Brigadeiro8_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

When I’m in a pinch and need some hot fudge ASAP (hey, these things happen) I often melt some chocolate into sweetened condensed milk, add a bit of butter and vanilla and call it good. A few weeks ago I came across an article on these candies, and found that if I kept cooking this mixture I’d end up with brigadeiros – a favorite Brazilian candy!

While sources seem to disagree on the candy’s origin, here’s the version from Celebrate Brazil:

Brigadeiros were first made by the wife of Brigadier Eduardo Gomes, of the Brazilian Air Force. Famous for helping end a coup by the communists on Rio de Janeiro in the 1920s, he later ran for the 1946 presidency and his wife created brigadeiros as a treat for campaign fundraising events.

The legend has it that people asked if others had tried the “Brigadeiro’s’ candy” and the name stuck. It was a simple candy made with only three ingredients during a time when other food items were in short supply because of the war. Also, Nestle was introducing chocolate powder and condensed milk during this time.

And there you have it! I used low-fat condensed milk and they turned out fine. These candies are super easy (gluten free!), you could booze them up with some rum or brandy, and roll them in whatever coating strikes your fancy. If you’re looking for a unique handmade signature treat for the holidays, look no further!

Brigadeiros, Makes about 18 1″ candies

  • Two cans of low-fat sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/3 c. cocoa powder (I used a mixture of Ghiradelli and Hershey’s Special Dark.)
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 T. vanilla (or other flavoring of your choice)
  • Ground nuts, sprinkles, cake or cookie crumbs for the coating

Combine the first three ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat.

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The cocoa will turn into little lumps and it will look like a disaster at first, but that’s okay! Keep stirring, and it will start to boil.

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The lumps will dissolve and it will smell amazing. After about 10-15 minutes it should be reduced by half and thicken up to where your strokes leave open areas in the mixture for a few seconds – like chocolate lava.

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Stir in the vanilla or other flavoring and pour it into a shallow metal pan to cool.

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When it is cold and scoopable, get your work area set up with a bowl of coating crumbs. Roll the candy into 1″ balls. Then roll them in the crumbs.

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I put them into these little gold petit four cups to keep them neat.

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What do they look like inside? I’m glad you asked!

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I think they are best described as the thickest hot fudge sauce you can imagine – smooth and sauve.

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Also, cute! These will keep at room temp for two days, or a week in the fridge.

Two years ago: Candy Cane Bites
One year ago: Salted Caramel Pepitas

lebkuchen8_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

These cookies have been on my “to-do” baking list for a long time, for many reasons. My grandmother’s family left Bavaria for this country in 1752, and I like to think of my Shaull ancestors having these cookies at the holidays. Also, they’re so interesting from the standpoint of culinary history.

Long sacred, from the year 1000 to the 1500s the universal craving for exotic spices from the lands of paradise drove the movement around the globe. By the 1400s there were spice inspectors at the gates of Nuremberg making sure only the highest quality crossed into the city, and even English families were eating their way through seventeen pounds of ginger a year.

Another cool thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t have any shortening, butter or white sugar. Instead, it uses honey, and honeycakes trace their origins back to Greece (2400 BC). Later they were a favorite of King Tut as well.

As the dark dreary days blend into each other it’s a lovely thing to go out, buy some fresh spices and fill the house the scent of paradise to ward off the spirits of darkness – spices are as restorative now as ever! Traditionally these cookies are often glazed on top with a simple icing. I’ve opted to coat the bottoms with chocolate instead.

Lebkuchen, Makes about 36 3″ cookies
1/2 c. honey
1/2 c. molasses
3/4 c. packed brown sugar
1 egg
1 T. lemon juice
1 t. lemon zest
2 3/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1 t. ground cinnamon
1 t. ground cloves
1 t. ground allspice
1/3 cup ground hazelnuts
1/2 t. ground coriander

Note: You can add 1 t. nutmeg as well if you like.

Chocolate coating: 1/2 package Ghiradelli dark melting wafers & 3 oz. Ghiradelli Midnight dark chocolate

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To make the cookies: Warm the molasses and honey together in the microwave for one minute.

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Pour it into a mixing bowl with the egg, brown sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest.

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Stir in the rest of the ingredients well.

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At this point you can wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate it overnight. However, I rarely have that kind of time so I just keep going. Preheat the oven to 350 and lightly flour your work surface. Turn out half of the dough and roll it out to 1/4″ thick.

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Put the cookies on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes, until puffed and barely brown at the edges.

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Completely cool the cookies on a rack. To make the chocolate glaze, break the chocolate bar into pieces and combine it in a bowl with the melting wafers. Microwave for one minute, then stir. Microwave for another 30 seconds, and stir until smooth.

