Monday, November 19, 2007

Sweet on Rosemary

Cool winds strummed gently through the woody rosemary stems, waving them away from hand snips. The bush, slightly out of control, barely acquiesced in my attempt to tame it.

When I finally headed back inside, it was with a generous armful of fragrant sprigs. Some would be put to use with roasted potatoes, while others would join roasting chickens. Inevitably, there would be some leftover. While they could be frozen, something deep inside was twitching and itching: what would happen should the worlds of baking and herbology unite?

There had been several more-or-less successful experiments with brownies. The herb made such an interesting counterpoint to the rich sweetness, I was certain it would be at home in other baked goods. Luckily, Martha and her ever-growing omni-pire had just printed a sweet potato biscuit recipe in Everyday Food.

With sweet potatoes and rosemary at the ready, I soon had a piping hot batch of woodsy-scented orange beauties at my disposal. The texture was buttery and soft, tasting just as delicious as they smelled. They were fantastic with a smear of maple butter, and the few that remained stayed moist well into the next day.

With Thanksgiving appetizer duty just around the corner, it was time to whip up something seasonal, and with a decidedly Southern flair. Another batch was promptly baked up, sized just right for the hors d’oeuvre tray. Cut in half and stuffed with prosciutto, they were wrapped in tin foil, then tucked into a warm oven.

As guests began to file in, I set them out in a covered basket. The little pile of orange biscuits, flecked with rosemary and filled with dry-cured ham, quickly whittled away to nothing, as everyone mingled and relaxed. A little sweet, a little salty, a little savory: such are the warm and welcome pleasures best shared with family and friends.

Rosemary- Sweet Potato Biscuits

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary (may begin with 1 teaspoon, and adjust)
6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter
3/4 cup chilled sweet potato puree
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 egg yolk + 1 tablespoon heavy cream, mixed
Individual rosemary leaves

To make sweet potato puree:
Bake/boil/microwave potatoes until soft. Peel, mash and cool.

To make the dough:
In a large bowl, whisk together 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon baking soda and 2 teaspoons minced rosemary. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter (cut into pieces) until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-size lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup chilled sweet potato purée and 1/3 cup buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not overmix).

To shape the biscuits:
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than once).

Baking the biscuits:
Preheat oven to 425°, with rack on lower shelf. Butter or spray an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan. Brush tops with yolk-cream mixture, and press on a rosemary leaf. Bake until golden, rotating once, 20 to 24 minutes.

Yield: 8 larger biscuits.
Adapted from Everyday Food, November 2003
Notes: These biscuits are great on their own, or slathered with maple butter. Alternately, once the biscuits have baked and cooled, split in half and stuff with prosciutto or ham. If you like, add in a dab of sharp mustard before putting halves back together. Wrap in tin foil and bake in a low oven until just warmed through. Serve immediately.


Blogger Kevin said...

Those sound great, and my first reaction was, "Perfect for thinly sliced country ham."

8:31 AM  
Blogger Deborah Dowd said...

OMG! Those biscuits look and sound delicious! And is there anything more southern than a good ham biscuit? Well, maybe gree-uts!

7:46 PM  
Blogger iamchanelle said...

oh yummy. and pretty. and did i say yummy?

10:51 PM  
Blogger where i live said...

they look delicious. i wonder if i can make a vegan version....

10:45 PM  

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