manchego and quince paste scones

I tried to make quince paste from scratch once.  I was one of those Epic Kitchen Fails.  A pride goeth before a fall moment, kind of like every time I manage to leave the house looking like a professional (instead of a 28 year old college student), only to rip my skirt or drop coffee all over my lap before I make it to work. 

I was a little too pleased with myself over the prospect of homemade membrillo, visions of cheese plates and sparkling silver dinner parties dancing though my head, to notice that while I was busy snapping photos of my trophy quinces, the spread itself was turning a frightening shade of black as it scorched both my pan and the wall behind my stove. 

Fortunately for all of us, I reached for a tub of already prepared quince paste last weekend to make these scones.  The inspiration here comes from an almond-quince scone I had last week at Ula Café in J.P., minus the almond part with lots of manchego cheese instead.  It’s sweet-salty treat, or “swalty” as it’s known in my house.

Manchego is a traditional Spanish sheep’s milk cheese that’s hard like romano, but much more mild and pleasantly nutty/grassy.  It’s magic (like most cheeses) with bread and membrillo or fig spread.  Pour a glass of wine, light a few candles, and the Christmas spirit will be yours. 

In the unlikely event that you find yourself with any leftover manchego, you can bake a batch of buttery, crisp, salty, cheesy scones with an oozing layer of quince paste sandwiched in the middle.  You know, if you’re into that kind of thing. 

Serve them for brunch or cut them small and pass them (with the aforementioned glass of wine) as a tasty pre-dinner snack. 

One Year Ago: Winter Squash Laksa with Ginger and Tomatoes.

Makes 12 breakfast sized scones, or 24 hors d’oeuvres size scones. 

Manchego and Quince Paste Scones

  • 5 oz / 140g quince paste, also called membrillo
  • 2 ¼ cups + 2 tbsp / 340g all purpose flour
  • ½ tbsp baking powder
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ½ cup + 1 tbsp / 125g unsalted butter, cold and cubed
  • 3 oz / 85g coarsely grated manchego cheese
  • ½ cup / 110g buttermilk, plus a little extra for brushing
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • Sea salt for sprinkling (optional)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Place the quince paste in a small bowl and mix to soften then set aside.  Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and butter in the bowl of a food processor and pulse a few seconds to cut in the butter – do not over-mix.  You want the butter somewhere between the size of oatmeal peas. 

Transfer the flour mixture to a large mixing bowl and add the cheese, buttermilk, and egg.  Mix with your hand until a dough forms. 

Transfer the dough to a well-floured surface and pat it into a rectangle.  Roll to about 16 inches wide by 8 inches deep.  Using your hands or an offset spatula, spread the quince paste lengthwise across one side (about 4 inches) of the scones.  Fold the other side over the quince paste and, using a chef’s knife, trim the ends.  Cut into 12 equal triangles.  (To make hors d’oeuvres size scone, cut the rectangle in half lengthwise before you cut it into triangles – you should have two 4 inch by 16 inch rectangles, each of which can be cut into 12 triangular scones.)  Place the scones on a parchment lined sheet pan and bake 15 to 17 minutes until golden brown.  Rotate the scones half way through cooking.  Serve warm or room temperature.  Scones are best eaten the day they are made, but any leftovers can be warmed in a 300 degree oven 8-10 minutes.

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