If my blog has a philosophy besides “procrastination” and recording family recipes, it’s “Better baking through chemistry.” Everyone knows I am mad for Bisquick. Tonight I decided to explore my feelings for Crisco.
I recently read a fantastic kid’s book called PIE by Sarah Weeks. Crisco, or a facsimile thereof she calls “Lardo,” has a very important role in the plot, and not just because it appears in the crust of every pie recipe interspersed throughout the action.
I bought a set of three sticks of Crisco, meaning to try some of the recipes from the story. My Mom always uses Crisco to make her pie crusts, a habit I believe goes back to my Dad’s Aunt Vi, the best Yankee pie maker East of the Mississippi. Or at least that was her reputation in our family and her pies were beyond compare — especially the apple and blueberry. She lived on an apple orchard so that probably helped, but her kitchen was old fashioned and she wasn’t one to cut corners, so it was mostly practice and just plain skill. She wasn’t one of those mystery cooks who refuses to tell her secrets, thank God, because we owe her a delicious orange potato salad recipe too. For the record, my Mom always had a tub of Crisco in the cupboard but these sticks intrigued me. I always bake with Earth Balance. What would Crisco baking taste like?
The answer? Very much like you’d expect — like baking with lard. But good! It was super easy to get to the pea-sized grains you need for scones and biscuits, even though I didn’t chill it (I probably should have). The texture was lighter than other shortening but a dense, lardy taste. I love it!
I should have called them “chocolate biscuits” because they are closest to baking powder biscuits but I didn’t want to cause confusion with the traditional British chocolate biscuit, i.e, McVities etc.
Chocolate Walnut Crisco Scones
2 cups flour
3 teaspoons baking powder
1 cup unsweetened cocoa
A pinch of salt (or more to taste)
1/3 cup of Crisco (which is marked on the sticks)
1/2 cup powdered sugar (or more, if you like your scones sweet — these weren’t very sweet)
1/2 cup lactose-free milk (OK to use almond milk or coconut milk but I have read that soy milk doesn’t work and the fattier the milk you use, the better)
1/4 cup OJ
1 cup walnuts
1/2 cup Craisins (optional)
Preheat oven to 425.
Sift your dry ingredients together — except the sugar. Cut the Crisco into the dry ingredients until it forms tiny grains. Beat your egg with the confectioners sugar and milk. Add wet to dry — being careful not to over beat or you will make the scones tough. Add orange juice just to moisten, and nuts and dried cranberries if you like.
Put about two inch balls of the dough onto a no-stick cookie sheet. I also used parchment because I didn’t know what to expect, but I didn’t need it. I made some bigger than this but I think the smaller ones are ideal.
Bake about 10 to 12 minutes until scones are set. They bake fast! Keep an eye out. You can also roll them out and cut into shapes. These would also be delicious with turbinado sugar or a light glaze because they aren’t very sweet.
I served them with clotted cream from Fresh & Easy and the experience was sort of akin to a giant Oreo or the world’s richest whoopie pie.
Mom — I froze the rest of the batter so I can bake them up for you sometime, after Passover! You are going to complain that they aren’t sweet enough though. I like my scones that way. More of a pallet than a stand-alone pastry.