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Spread the bottom of each cookie with the glaze.

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Let the cookies sit while the glaze sets up. After the chocolate hardens, store the cookies in plastic bags, separating the layers with sheets of waxed paper. Add a cut slice of apple or a piece of bread and let them rest for two days. This will soften them slightly while the flavors blend.

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Two years ago: Ginger Thins (Pepparkakor)
One year ago: Fruitcake 2.0

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by Heather Harris Brady

Okay, finishing up the Moroccan menu today and then we’ll get down to the holiday baking! This grated carrot salad is bright, fresh and easy to love – packed with vitamins and a nice counterpoint to rich holiday foods. The apple burek is my variation of an individual m’hanncha, a Moroccan filo dessert shaped like a snail or a snake, depending on how you want to look at it. I made it as an alternative to a heavier apple pie. Aside from the sprinkling of powdered sugar, this apple burek is sweetened only by the apples and honey.

I’m combining these two because both recipes are so short.


 

Grated Carrot Salad, Makes six servings

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  • Five large well-flavored carrots (heirloom would be great here)
  • Two large navel oranges
  • 2 T. lemon juice
  • 1 t. cinnamon

Grate the carrots on a fine blade and put them in your serving dish.

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Segment the two oranges over the dish, so you catch any juice. If you are new to segmenting citrus, here’s how:

First, cut the top and bottom peel away, so it sits nicely. I like to use a serrated knife myself.

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Next, cut the sides away, following the curve of the fruit.

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Now, holding the fruit carefully in your palm, cut each segment loose.

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When you’re done you’ll have a stack of the membranes, like the pages of a book.

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In the bowl you will lots of pretty segments.

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Toss the oranges and carrots with the lemon juice, sprinkle with cinnamon and serve well-chilled. This keeps several days.


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Apple Burek, Makes about five servings

  • Three fresh apples sliced, a mixture of varieties is good
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 T. honey
  • 1 package of filo dough
  • 1 egg
  • 2 T. butter, melted
  • 3 T. water
  • Powdered sugar for sprinkling

Put the apples in a saucepan with 1 T. of water. Cook on medium-low until you have a thick, chunky applesauce.

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Stir in the cinnamon and set aside. Preheat the oven to 400. Beat the egg, melted butter and water together in a bowl and set aside.

Unwrap your filo and separate out three leaves, keeping the rest covered. Dab the sheets all over with the egg wash.

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Spoon out a line of apple filling near the bottom of the sheet.

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Roll the dough over the filling and continue rolling until you get to the end, adding more egg wash as necessary. Now you will have a long, cigarette shaped log with the filling in middle. Starting at one end, spiral the log around itself so you end up with a snail shape.

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Brush the end with more egg wash to seal it and move it to a greased baking sheet.

Repeat with the remaining sheets of filo.

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Bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

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Sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon, serve warm or at room temperature.

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Two years ago: Apricot Ginger Biscotti
One year ago: Fruitcake 2.0

moroccan9_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

For the main course I changed up the traditional roast bird to this tagine. It’s a great way to use up leftover roast poultry, or you can do a spice rub and roast your bird (or tofu) specifically for the dish. In the photo above you can see that I used a larger Israeli couscous, but feel free to use any type you prefer.

For the large family meal I served all the meat, vegetables and sauce separately so people could skip the sauce if they wanted. For the spice lovers in your family you can also include a shot of harissa on the side.

Tagine Style Stew, Makes eight generous servings

  • 3 c. chopped roast poultry (chicken or turkey)
  • 4 c. diced vegetables
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 2 c. coucous, steamed/cooked according to package directions
  • One large can (14 oz.) red ripe tomatoes
  • One large can (14 oz.) tomato sauce
  • 2 T. minced garlic
  • 1 T. cinnamon
  • 2 t. cracked pepper
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • Feta cheese (optional)
  • Pita bread (optional)

Make the sauce. (You can do this a day ahead of time.) Combine the whole tomatoes and the tomato sauce in a deep pan. Add the seasonings.

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Simmer for at least an hour, until the sauce is reduced by 1/3 and the whole tomatoes are melting into the sauce. While the sauce is cooking, preheat the oven to 400 and clean the veggies. I used sweet potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes and parsnips.

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Toss the vegetables with the olive oil and spread them out on a baking sheet in a single layer. Put them in the oven to roast. Stir them periodically so they cook evenly and remove them when they are just tender all the way through.

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At this point the vegetables and sauce can be stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready for them. To proceed with the recipe, combine the turkey, vegetables and sauce. Heat it through in a dutch oven (375 for 45 minutes) or on the stovetop in a large deep pan (medium for 30 minutes).

