Photo by Joseph De Leo; styled by Mariya Yufest
Can you imagine Sesame Street without Oscar? In spite of the fact that he is a trash-loving sourpuss -- or maybe because of it -- Oscar the Grouch has always kept things interesting. Just as cantankerous but perhaps less beloved, Simon Cowell left his mark on the original American Idol with his soul-crushing comments to contestants. His grumpiness brought a certain counterbalance to the show, if you will. Acerbic allure makes an impact on baked goods and desserts, too. Buttery blueberry pound cake would be one-dimensional without a brightening infusion of lemon zest and a drizzle of citrus glaze. Passionfruit lends a welcome tang to the creamy monotony of an airy mousse. And key lime juice cuts through the sweetness of its namesake pie filling.
Unabashedly sour rhubarb also uses its mouth-puckering powers for good. Though actually a vegetable, it is commonly paired with strawberries in pies, crisps, and crumbles, creating spring’s quintessential yin and yang match-up of tart and sweet. Here, rhubarb goes solo in Midge’s decadent scones, and plays a key role in reigning in the "naughty" richness brought on by bad boys butter and heavy cream.
Note: If you don’t have any vanilla sugar, make your own by burying a split vanilla bean and its scraped-out seeds in two cups of sugar and storing it in an airtight container for a couple weeks to infuse. For a more immediate solution, mix one cup of sugar with one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract in a bowl and combine thoroughly. Spread the mixture onto a parchment or waxed paper-lined tray or baking sheet to dry for a few hours. Once dried, there may be lumps, which can be crushed with a rolling pin. Try adding leftover vanilla sugar to other baked treats, use it to sweeten coffee or whipped cream, rim a cocktail glass with it, sprinkle it on buttered toast, or bake another batch of these tender, ruby-flecked scones.
Naughty Rhubarb Scones by Midge
Makes 12-16 scones
3 stalks rhubarb
2 1/2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup vanilla sugar
2/3 - 3/4 cup heavy cream
Have you ever made scones from scratch? What fruits and other flavorings do you like to add? Share your baking tips and ideas in the comments section below!
Like this post? See the Easy Everyday topic from last week: Spaghetti alla Carbonara.