Thursday, September 24, 2015

Sweet Potato-Sage Scones with Spicy Cherry Jam

Yesterday was the first day of autumn, and, for once, Boston weather is adhering to the schedule. Seemingly overnight we swapped beach days for crisp, cool mornings, and glimpses of orange leaves are popping up all over my neighborhood. And I. Will. Take it.

I know plenty of my fellow New Englanders are still reeling from Snowmageddon '15, but we had a beautiful, long summer, and I'm tired of sweating, and of not eating pumpkins, sweet potatoes, or squash on the regular.



So let's start with breakfast! Sweet potato and sage (the one part of my herb garden that shows no sign of giving up as we enter fall) are always a sure bet to pair together, and this not-quite-sweet, not-quite-savory scone is no exception. I like to cut my dough into mini scones (these bake up to about 3 inches long), which makes them perfect for a quick snack or for breakfast, downed in sets.

Oh also, let's talk about this jam. It is a little sweet, a little tart, and ends with a little heat thanks to some cayenne pepper. And it's seriously delicious - it shines on these scones, but works just as well as part of a cheese board (brie, meet cherry jam) or even on a kicked-up PB&J. And it's also seriously easy - we're not talking an all-weekend canning experience, just a quick boil and stir to get everything mixed up.



Cook's notes: I used sweet potato as I had one to use up, but feel free to sub in canned pumpkin if you have it handy. The resulting taste will be quite similar. Along the same lines, sour cream will work just as well for the yogurt; I have used both in this recipe and tasted no difference. Fat-free Greek yogurt helps keep the calories down, if you're into that kind of thing.

And finally, I find that while cooking with pumpkin or sweet potato makes baked goods very moist and can serve as an egg replacement (as in this recipe), it also seems to necessitate a longer baking time. Keep an eye them, but you may find they need up to 5 minutes more in the oven, depending on your appliance.



Also to keep in mind: this a fabulous base recipe for scones, which I have adjusted for all sorts of flavor combinations. Without the sweet potato, add one egg to the wet ingredients, and then play around! Two of my other favorites are dried cherry/chocolate chips and lemon/fresh rosemary.

Sweet Potato-Sage Scones
Makes 16 mini scones
  • 1/2 cup Greek non-fat yogurt
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
  • 3/4 cup pureed, cooked sweet potato (1 small potato)
  • 2 Tbsp fresh sage, chopped

Spicy Cherry Jam
Yield: ~1 cup
  • 1/2 pound fresh or frozen tart cherries, pitted
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • Pinch cayenne pepper
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • Pinch salt

For scones:

Preheat oven to 350F.

In a small bowl, mix baking soda into yogurt. Let sit for 5 minutes while you prep other ingredients - it will get fluffy as the baking soda activates.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, salt, and pumpkin pie spice. Cut in chilled butter with a pastry blender or two knives until all of the butter is pea-sized or smaller.

With a fork, mix yogurt mixture, sage, and sweet potato into the flour/butter mixture. The dough will be quite shaggy. Empty onto a floured counter and knead with your hands a few times so it comes together into a (still a bit shaggy) dough ball.

Divide dough into two discs, each roughly 5 inches in diameter by 1 inch thick. With a large knife, pizza cutter, or bench scraper, cut each disc into 8 wedges. Using the bench scraper or a spatula, transfer the wedges to a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet, leaving about an inch between each scone.

Bake in preheated oven for 20 minutes, until tops of scones are ever-so-slightly browned.


For jam:

Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, and mashing cherries as they soften.

Once boiling, cook until thickened, at least 5 minutes. Depending on how much your cherries have broken down, you could use an immersion blender to smooth it out (I did).

Remove from heat, cool to room temperature, and store in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for a week or two.

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