This is a recipe that my Aunt Judy gave me. As I’ve said in posts before, she is a wonderful cook and used to have a catering business so she has lots of good recipes and tips to share! I have so many recipes of hers to cook my way through but this is the one I decided was right for this morning. I thought about making her babka dough, which my family always uses to make our holiday morning coffee cakes, but is also wonderful for making cinnamon rolls. Too bad I was running a bit short on time for cinnamon rolls today but they sure did sound good. I will get to that sweet dough recipe another day, don’t worry! 🙂 Browsing through other recipes filed under bread and brunch I came upon this scone recipe.
This recipe was originally called “Chocolate Chip Scones” but I decided to make a few modifications. You could certainly change up the add-ins (the chocolate and cranberries) as you desire. According to the recipe I used today, these scones are full of dark chocolate and cranberries! I love this combination! I feel like whenever I use cranberries I normally end up also using either orange juice or zest because I like the flavor combination so I figured why not do the same here! Delicious! Tart and sweet all at the same time. And did I mention each scones is coated by a confectioner’s sugar glaze? YUM! It is a thin coating and really adds the finishing touch to these scones. If you prefer not to use the glaze then by all means, skip it, they will still be delicious.
I hate when I buy a scone somewhere that looks so delicious and then I take a bit and realize it is DRY. These are not those scones. These are full of flavor and have a lot of moisture, lent by the half and half in the dough. Another way to ensure a moist scone is to NOT over bake them! I find that taking the temperature of sweet and quick breads is a more accurate way to really tell if they are done. Lean breads without a lot of fat and butter are done in the range of 180-190 degrees F while enriched breads (those will eggs, butter, etc.) are done right around 200 degrees F. Nothing worse than spending all that time putting together a baked good only to find that the middle is gummy and inedible. And if you go to “finish” baking this after it’s been cooled and cut, it never really works out. Believe me, I’ve tired!
So let’s start thinking about how to cut and bake these things. They sell special scone pans that have spots for you to press dough into to make perfect triangles but another single-purpose pan is the last thing I need in my kitchen. Besides, It’s really just as easy to simply cut wedges out of a square of dough or out of a circle of dough. I like to cook my scones in a cake ring, which as it turns out, is usually for so many things other than baking cakes! After you initially mix the dough, dump half into a cake ring and press lightly to even out the surface and to fill the bottom of the pan. Then, life the pan off and cut the dough diagonally across to make wedges the size of your liking. I like 6 or 8 wedges per circle. The cut dough is then transferred to a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silpat and the cake ring is replaced to keep the scones together while they are baking. After baking, the ring easily lifts off and the wedges separate with ease giving you your classic scones wedges. The problem that I ran into was that I only have one cake ring and this recipe make enough for two rings. So the second half i pat into a rough rectangle and cut into wedges. Next time, if I don’t use a cake ring, I will form it into a square instead of a rectangle so that my wedges will be more even. After the fact I realized that I could have used the ring from a spring-form pan instead of a second cake ring. Mental note for next time!
So which method did I prefer? I’m not sure. I think that the ones created in the cake ring are more uniform and ended up being a bit thicker. These are the ones that are more beautiful and professional looking I think. But the ones cut from the rectangle are beautiful in a rustic way and are a bit thinner which some people make like more because the ratio of scone to glaze. is suddenly tilted more towards the glaze. So both ways are excellent. I think I will continue to use the ring for part of the dough just because I like the presentation. The ones in the ring took a bit longer to bake (only because they were thicker I think) so depending on how you form yours, the cook time may vary.
Dark Chocolate Cranberry Scones
- 2 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup granulated white sugar
- 3/4 teaspoon fine kosher or sea salt
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 cup cold butter
- 1 cup roughly chopped dark chocolate (milk or semi-sweet if you prefer, or mini chocolate chips)
- 1 cup fresh or frozen cranberries, roughly chopped (if frozen run under cool water briefly before using)
- Zest of one medium or large orange
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup half and half (or whole milk)
- 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
- 5 tablespoons milk, or enough to make a thin glaze
- 1 teaspoon vanilla (can use almond if desired or this can be omitted)
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk together all the dry ingredients.
- Grate the butter into the dry ingredients using the large holes of a box grater. OR cut into small chunks
- Mix together with hands just until the mixture is unevenly crumbly; it’s OK for some larger chunks of butter to remain unincorporated.
- Stir in the chocolate, cranberries and orange zest
- In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla or other flavor, and 1/2 cup half and half or milk.
- Add the liquid ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until all is moistened and holds together. Stir in additional milk or half and half if the dough seems dry, and doesn’t come together.
- TO FORM SCONES USE ONE OF TWO METHODS:
- Scrape the dough onto a well-floured work surface. Pat/roll it into an 8″ to 8 1/2″ square, a scant 3/4″ thick. Make sure the surface underneath the dough is very well floured. If necessary, use a giant spatula to lift the square, and sprinkle more flour underneath. Cut the square into 8 squares and then cut each square diagonally in half to make 16 wedges total (cut another time in half for smaller scones- diagonally the opposite way through the original squares). Transfer pieces to a parchment or silicone mat lined sheet pan. Pieces can be placed very close together, even touching is fine.
- Alternately, scrape the dough onto a well-floured surface. Divide the dough in half and pat each half into a rough circle. Then, press each circle into a cake ring evenly (you can also use the ring from a spring form pan for this). Lift the cake ring and cut each circle into 6 or 8 wedges. Transfer the pieces to a parchment or silicone mat lined sheet pan and replace the cake ring around each. You may need two sheet pans to do this if you rings won’t fit side-by-side
- For best texture and highest rise, place the pan of scones in the freezer for 30 minutes, uncovered. While the scones are chilling, preheat the oven to 425°F.
- Bake the scones for 19 to 20 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. If you are unsure of doneness, you can use an instant read thermometer: they should be right around 200 degrees F in the middle when done. When split open while hot, they should appear moist but not gummy.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and allow the scones to cool right on the pan. If desired, when they’re cool, cut each scone in half once again (be careful not to cut your silicone mat). Mini scones like this are a good idea if you’re feeding a crowd or hosting a brunch. Don’t be too particular here; in fact, if the scones are already a size you like, don’t bother to cut them again. But if you decide to cut, don’t stress about making them all the same size, or perfect triangles; trust us, no one but you will care once they’re glazed and on the table.
- Make the glaze by sifting together the sugar, milk, and vanilla. Sifting is important to make a smooth glaze. Add more or less milk to get the consistency you would like. If it gets too thin simply add more sifted sugar.
- Now you’re going to coat each scone with glaze. You can dip each one individually or line a baking sheet (with sides) with parchment, and pour about half the glaze atop the parchment. Set the scones atop the glaze, swirling them around a bit to coat their bottoms. Then drizzle the remaining glaze over the top. Use a pastry brush to brush the glaze over each scone, to coat it entirely. The glaze is very thin, so this is easily done. This method is especially useful if you’re making mini scones.
- Transfer the scones to a rack set over parchment, to catch any drips. As you pick each scone up, run its sides over the glaze in the bottom of the pan, both to use up some of the extra glaze, and to make sure all sides are coated.
- Allow the glaze to set before serving or storing the scones.
Nom Nom Nom. I think I would like to try this recipe with strawberries sometime too. I read that you can puree 1/2 cup of fresh hulled strawberries and mix that right into the dough along with chopped strawberries. It may be necessary to cut back on the added milk a bit in order to do this but that’s easy because you add the milk as you need it when you are bringing this dough together. Just some more food for thought… These are great while they are still warm and at room temperature! Thanks for another great recipe Aunt Judy!!! xoxoxo