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June 16, 2005: Testing a theory

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Years ago, Starbucks used to sell a cinnamon chip scone. It was one of my very favorite breakfast treats - to go to Starbucks in the morning on the way to work and purchase a double tall, nonfat, no-foam latte and a cinnamon chip scone.

But then, back in 2002, for some reason known only to whoever it was in charge of pastry ordering for the corporate offices, Starbucks stopped carrying my scone. Oh, they tried to replace it with an apple cinnamon concoction, memorable only because the apple pieces were rubbery and not at all pleasant to chew. Eventually that disappeared from the menu entirely, since apparently I was not the only one who didn't see it as a decent replacement.

Starbucks in other areas of the country still carry cinnamon chip scones, but they are made by a different bakery, and they do not taste the same. I have looked in every bakery we have entered since then, but alas, nowhere have I ever found a suitable replacement. I even searched high and low for a recipe for the scones, but since the recipe surely had to involve cinnamon chips, and since cinnamon chips weren't something I had ever seen before, I figured that was a lost cause.

Then, a few months ago, while searching for toffee chips in the baking aisle at the grocery store, I spied something new. Hershey now makes cinnamon chips! I snatched a bag, emailed my sister (the budding pastry chef) for some likely scone recipes, and then sat back and pondered all the possibilities.

Last week I finally made cinnamon chip scones. But they were a little disappointing. For one thing, Hershey's cinnamon chips are not very cinnamony. And for another, for being little chips of disappointing flavor, they were unreasonably high in calories - Richard calculated out that there were 38 Points in the entire bag of chips, and the recipe called for the full bag. Ouch. The scones themselves were tasty, but they just weren't worth all the caloric overload. And overall, the experiment was a bit of a disappointment. Richard brought the remainder of the scones to work (where one of his coworkers dubbed me the scone queen, or something like that), because they *were* good...but they just weren't what I was hoping they would be.

I have been mulling over the issue for the past week or so, pondering ways in which I could try again, this time with something with a bit more cinnamony kick (and a lot less guilt), and then I remembered the cinnamon ornaments I had made, years and years ago. It was all due to an article I found in some random magazine that listed a bunch of lovely holiday crafts one could do with children. As I recall, this same article also had a recipe for peppermint ribbon candy that it claimed was so easy even kids could do it. We will not discuss the disaster that ensued when college-aged women attempted to make ribbon candy.

The cinnamon ornaments, however, were a different story. You mixed up huge quantities of cinnamon with a little applesauce, then rolled it out and cut it into shapes. Let them dry, drill holes in one end, and poof, you had lovely holiday-shaped ornaments that exuded a pleasant cinnamon scent. Or rather, you *would* have had lovely holiday shaped ornaments if they were made by someone who was a wee bit more artistic; my stars turned out a little lumpy and misshapen. But they did smell nice, and I strung them on some red ribbon and they were hung near the door for a few years. Eventually they disappeared, however, and I'm not sure what happened to them. But remembering those ornaments, it occurred to me that the dough could surely be made a bit thinner, and then one could take a large mallet or hammer to them once dried, and smash them into teeny nearly calorie-free bits, which could then be used as, perhaps, a suitable substitute for Hershey's disappointing barely cinnamon flavored things.

A quick internet search revealed that the cinnamon ornament has been listed in far too many children's craft sites to count, but basically, the general recipe is that you mix one part powdered cinnamon with one part unsweetened applesauce, stir it into a dough, and have happy shaping fun. So yesterday, since I had the time, I decided to give my theory a shot. I mixed cinnamon and applesauce together (it's a messy endeavor because cinnamon, in large quantities, tends to poof over the sides of the bowl no matter how carefully you try to stir), then spread it out as thin as I could onto some parchment paper on a big baking sheet. I preheat the oven to a low temperature, popped the pan in, and then turned the oven off, since all I wanted to do was dry them quickly. That was yesterday evening.

This morning I removed the (mostly) dry cinnamon stuff from the oven, and broke it into little chunks. Then I dragged out the recipe and did a few more substitutions, like swapping half the white flour for whole wheat flour (because we are all about the fiber, yes we are).

The good news is that with my homemade cinnamon applesauce 'chips' and the whole wheat flour, I literally cut the total number of Points in the recipe by half. The bad news is that the scones still need work. And I'm not so sure that my rather primitive cinnamon chip recipe is necessarily the best. But at least these taste pretty good with a little apple butter, and the whole experience has been kind of fun. And the house still smells rather strongly of cinnamon, but in a nice, comforting sort of way.

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