Sour Cherry Chocolate Scones

Cherry Chocolate SconesIn the “American” scone category, this one’s going to be tough to defeat. The epitome of a Yankee scone – large, slightly crumbly, buttery, chocked full of good stuff and baked with a sugary crust – it needs neither butter nor reheating to enjoy.

Sour Cherry Chocolate Scones
Adapted from “Baked” by Matt Lewis and Renato Poliafito
Makes 16 large scones

1 Large egg
¾ c. + ¼ c. Buttermilk or 1 c, whole milk + 1 T. White vinegar
1 t. Vanilla extract
1 Zest of lemon, finely grated
4 c. All-purpose flour
½ c. Sugar
1 T Baking powder
½ t. Baking soda
½ t. Kosher salt
1 ½ c Unsalted butter, cubed and very cold
¾ c. Dried sour cherries, softened in hot water, drained and chopped
½ c. Semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
¼ c. Sugar (use raw sugar if you have some on hand)
¼ c. Semi-sweet chocolate
1 t. Shortening

Chill a large bowl in freezer. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together the egg, ¾ c. buttermilk, vanilla extract and lemon zest. In a food processor, pulse together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Add cubed butter and pulse until the butter is pea sized. Transfer flour/butter mixture to the chilled bowl. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients slowly and gently knead until the dough just begins to come together. Add the cherries and chopped chocolate and gently knead to fully incorporate (but overwork the dough!). Move the dough to a lightly floured surface and shape into two disks about 1 ½ inches high. Freeze disks for 10 minutes.

Cut each disk into 8 wedges. Place the wedges onto to baking sheet, brush each with remaining buttermilk and sprinkle with sugar. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking time) or until scones are golden.

Cool on cooling rack completely. Melt chocolate and shortening in microwave and stir until smooth. Drizzle melted chocolate over each scone and allow chocolate to set.

Berry Almond Scones

Berry Almond SconesThis is my first selection  in the “American” scone category, not to be confused with the restrained British version. I acquired this recipe during my time at Culinary School. Our visiting chef claimed he developed them for a certain high-end store café – maybe Bloomingdale’s or Saks. I recall my previous disappointment with the final result, but decided they’d make a suitable initial recipe in the Ultimate Scone Smackdown.

With my increasing scone-savviness, I detected a few anomalies the instant I re-read the recipe. First, this recipe requires high-gluten bread flour when all recommendations suggest a low-gluten flour such as cake or pastry flour. Second, there’s no butter; it’s been replaced by heavy cream. Last, honey replaces a good portion of the sweetener. Should I doubt a trained and practicing pastry chef? Instead, I question my own competence. What’s the story?

As expected, the outcome was decent, but a tad too chewy and bread-like; not entirely my cup of tea – or should I say, “not to be served with my cup of tea.” If time allows, I’d like to revisit this recipe, switch out the bread flour for pastry flour and test the results.

So far, the British scones lead, but to be fair, I sampled them with heaps of clotted cream and strawberry jam – I’m sure a hamburger bun would have tasted delightful. Unadorned, they need a smidgen more sugar for this girl’s American palate.

Berry Almond Scones
Adapted from Chef Tom

16 oz. frozen blueberries, blackberries and chopped candied sliced almonds
1.75 lbs. (note – this is lbs. not cups) Bread flour Pastry flour?
3 oz. + 1 c. Sugar
3 T. Baking powder
1 t. Salt
1 Lemon zest, finely grated
3 c. + 1 c. Heavy Cream
4 oz. Honey

Heat oven to 425 (375 convection).

Combine flour, 3 oz. sugar, baking powder, salt and zest in a mixer with paddle. Add 3 c. cream, honey, and additions. Mix until ingredients just come together (don’t over mix).

Portion out by hand into desired size (I weighed mine at 3 oz. each).

Dip top of scone in 1 c. cream and then 1 c. sugar. Place sugar size up approximately 1.25” apart on parchment lined baking sheet. Bake approximately 15-20 minutes (10-15 convection).

Results Board

  1. British scones adapted from Cooks Illustrated
  2. Culinary school American Scones