One of our favorite Happy New Year traditions is a new year’s brunch with good friends in Brooklyn. This year was no different.
To test out my new Baked Elements cookbook, I decided to make scones. Well, actually, I wanted to make scones from my new Bouchon Bakery cookbook, but I had a minor catastrophe called “I didn’t read the recipe in advance” and therefore didn’t have enough time on new year’s morning to make the batter, let it chill for 2 hours, shape it, then let it freeze for 2 hours. I’ll make those scones another day. Instead, I decided to make Baked’s Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones which were a big success!
I was a bit worried that the scones would be super sweet, partly because the Baked Boys write that the scones “masquerade … as cookies.” And partly because it calls for brown sugar, chocolate chips and peanut butter, which is quite a bit more sweetness than my normal scone recipe which just requires 2 tablespoons of sugar. But they were delicious: sweet, but not overpowering, crumbly but not dry, and hearty with the oatmeal and chunky peanut butter. See the full recipe below.
Because I believe in symbolically starting the new year the way I want the whole year to go, I made sure to bake, we enjoyed a great meal with friends, and we wanted to play games. Our friends gave us Castles of Burgundy so of course we had to sit right down to play!
This game was really fun for a couple of reasons. First of all, all players are trying to build up their own realms, so there is some competition for resources on the main board, but you are very much in control of your own board. This means that no one can destroy or take away something that you’ve built, which I really like in a game. There is also a nice element of randomness because your actions are based on rolls of your dice – you have no one to blame but your own die-rolling ability if you’re unhappy with the choices available to you.
Probably my favorite part of the game is the fact that there are lots of different strategies you can use to gain points. This means that you’re not necessarily competing directly with the other players for the same type of resource; it also means that you can change your approach as you go and still do reasonably well. I’m sure with more plays we’ll perfect our strategy.
Right now my main quibble is that the game should come with cheat sheets for the various benefits from the knowledge and building cards; I’ll make these cards when I get home. When we opened the game we all thought it would be similar to Settlers of Catan, but the game is significantly different in play, mechanics, feel, and pace. The box says it can be played in 30-90 minutes. We took a bit longer than that, but we definitely got faster as we learned the ropes. It was a great game. (Full disclosure: I won handily with some excellent knowledge cards. This always helps me like a game better…)
Ultimately, good friends, good food, a good recipe from a new book, and a good game: great start to the new year!
Oatmeal Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Scones
From Baked Elements
Yield: 8 scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup rolled oats
3 ounces (3/4 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
3/4 cup well-shaken buttermilk (I used a bit more than 1/2 cup of milk mixed with a heaping tablespoon of 0% plain Greek yogurt)
1 large egg, separated
1/2 cup chunky peanut butter
6 ounces (about 1 cup) semisweet or milk chocolate chips (I firmly believe you can never have too many chocolate chips and used closer to 7 ounces)
2 tablespoons raw sugar (optional)
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F and position the rack in the center. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and oats. Add the butter and use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour mixture until the butter is pea-size and the mixture looks like chunky, coarse sand.
In a glass measuring cup or small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg yolk until combined.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk mixture into the center of the well. Add the peanut butter. Using clean, dry, lightly floured hands, gently mix and knead the dough in the bowl until it starts to come together. Add the chocolate chips and knead until just incorporated. Do not overwork the dough.
Turn the dough our directly onto the prepared baking sheet and shape it into a disk 7 1/2 to 8 inches in diameter and about 1 1/2 inches high. Beat the egg white slightly, brush the top of the dough with the egg white, and sprinkle with the raw sugar, if you wish.
Cut the dough into 8 wedges – but do not separate the wedges – and bake for 18 to 22 minutes, or until the scones start the brown, rotating the baking sheet halfway through. Alternatively, check for doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center of the scone. If the toothpick comes out clean or with just a few crumbs clinging to it, the scones are done. (Make sure these are fully cooked – an underbaked scones is not nearly as good as a slightly underbaked brownie.)
Remove from the oven, let cool for 5 minutes and re-slice and separate the scones. Serve slightly warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Scones taste best when consumed within 24 hours of baking, but you could store these scones in an air-tight container for up to 2 days.