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I absolutely love Valentine’s Day, but not really for the obvious reasons.
Yes, I adore the heart-shaped red velvet boxes full of decadent chocolates, gorgeous flowers waiting in all of their aromatic glory to make someone feel like the most special person on earth, and of course the darling heart-shaped cookies with pink frosting that make children, even the most jaded boys, smile with glee.
I just love sharing Valentine’s Day with my family and favorite friends by marking the day with goodies filled with love. We usually start the day with a baked treat. School lunches will be filled with heart-shaped sandwiches, and all the pink and red food I can conjure up, like red peppers, radishes, pink meringues, and a nice array of pink and red jelly bellies.
As the day progresses, I plan an intimate dinner for four with the best guys I know: West, Dexter and Felex. I prepare the family favorite, a gigantic amount of heart shaped macaroni and cheese, and end the evening with a chocolate soufflé, toasted with the finest sparkling cider.
Not to make this day sound so perfect, I will let you all know that there is plenty of eye-rolling and “MOM!…. We don’t need all this pink heart-shaped fluff fluff!”
But I have it on good authority that the guys will appreciate my antics later on in life.
A great way to start Valentine’s Day:
Cherry Almond Scones2 cups unbleached all purpose flour 1/3 cup sugar 1 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1/2 teaspoon salt 1 stick unsalted butter, cold and chopped in small bits Orange zest; approximately 2 teaspoons 1 cup dried cherries ½ cup chopped almonds 2/3 cup buttermilk 1 large egg yolk 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1/4 teaspoon almond extract Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in large bowl. Add butter and orange peel; rub in with fingertips until coarse meal forms.
Mix in almonds and dried cherries. In a separate bowl add buttermilk, egg yolk, vanilla extract and almond extract.
Add buttermilk mixture to dry ingredients, mixing until dough comes together in moist clumps. (I use my fingers, but a spatula or fork will work as well). Gather dough into ball and form into a rectangle of about ¾-inch thickness on a lightly floured work surface.
If you would like, use a heart-shaped cookie cutter to cut out scones. Or cut into small squares. If there is any remaining dough, go ahead and gather any scraps and cut out additional scones. Transfer to baking sheet. If you are making these the night before, cover with plastic wrap and pop in the freezer. You do not need to bring the scones to room temperature prior to baking. Just place in the preheated oven when you are ready to bake.
Brush scones lightly with buttermilk. Sprinkle with sugar if you like that look. Bake until scones are golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 15-20 minutes
Andrea Charroin was a trained baker and pastry chef in San Francisco before she and her family moved to Redding nine years ago. After falling in love with Redding’s downtown, Andrea and husband Westley opened a little pastry shop, Rene-Joule Patisserie, across from the Cascade Theatre. For the three years Rene-Joule was in business, it was renowned for making everything from scratch, using the best ingredients and keeping with a seasonal menu. To this day, Andrea is asked about her Marathon Bars, Orange Twists and sourdough bread.
Copyright 2008 Andrea R. Charroin. Visit my blog at bakerslove.typepad.com