

To Finish

1 lg egg, lightly beaten

Demerara sugar, or crystallized sugar  (Demerara sugar is available inexpensively in bulk at our local Winco.)

  1. grinding fresh flour with Kitchen Aid attachment

    If grinding flour fresh, do so now; see photo.

  2.  Preheat oven to 425 F (if grinding your own flour, wait to preheat oven).  Line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
  3. In a sealed storage bag, shake together: flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
  4. cutting butter easily

    Easily cut cold butter into small pieces, by cutting stick in fourths length-wise; keeping cube in tact, rotate this stick and cut in fourths again; then, shave small pieces off end.  See photo below.

  5. Place butter in bowl with flour.  Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, blend until mixture is like a coarse corn meal, and flour is incorporated.  See photo below.
  6. Add cream and stir just until dough forms what Ms. Mushet calls “shaggy clumps”; flour will be barely incorporated.  See photo at bottom.
  7. mealy dough mixture

    Place this loosely formed mixture on a lightly floured board and knead several times, until dough is formed.  Do not over knead.  ONLY IF FRESHLY GROUND FLOUR IS BEING USED, place dough back in bowl, loosely cover with plastic wrap, and let sit for 45 minutes.   (Freshly ground flour is a coarser grind, which doesn’t absorb the moisture as readily as the store-bought white flour; thus, this resting time is required.)

  8. Pat out into a 7” round; cut into eighths.  Holding individual scones in hand, brush top and sides of each with egg wash and sprinkle top with crystallized sugar.  Place on parchment-covered pan (see photo at top of recipe).
  9. dough in “shaggy clumps”

    Bake for 16-18 minutes, or until edges are firm, but center is soft to the touch.  As you press on the edges, there will be a yielding, due to its high concentration of hot fat; scones, however, firm up as they cool.  Note: if using freshly ground flour, 18-20 minutes will be required for baking.

  10. Cool on wax paper at least 10 minutes before serving.  Ideally served with clotted cream, but butter and a good jam are also great.

Vichy Carrots

Vichy carrots

Learn the intriguing facts surrounding the benefits of distilled water, over all other waters, with this famous recipe for Vichy carrots; its history takes us to Vichy, France again (see last week’s entry on Vichysoisse).

This town, which was in collaboration with the Nazis during WWII, is highly regarded for its healing waters, rich in minerals and bi-carbonate, which are employed in this famous receipt.  Here, however, I make these carrots with health-promoting distilled water; to learn more about its powerful properties, read on.

Some say that up to four centuries ago, patrons of this spa town, were partaking in the then popular vegetable carrots, for they were considered part of the over-all cure.  Therefore this recipe evolved, incorporating the slightly carbonated Vichy waters, for it was held that the carbonation, as well as the carrots, helped with digestion; much like today, we remedy an upset stomach with soda crackers-saltines made with baking soda (bi-carbonate).  1

I discovered Vichy carrots in my copy of Joy of Cooking, printed in 1964; this cook book played a part in the beginning of my journey with food, which started in my junior year of college in the early 1970’s.  2

This recipe’s vitality is enhanced, by the optional incorporating of Monkfruit sweetener in place of sugar (for details see Date/Apricot Bars, 2019/06/12) and powerful ghee instead of butter (see Balsamic Eggs, 2019/05/07).  A pinch of baking soda is added to my choice of distilled water, to replace the Vichy mineral water.

Recently I got a H20 Lab water distiller, for I am convinced that distilled water is the answer to many health problems.  Dr. Allen E. Bank, in The Choice is Clear, illuminates how this one vital element can bring us vibrant health or rob us of it.  There are nine types of water: hard water, soft water, raw water, boiled water, rain water, snow water, filtered water, de-ionized water, and distilled water.  I am convinced that only distilled water is good for our bodies.  3

Bank describes how the possible cause of nearly all our aging diseases lies in inorganic minerals, which are in the air and ground; all water, except for distilled, contains these inorganic minerals (including Vichy water).  There are 106 different chemicals and minerals found in water; the process of purifying does not remove these, just distilling does.  4

Our bodies can only utilize organic minerals, which must come from plants, for plants convert the inorganic minerals carried to them by water, into their organic counterparts.  But through our water, we take in these inorganic minerals (such as calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, silicon), and we are not able to assimilate these nutrients efficiently-only through food can we receive these.  Thus, nature stores them in our joints as arthritis, our intestinal walls as constipation, our kidneys and livers as stones, and they harden the arteries of our hearts.  5

Distilled water not only prevents disease from coming to us, but it reverses the damage we have accumulated from the past; it literally heals us!  Water naturally attracts inorganic minerals: rain collects them from the air, well water is heavy in minerals found in the ground, and so on.  Water, however, does not attract the organic minerals we take in with our food.

