Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tea Week: Scones

I love scones. They are easily one of my favorite baked goods for starting the day, or in this case for afternoon tea. While a simple traditional scone made well is perfection, I do have fun spicing things up and being creative in this department. For this occasion, I developed some Tipsy Cherry Scones. They're not quite drunk. Just a little tipsy ;-)

I saturated dried cherries with Kirschwasser, a cherry brandy, and then used more of the brandy in the scone dough, and also to create a lovely glaze with which to top these beauties. I have never been so in love with a scone before. I swear. Everyone who tried these said they were the best scones they've ever had (they disappeared in minutes), and I have made this recipe twice more since my original batch, and they were devoured like a lion destroys it's prey. But less bloody. We're civilized folk.

These scones are my pride and joy. So much so, in fact, that I decided to make a cooking video devoted to them. That's how much they rule. You're welcome. This is my first cooking video ever! I want to thank my sister for taping it for me. It was a fun experience, and I really hope I'm able to share more videos in the future. Please enjoy my debut, and let me know what you think :-D

Tipsy Cherry Scones
Makes about 8 to 12 scones (depending on size)

3/4 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup plus 2 T. Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 T. baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), cold and cut into cubes
1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup buttermilk or heavy cream, plus more for brushing

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1/2 T. Kirschwasser (cherry brandy)
1 T. milk
Red food coloring (optional)

Add dried cherries and 1/3 cup Kirschwasser to a small saucepan and heat over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally for about 7 minutes until the cherries are plump and all but a teaspoon or two of the liquid is absorbed. Set aside to cool.

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

If using an electric mixer: In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt on low speed until just mixed. Add cold butter cubes to the flour mixture and turn on mixer to medium for a few minutes until mixture resembles coarse pea or dime-size crumbs. Add cherries and residual liquid and turn on mixer again on very low just until the cherries lightly combine into the flour/butter mixture. Add the egg, 2 T. Kirschwasser, and buttermilk to the flour mixture on low until just combined or mix in by hand, kneading lightly (but don't overwork it).

If mixing by hand: In a large bowl combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add cold butter cubes to the flour mixture and work the butter into the flour mixture, using your fingers or a pastry cutter, until the mixture resembles coarse pea or dime-size crumbs. Be careful not to overwork the mixture or the butter will soften too much and the resulting scones will not be flaky. Add the cherries and residual liquid and toss well. Then add the egg, 2 T. Kirschwasser, and the buttermilk to the flour mixture and mix until just combined, kneading lightly (but don't overwork it).

Scrape dough onto a nicely floured large wooden cutting board or work surface. The dough may be sticky, so take extra care flouring your hands and the sides and top of the dough as well, lightly patting it flat and into a rectangle shape, or into 1 or 2 circles (1 for bigger scones, 2 for smaller scones) about 3/4-to-1-inch thick. Don't overwork the dough, as you want the butter inside to stay as cold as possible until the scones head into the oven.

Depending on your preference, you can use a round floured cookie or biscuit cutter to cut circles, or use a bench/dough scraper or knife to cut triangles (if shaping into circles, simply cut wedges like a pizza). Flip each cut scone over and place upside down on the parchment lined baking sheet (the bottoms are flatter and will look prettier as the tops of the scones), spacing a couple inches apart. Lightly brush on top of the scones (but not the sides) with a little heavy cream. Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden on top (baking time will be dependent on size of scones). Remove from the oven and allow the scones to cool on the pan while you prepare the glaze.

Stir together the confectioners' sugar, Kirschwasser, and milk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add a sprinkle more confectioners' sugar. Too thick, add a drizzle of Kirschwasser or milk. If desired, add a few drops of red food coloring to achieve a nice pink color. When scones are cool, drizzle the glaze over the tops. Allow the glaze to set briefly and then serve the scones at room temperature.

*Variation* Substitute the dried cherries with dried cranberries and/or substitute the Kirschwasser with Amaretto for a mild spiked almond flavor. Omit the red food coloring in the glaze.

Food coloring at Marché Adonis in Montreal (my favorite grocery store on Earth)... $1.99 for 50 mL (almost 2 oz), what a steal!


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