Thursday, May 6, 2010

Dried Cherry, Almond Scones

Scones! Oh, lovely scones! I first fell in love with you at The Brown Palace in Denver while having high tea and you still got me! OK- seriously The Brown in Denver really does make out of this world buttermilk scones served with crazy good devonshire cream and strawberry preserves. That and some black tea, with 1 sugar cube and a dash of milk and I'm in hog heaven. No where else I'd rather be. I've tried to make scones at home before using a pre made mix from King Arthur Flour. They did the job but were just not fantastic. Then, yesterday, I was watching Food Network when Anne Burell (the restaurant chef), bless her, made dried cherry almond scones. I watched as she combined the cream with the butter and flour mixture that was lightly scented by fresh lemon zest and cinnamon. I watched as she added in the dried cherries and sliced almonds, cut them into sweet triangles and dusted them generously with turbinado sugar. But what really did me in was her homemade "butter" she made to top the scones. Oh. my. gosh. I think it may actually taste better than devonshire cream. She basically whipped cream very high and longer than you do for whipped cream so as to "whip it back to butter". She drizzled in some honey and added fresh orange zest. Is everyone with me on this? These are going to be out of this world right??? Plus you can make and freeze the dough already cut out in the triangle shapes and just pop them in the oven when you are ready for a fresh scone. That's what I'm talking about.

I had to try out these scones so I decided I would make them for Mother Day. I would give my Mom a little package of fresh scones with the scented butter on Saturday night when I'm going to see her so she could have breakfast on me the next morning. Come to think of it, if you tucked a tea cup and tea or her favorite coffee in there it would really be a great idea.

I made these last night and they looked fabulous. They smelled awesome and the texture was amazing. The crunch of the turbinado sugar on top just makes it, so don't leave it out. It's worth the four bucks to buy the bag for these scones alone. OK, so my confession is that I didn't actually eat one. I can't because I'm on this dang no sugar cleanse. However, Jeremy, a scone aficionado tried one and said they were exceptional and he didn't even have the scented butter! Plus I tore into his scone to touch the inside to inspect and it was just lovely. Cakey, light, but the outside had some body and crumbly bite. I put some already made, not yet baked ones in the freezer for me and the second I'm done with this cleanse, I'm eating one over tea! You my dear friends, thankfully don't have to wait that long.

Dried Cherry, Almond Scones
Adapted from Anne Burell

3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 lemon zested (I did about half a lemon)
pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon (I used slightly less)
1 1/2 sticks cold butter, cut into small cubes
1 cup dried cherries
1/2 cup toasted sliced almonds
1/2 cup heavy cream (I needed more like 3/4 cup)
Turbinado sugar for garnishing
Honey butter, recipe follows

Preheat your oven to 375 degrees
In a food processor, combine the flour, sugar. baking powder, lemon zest, salt and cinnamon and process to combine, just a couple seconds. Add in the butter and run the machine until the butter is distributed evenly throughout (it will look like your starting flour mixture, only a tad clumpier) Dump mixture into a bowl and add the cherries and almonds. Add the heavy cream and combine in into the butter flour mixture. Adding more cream if necessary, a tablespoon at a time until you can squeeze the dough in your fist and it holds the shape. It will be slightly crumbly, but should be able to hold together well. If it doesn't, add more cream and mix it in.

Dump the dough out onto your counter and form it into a ball. Press down on the ball of dough evenly to create a 1 inch thick disk, then cut it (like a pizza) into 6-8 equal wedges. 6 for large scones, 8 for smaller. Sprinkle each wedge generously with turbinado sugar and give it a little pat on top so it sticks to the dough better. Transfer the wedges to a parchment lined sheet pan (I didn't use parchment paper) and bake in the preheated oven for 17 to 18 minutes, turning the pan halfway through, to ensure even browning. Serve warm with honey butter.

Honey Butter

1/2 pint cold heavy cream
2 tablespoons honey
1 orange zested

In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, add all ingredients and whip on high speed until the cream starts to clump and turn light yellow. Continue mixing as butter forms and the buttermilk begins to separate out which will take a little longer than 10 minutes. Scrape sides and continue mixing until is one lump of butter. The butter will all clump to the mixer whisk and there will be a big puddle of buttermilk below. Place butter into a clean container or serving dish and store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

These scones are light, slightly crumbly, gloriously cakey and moist when served fresh from the oven. If baked ahead of time and allowed to sit out they are more dense and crumbly and still delicious. If you want to make them ahead of time and keep them in the freezer until ready to use, just do everything, even adding the turbinado sugar on top, then place the individual wedges in a freezer zip lock bag, careful to keep a little space between each one and freeze on a flat surface. When you are ready they can go straight from the freezer onto a sheet pan and bake.

If you don't have a food processor, you can just combine all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and when you add in the bits of cold butter, just smash them throughout the dough with your fingers. It's more time consuming, but it will work. Also, if you don't have cream for the scone dough, you can substitute for half and half or buttermilk. Cream is lovely though. Also, I said it once and I'll say it again, the turbinado sugar makes this really special so I really do recommend buying it. It was in the baking aisle of my grocery store and you can use it for topping any number of baked goods, strudels and cakes or for just using in your morning coffee.

You will get such a kick out of making the butter. It tastes delicious and is a great chemistry lesson!


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    Aunt Jenny

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