The miracle of distilling is that it eliminates all minerals and chemicals, leaving pure water; in turn, when this enters our bodies, it now draws-picks up-mineral deposits accumulated in the arteries, joints, etc. and begins to carry them out.  Distilled water literally reverses the previous damage done to us; therefore, I am much convinced about the importance of distilled water for our over-all health.  6

Enjoy this extremely easy recipe, in which you may use distilled water, with a pinch of baking soda, to mimic Vichy water.

References:

  1. https://www.cooksinfo.com/vichy-carrots and https://urbnspice.com/my-recipes/urbnspice-series/inspiration-of-urbnspice-series/vichy-carrots/
  2. Irma S Rombauer & Marion Rombauer Becker, The Joy of Cooking (New York: A Signet Special, New American Library, 1931, 1936, 1941, 1942, 1946, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1962, 1963, 1964), p, 270.
  3. Dr. Allen E. Banks, The Choice is Clear (Austin, Texas: Acres USA, 1971, 1975, 1989), p. 12.
  4. Ibid., pp. 13, 31.
  5. Ibid., pp. 13, 14.
  6. Ibid., pp. 14, 15.

finished product

Vichy Carrots  Yields: 8 servings.  Prep time: 30 min (or 45 min if making optional ghee).  This is adapted from a recipe in my copy of Joy of Cooking, by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker, which was printed in 1964.

2 lb carrots, scraped, and thinly sliced diagonally  (Trader Joe’s has a 2 lb bag of organic, multi-colored carrots for $1.99.)

4 tbsp ghee, or butter  (For the simple ghee recipe see steps 1-5.)

2 tsp Monkfruit, cane sugar, or coconut sugar  (Lakanto  Monkfruit Sweetener is available at Costco.)

1 tsp salt, or to taste  (Himalayan, pink, or Real Salt is critical for optimum health; a fine grind Himalayan salt is available at Costco for $4.95/lb.)

1/2 c water, with 2 pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate)

Chopped curly parsley for optional garnish

  1. first foam

    Proceed to step 6, if using butter instead of ghee.  To prepare health-giving ghee, which takes about 15 minutes, use only a heavy-bottomed saucepan.  In it, melt 8 oz unsalted butter-preferably Irish, grass-fed, Kerry butter from Costco-over medium heat, shaking pan to speed up melting.  Note: there is less wastage using only half a pound of butter, compared to doubling recipe with a pound.

  2. When melted, cook until an even layer of white whey proteins forms on top (see photo above).
  3. first foam breaking

    Continue cooking until milk solids break apart, and foam subsides, temperature will be about 190 degrees (a thermometer isn’t required).  At this stage you have clarified butter.  Note: if foam is starting to brown deeply and quickly, your pan is not heavy enough to make ghee; thus, remove from heat and immediately strain this clarified butter in a coffee-filter-lined strainer.  See photo.

  4. second foam risen, ghee finished

    To proceed with ghee, however, cook butterfat until a second foam rises, and it is golden in color.  This will take 2-3 more minutes, and temperature will reach 250 degrees.  Watch carefully as dry casein particles, settled on bottom of pan, will brown quickly.  See photo.

  5. Immediately, gently strain butterfat through a coffee filter, into a heat-proof dish.  Cool and transfer into an airtight container to keep out moisture.  This lasts for many weeks, at room temperature, and for up to six months, when stored in the refrigerator.
  6. scraping carrots in bag hung over nozzle of sink

    Wash and scrape carrots with a sharp knife; this preserves the vitamins just below the skin.  For cleanliness, scrape into a plastic garbage bag, which is hung over nozzle in kitchen sink; change bag as needed.  Place scraped carrots in another plastic bag.  See photo.

  7. Cut carrots in thin slices, at a diagonal; set aside.
  8. In a large, heavy-bottomed sauté pan, place 4 tbsp of ghee, or butter, Monkfruit, or sugar, salt, and water, to which you’ve added two pinches of baking soda (bicarbonate).  Melt over medium heat; add carrots, coating them well; then, cover closely and cook until barely tender, stirring occasionally.  Check for water periodically, adding a small amount more, if your pan isn’t heavy-bottom, and it starts to become dry.
  9. When carrots are desired tenderness, uncover pan and glaze carrots in remaining butter sauce, until all the water is evaporated, stirring frequently (see photo at top of recipe).
  10. Garnish with optional chopped curly parsley; serve hot.