Baking to Chase the Blues

When you're happy and you know it, clap your hands.
When you've had a not-so-hot day, you need to relax, and/or you simply cannot face another morning of Special K dry and crunchy from the bowl, bake.
It might not make it as a children's song, but in my opinion it's a darn good mantra. There is nothing like baking to make you feel better. It utilizes all your senses (I suppose there's not a lot of sounds in particular for baking, though certainly just hearing my gas oven light up works for me) for something that for me is almost in a sense spiritual, in which you can simply focus on the food and less on everything else. Nigella notes in Forever Summer (my current bedtime reading) that "the strange thing about cooking is that obviously it is about an end product, and yet it isn't entirely." And she is so right.
I actually came across the madmommychronicles post cruising the foodworld the other night rather randomly somehow, and thought how lucky she was to have found cappuccino chips. I adore the expanding chip sections, with everything now from swirled mixture to dark chocolate chips to little caramel cups. I personally have fond memories of cinnamon chips, which are fantastically good for muffins and the like, and despite an array of well-stocked grocery stores in the relative area I have not seen them since lewisburg. but I'd never seen cappuccino chips until the other night in the baking section, and then, in a moment of Mt. Everest mentality, I had to buy them and use them, simply because they were there. I had been contemplating scones in the first place for them, as I've got some leftover cream, but hadn't really been certain of what exactly. So I revisited the site and post which had clued me into the chips' existence. Though there's several good recommendations, there's a post of a Nigella recipe for cappuccino walnut cookies, and from there their inspired fate was sealed.
These are just my standard scone recipe from the new Joy of Cooking, with some cinnamon and vanilla thrown in - I really don't think there's much of anything that can't benefit from a touch of vanilla, so I've taken to just dashing it along with virtually any baked good. If I'd had espresso powder on hand, I think a touch could go in as well for a more pronounced coffee flavor, but the cinnamon makes the scone reminiscent of a snickerdoodle, and that's not a bad thing at all. It's really difficult not to cheer up with these treats: they're ready to go in just about a half-hour, are in the oven just long enough to finish all the dishes, and smell like happiness. Having already tasted part of one tonight (it broke coming loose from the sheet . . . I swear) there is no contest between scone and cereal as to what will start tomorrow's day off right.

1/2 c chopped walnuts
2 c flour
1/3 c sugar
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 tsp cinnamon
5 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 c cappuccino chips
1 large egg
3/4 c heavy cream + 1 Tbsp for brushing scones
1 tsp vanilla
turbinado sugar for sprinkling

In a small frying pan or skillet over low heat, toast the walnuts briefly until they just color and begin to give off aroma, about 5 minutes, tossing gently as you go. Remove from heat and let cool for a few minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 F.
In a large bowl whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and cinnamon until well combined. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture is a fine breadcrumb texture. Using a rubber spoonula or spatula gently stir in the cappuccino chips and cooled walnuts. In a measuring cup or small bowl whisk together well the egg, 3/4 c cream and vanilla. Pour the cream mixture over dry ingredients all at once and mix until just moistened, making sure to press and adhere any loose bits on the side of the bowl.
Transfer to a lightly floured surface and pat out to an 8-inch round. Cut into eight wedges and place about 1/2 inch apart on a ungreased baking sheet. Brush the tops with some of the 1 T cream and sprinkle with turbinado sugar. Bake until the tops are golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Let cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet before gently removing them to a rack. They're best served still warm from the oven, but still delicious when cool.
Yield: 8 scones


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