Marshmallow Hair and Hazelnut Brown Sugar Biscuits
I woke up with marshmallow in my hair this morning. And while that’s not my idea of a storybook start to a day, it made me smile. Last night Greg and I skipped our usual after-dinner walk in favor of a backyard fire and the last two glasses of last summer’s Rumtopf. There’s something magical about watching a fire whether it’s blazing and the flames are licking the night sky, or it’s smoldering with a sensually pulsating amber light.
For the twelve years that we’ve called this place our home, the fire is where we come to dream. What if we win the lotto? Italy, oh Italy. Our farm. Our pizza shop. Maybe a little B&B with a quiet river running through it.
The fire is where we hatch our overly ambitious plans for home renovation projects.
We gather with friends around the fire. And it’s where I go when I need to be alone.
Fires are great for problem solving too. Ours, yours, the worlds.
But never arguments. That’s part of the fire’s magic too I suppose.
Sometimes we just watch the flames dance in an easy silence broken only by the snap and crackle of hot sap escaping the logs, captivated by the Rorschach-like parade of images in the glowing hearth.
I ran back to the house for the fixings for s’mores while Greg collected the dry twigs that peppered our lawn. When I returned to the fire Greg was scanning the woodpile for his perfect marshmallow stick. I reached for a slender, six-foot long maple branch. Greg didn’t approve on the basis that my stick was too long to be practical. The stick was slightly unwieldy, but I was smitten with the notion of roasting a marshmallow while reclining in my tired adirondack chair. I prefer to reserve “practical” for things like, well, for things that don’t involve marshmallows. Unfortunately, the tip of my roasting stick was nearly as thick as a marshmallow. “If you get me a utility knife, I’ll fix it for you,” Greg offered. The gentle glow of the fire deepened the lines on his face. He looked so serious. And so handsome.
I was back in a flash, and Greg got to work whittling the tip of my clumsy stick into a sharp point. It goes like this a lot with us. I get a half-baked idea. Greg does his best to talk me down using words like “practical”, “realistic”, and “sensible.” Sometimes he’s convincing, but when he’s not, he’s by my side as a loyal accomplice anyway. More important, he’s always there for me when my ideas don’t go exactly as planned, and I need someone to help me wash the marshmallow out of my hair.
And these nutty little biscuits are my thank you.
Hazelnut Brown Sugar Biscuits with Vanilla Bean Glaze
It’s a biscuit. It’s a scone. It’s a biscuit. You decide. The crumble is a riff on the dessert crumbs that are featured in Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. Consider making a double batch, it’s addictive stuff.
BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE:
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
3 tablespoons hazelnut oil (or melted butter)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 2/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour, plus additional for dusting the board (or all-purpose flour)
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold
1 cup milk or buttermilk
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup hazelnuts, toasted, skins removed, and roughly chopped
VANILLA BEAN GLAZE:
3 tablespoons buttermilk
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
pinch of salt
1 cup powdered sugar
BROWN SUGAR CRUMBLE:
- Preheat the oven to 300°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- In a medium bowl, combine the sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Add the oil and vanilla. Mix with a fork pressing the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Bring the crumble together with your hands and form small clusters. Sprinkle the clusters on the prepared sheet pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Stir once halfway through and break up the clusters. The crumble will harden as it cools. Let cool completely. Store in an airtight container for up to two weeks.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.
- Combine flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, cut in 6 tablespoons butter. Stir in the milk. Bring the dough together with your hands. You want a soft but not sticky dough.
- Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and knead for 30 seconds. Roll the dough out into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle, 10 x 12-inches. Spread the remaining, softened butter over the dough. Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar crumble over the butter, followed by the hazelnuts.
- Roll the long edge of the dough up, gently patting it as you roll so that it holds together. Lightly pinch the seam together and roll the finished log so that the seam is on the bottom. Cut the log into 1.5-inch thick slices. Lay the slices on the lined baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Give them a squeeze to tighten them up and shape them into rounds.
- Bake for 18-22 minutes, until lightly browned on tops and dark golden on the bottoms. Allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack.
- When completely cool, drizzle the vanilla bean glaze over the tops.
VANILLA BEAN GLAZE:
- While the biscuits are baking combine the milk and vanilla bean scrapings.
- When you’re ready to glaze the biscuits, whisk in the salt and powdered sugar until completely smooth.
Makes 8 biscuits.