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In 1995, a group of British historians found a 9,000 year old nut processing pit on the island of Colonsay in Scotland. The nut of choice? Hazelnuts. Just a few years ago an even older house was found near Northumberland in England. What was scattered all over the floor? Roasted hazelnuts.
Now I'm not saying that we should go all Paleo-diet and start copying our Mesolithic ancestors by stuffing our faces 24/7 with hazelnuts, but they did make some cool pottery and could make tools out of flint. I can't even twist my towel into a swan.
In fact, according to the BBC, we wouldn't know half of what we do about this particular era if it weren't for the fact that our newly farming friends were eating hazelnuts all the time. From the nuts, archeologists were able to learn about Mesolithic eating, building, and living habits, in addition to using the shells for carbon-dating.
In short, hazelnuts have really been flying under the radar in terms of being recognized for their historical significance. I'm personally doing my part to remedy this situation by making chocolate hazelnut scones and then forcing everyone to listen to my hazelnut history in return for breakfast.
I think it's a fair trade, because I'm imparting knowledge and scones filled with chunks of dark chocolate and chopped toasted hazelnuts. To show the versatility of hazelnuts, I also used hazelnut flour, which has a warm, nutty flavor and slightly coarse texture. I like making these scones with dark, almost bitter chocolate, but milk chocolate wouldn't be a bad idea (especially if you love Nutella.) Finally, a sprinkling of sugar before baking gives the scones a sweet, crackly crunch.
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About the author: Carrie Vasios is the Community Manager of Serious Eats and writes the Wake and Bake, Cookie Monster, and Serious Entertaining columns. She likes perusing her large collection of cookbooks while eating jam from the jar.