Memories once lived are memories forgotten. Or so we tend to think. It’s really not easy to gain back time with loved ones, after all, especially when it happened twenty-some years ago. That’s why food, in essence, is more than just nutrients and flavor, or something to be avoided due to the caloric content of it. To me it speaks volumes of those idyllic moments we cherish forever in our hearts. No one knows of the hours I spent peeling chestnuts with mother by, well, an “imaginary” fire in my mind, or those days when I amused myself watching her yelp critiques of my dad’s dumpling folding skills…to which I passionately disagreed; actually, his meticulous skills far surpassed hers. He just took his time, that’s all.
The humble little chestnut is one of those foods that conjure up a slow type of living for me. It always brings the sweetest kind of memory—even literally. Mother would sit at our old wooden table spending near an hour peeling each and every single boiled chestnut. There would have been almost a hundred of them. I tried to help, and though I succeeded with less than ten of them and with fingernail cuticles throbbing for days, I felt every bit of bonding with her in those short moments given to us.
Chestnuts are the iconic symbol in many cultures for the new coming year. In Japan, apparently, it is commonly eaten as a sweet mash of sorts, and I would guess the most delicious kind. It symbolizes of the prosperity waiting ahead in the year to come, and, to top it off, it is simply delicious. The powerful flavors within a single chestnut never fail to satisfy my love for complexity when it comes to amusing the palate. I adore the chewy, nutty, and hearty quality of it, which I believe goes wonderfully in a scone. Scones have long been a favorite of mine, and one can call me a scone critic, I suppose.
This recipe is fool-proof, my friends. The crumb is creamy, tender and soft, but with a slight crunch in every bite. The walnuts act as the perfect companion for the chestnuts, giving it a nuttier boost all throughout. And last but not least, please do use salted butter for a good scone! I never knew the value of using this ingredient until now. Every baker is seemingly fearful of salted butter because we’re always told to avoid it at all costs. It wasn’t until I was spurred on by Linda Lomelino and Kayley—two of the best baking bloggers out there—that I realized salted butter can truly enhance the outcome of a good pastry. You will certainly taste the difference and once you do, you might never go back.
Chestnut Walnut Scones
Makes 6 large scones
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp+1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup salted butter, room temp (I used Plugra)
1/2 cup+2 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg yolk
1/2 cup canned chestnuts (easily found at Asian stores)
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1 large egg yolk+1 tbsp milk
coarse sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 425 F degrees. In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and sugar.
Cut the butter into small cubes and massage into the dry ingredients with your hands, just until crumbly. Stir the vanilla into the whipping cream and add it to the dough, followed by the egg yolk. Knead with your hands until dough comes together, but don’t knead too much!
Add the chestnuts and walnuts. Knead just enough until it is well incorporated. On a lightly floured cold surface, form the dough into a disk of about 1-1 1/4 inch in height. Cut into six equal wedges. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place the scones in a circle without touching each other, but just about 1/2 inch in distance.
Brush with mixture of egg yolk and milk. Sprinkle with coarse sugar and bake approximately 25-30 minutes or until it is golden. It depends on your humidity level and oven. Serve with butter and preserves of your choice!