Serve the stew over the couscous. If you like, sprinkle each serving with feta cheese and serve with a side of pita bread.

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Two years ago: Danish Peppernut Cookies

One year ago: Lemon Poppyseed Scones

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by Heather Harris Brady

Semolina flour is a predominant ingredient in many Moroccan dishes, and these are no exception. The dough is soft and a bit chewy, a nice complement to the sausage inside. You can use the traditional spicy lamb sausage if you can get it, hot italian sausage like me, veggies and cheese – anything really!

Sausage Pastries, Makes about eight 3″ pastries

  • 1/2 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • 1/3 c. warm water
  • 1 pkg. quick-rise yeast
  • 1 T. sugar
  • 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/2 c. all-purpose flour (or replace 1/2 c. of this flour with a seasoned corn flour)
  • 1 c. semolina pastry flour
  • 1 c. sausage, browned and cooled

Combine the first four ingredients together and set aside for 20 minutes.

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Stir in all the rest of the ingredients except the sausage and stir until it cleans the side of the bowl. Let rise until doubled.

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Punch down the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured board. Divide it into eight golf-ball sized pieces. Take the first piece and divide it in two.

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Roll out each into a 3″ circle, add a spoon of sausage and seal the edges.

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When you’ve rolled them all out, heat up a cast iron pan (but don’t grease it). Put the patties in and let them brown well, then turn and do the other side.

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I tipped mine up along the sides of the pan to make sure the edges all cooked through as well. These go well with wine and would be great with beer. If you want to dress them up add a dipping cup of harissa on the side.

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One year ago: Candied Citron

Two years ago: Finnish Teaspoon Cookies (My favorite!)

moroccan7_little-house-dunes

by Heather Harris Brady

It’s been a while since I’ve done a full menu so I thought I’d take the chance now, because this would be great for people who are ready for something different. You can make it your own, keeping the sauce on the side, adjusting the amount of heat, leave out the meat – whatever! So I’m going to do the run-down today and tomorrow we’ll start on the recipes. Most of these are from Paula Wolfert’s amazing The Food of Morocco, but I translated the idea for the appetizers and the apple burek from my other experiments.

Appetizer: Sausage-Stuffed Pastries

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Salad: Orange and Grated Carrot Salad

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Main Course: Moroccan Stew with Couscous

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Dessert: Apple Burek

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Two years ago: Cookie-Palooza

One year ago: Sweet Potato Pumpkin Pie

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by Heather Harris Brady

Hi everyone! I hope you all had a chance for some great meals last week. This is the companion recipe to the vanilla sauce of my last post. It’s a warm, comforting thing to have when the thermometer shows 17 degrees and the wind chill is even lower. Make sure you use a firm, slightly dry baking apple here – avoid anything that will release a lot of juice during baking.

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I sprinkled the top with maple sugar, to give it a bit of a brulee texture and an extra boost of flavor. Maple sugar looks a lot like light brown sugar, but it’s made from maple sap like maple syrup. I bought this on a trip earlier this year through Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Apple Clafouti, About six generous servings

  • Two large, well-flavored baking apples, thinly sliced
  • 3 T. unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 3 eggs, well-beaten
  • 6 T. all-purpose flour
  • ¾ c. milk or half-and-half
  • 2 t. vanilla
  • Maple sugar, optional

Preheat the oven to 375 and layer the apples in a greased 9″ deep-dish pie plate.

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Set aside one tablespoon of the melted butter. Whisk all the remaining ingredients together well and pour them over the apple slices.

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Sprinkle to top generously with the maple sugar and drizzle it with the reserved melted butter.

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Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the center is firm and the sugared top is browned.

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Cut into slices and serve warm with cold vanilla sauce.

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Two years ago: Swedish Visiting Cake

One year ago: Russian Braids

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by Heather Harris Brady

I’m not gonna lie. I made this dessert entirely for the sauce, and because it would fabulous on the gingerbread from the last post, I’m posting the recipe for the sauce first. You might want to skip the frosting if you use the sauce, but hey, what you do in the privacy of your own kitchen is your business.

My son came home from a German-class field trip raving about a vanilla sauce that was on the dessert. Sure enough, I found the recipe below as vanillasosse in The German Cookbook (that’s it’s title, it has a black cover) I bought him last Christmas. To get down to brass tacks, it’s really a thin pudding, and it’s delicious.

Vanilla Sauce, Makes about three cups of sauce

  • 2 c. milk
  • One vanilla bean or 2 t. vanilla
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 T. cornstarch
  • 3 egg yolks, beaten in a bowl
  • 2 egg whites

Since we’ve made puddings lots of times I’m skipping a few steps here. Warm the milk (with the vanilla bean if you’re using one) in a double boiler or over medium heat (if you’re brave and a conscientious stirrer). Stir together the sugar and cornstarch.

