Hye Thyme Cafe: Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme

Welcome to the Hy
e Thyme Cafe. Although not all of my recipes are Armenian, the name is a little nod to my Armenian grandmother who is no longer with us. The Hye refers to all things related to her homeland, and she represents all things food-related to me, so the two just seemed to go together. I can't even claim that my Armenian recipes are truly Armenian, since Greece, Turkey, Armenia, Lebanon, Syria, and even Egypt share so many foods that they've all sort of morphed into one over thousands of years.

Whether you like to cook, bake, have never done either, or just like to play with your food...come on in and join me! :)

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme

Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme : Hye Thyme Cafe

I baked a few batches of Choreg a while back and had some leftover mahlab that I wanted to use up while it was still good. If you're not familiar with mahlab, it's actually the inside of a pit from the St. Lucie Cherry. It has a warm, almost nutty flavor, said to resemble a combination of almond and cherry, like marzipan, although that's not what my taste buds bring to mind. I can't really describe it, but if you were ever around a kitchen with a batch of Choreg baking, chances are the aroma would draw you in like a magnet. I haven't found a local source for mahlab, so I order it online through Massis Bakery. It arrives whole, and I grind it in my spice mill as needed.

Thinking about Baraze, Lebanese cookies that include both mahlab and pistachios, gave me the idea to incorporate them into a scone, since I've also had scones on the brain lately. When it comes to the Pistachio Creme, when it first hit my tongue, I thought uh oh, too salty, but then the cream and powdered sugar quickly balanced that out, and I quite enjoyed it. If you are particularly sensitive to salt, you can either give the pistachios to be used in the creme a quick rinse, or completely soak them to reduce the salt.

My preference is to use pistachios that are still in their shell - both for their color and because it's easier to remove the skins. I have found that when purchasing already shelled pistachios for baking, they tend to be a darker roast, and the skins are more difficult to remove. With the in-shell pistachios, I shelled them all, then rubbed them by the handful to remove the dry outer skins. Don't stress over breaking a nail shelling them - reserve one of the shells to use like a can opener - just insert it into a tight shell and twist to pop it open. Because the pistachios come salted, I did not include salt in the recipe.

2 1/2 c flour
3 T baking powder
1/4 c sugar
1 T ground mahlab
2 eggs (+1 for egg wash)
1 stick butter
1/2 c heavy cream
1 lb in-shell pistachios (divided)
Coarse sanding sugar (optional)

3 oz cream cheese, softened
2 T confectioner's sugar
1/3 c heavy cream
1/2 lb pistachios

  1. Shell all of your pistachios, then rub them to remove as much of the outer skin as possible. Measure out 2c and rough chop them for the scones, then process the rest into a paste using a spice mill/coffee grinder or a mortar and pestle; set aside.
  2. Sift or whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, and mahlab.
  3. Cut in the butter until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, then stir in the cream, eggs, and pistachios just until the dough comes together.
  4. Pat out to about 1" thick on a flour-dusted surface, then slice or use cutters to shape, and transfer to a parchment-lined tray.
  5. Beat the remaining egg and brush over the tops of the scones, then sprinkle with the sanding sugar (optional).
  6. Bake at 350 for about 20" until golden.
  7. For the pistachio creme, beat together the cream cheese, confectioner's sugar, and cream until smooth and fluffy, then blend in the pistachio paste.
Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme : Hye Thyme Cafe

Pistachio-Mahlab Scones with Pistachio Creme : Hye Thyme Cafe

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