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Whisk the sugar mixture into the milk and cook until thick. Remove the vanilla bean. Stir some of the hot, thickened milk into the egg yolks and return them to the pan, whisking all the while. Cook for another minute.

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Remove from heat and quickly whisk in the vanilla (if you didn’t use the bean) and the egg whites.

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(I have new bulbs in the kitchen lights and I’m still figuring out how to adjust my photos – sorry!)

Beat for two minutes, until lightened. (The hot sauce will cook the egg whites.) Pour the sauce into a shallow metal pan, press a piece of plastic wrap over the top and quickly cool it in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

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I’ll post the clafouti recipe later in the week. I hope you will all have a chance to share a good meal with family and friends this week!

One year ago: Parker House Dinner Rolls

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by Heather Harris Brady

With this post I finally feel like we are heading into my favorite time of the year – baking season! Since I did a whole Thanksgiving dinner last year I wanted to give you some more options this year. Often when you’re visiting you want to take something along, and nearly as often there are pre-existing dietary issues you might or might not know in advance. This cake is great choice for those times. It’s gluten-free, but so moist and delicious it would be welcome anywhere. Thanks to the olive oil and yogurt, it’s also healthier than many other recipes from the pumpkin/carrot-cake style repertoire.

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For this recipe I used a blend from a Michigan mill, Westwind, but feel free to substitute your own favorite GF flour blend. The cake itself is not very sweet, which a lot of people prefer. However, if you have a real sweet tooth in the house you can add a homey vanilla frosting like I did.

Pumpkin Gingerbread, 16 2″ squares

  • 2-1/2 c. gluten-free flour blend
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 2 t. baking soda
  • 1 t. cinnamon
  • 1 t. cardamom
  • 2/3 c. agave nectar
  • 1/2 c. olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 1 T. freshly ground gingerroot
  • 2/3 c. nonfat plain yogurt
  • One 12 oz. can pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 c. hot water

Combine the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl and preheat the oven to 325.

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Add the next six ingredients and stir well.

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Fold in the pumpkin and the hot water.

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Spread the batter into a 8″ square pan and bake about 30 minutes, until the center is firm.

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Cool completely and frost if you like. (See recipe below.)

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The cake keeps well and is actually better the next day after the flavors have had a chance to blend.

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Store any leftovers at room temperature lightly covered.

Optional vanilla frosting:

Combine 4 T. soft butter, 3 c. powdered sugar and 1 t. vanilla in a mixing bowl. Add 1 T. heavy cream. Beat for three minutes. If it’s too thick, drizzle in a little more cream, one teaspoon at a time and beating all the while, until you reach your desired consistency.
One year ago: Pumpkin Ice Cream

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by Heather Harris Brady

There’s a place in my town that makes scones with apricot and ginger, and while I like the flavor combo much of the time the scones I buy end up being too dry for my taste. In my view scones should be tender and buttery even before you start to load them up.

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Here I’m using fresh crystallized ginger, a chopped sea salt-almond-dark chocolate bar and a cardamom-oatmeal powder to round out the cream and butter.

Ginger-Dark Chocolate Scones, Makes about eight large or 16 small (3″)

  • 2-1/2 c. regular flour
  • 1/3 c. granulated sugar
  • 2 t. baking powder
  • 4 T. butter
  • 3 green cardamom pods or 1 t. ground cardamom
  • 1/2 c. thick-cut rolled oatmeal
  • 1/2 c. diced crystallized ginger
  • 4 oz. dark chocolate, chopped
  • 3/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1/3 c. milk

Combine the first three ingredients in a mixing bowl and preheat the oven to 375.

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Cut in the butter to coarse crumbs.

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Grind the cardamom pods in your spice grinder, when you have a coarse grind add the oatmeal and grind to a powder.

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If you’re using ground cardamom just grind the oatmeal (you could use a food processor if you don’t have a spice grinder).

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Stir the cream and the milk into the flour mixture. Turn it out onto a floured work surface and knead it quickly four turns.

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Quickly knead in the oatmeal, ginger and chocolate.

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Pat the dough into a circle about 1/2″ thick. You can do one large circle, for large scones or two smaller circles.

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Cut it into eight wedges and put them on a lightly greased cookie sheet.

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Bake about 20 minutes, until puffed and lightly browned.

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Serve warm.

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Store any leftover scones at room temperature lightly covered.

One year ago: Apple Butter Bundt Cake with Browned Butter Glaze

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