Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Almond Joy Scones

Although I love cooking and baking all kinds of dishes, there are a handful of creations that I consider to be my specialties. Scones are definitely on that list. I have been making scones for years in many different varieties, from classic to inventive.

One of the things I love most about scones are that they are quick and easy to make, and as long as you follow some basic steps, and don't overwork the dough, they are pretty much foolproof. They are also simplest to make by hand without requiring special tools, although you can certainly use a mixer if you'd like.

Most people don't realize how easy the process is. Trust me, give it a shot and you'll be impressed. Last year when I visited friends and family in Los Angeles for a couple weeks, I decided to make a batch of chocolate chip scones with vanilla glaze one day, and by the time I left LA about a week and a half later, I had make over 80 scones! And I was on vacation! But they were really so easy to make and my friends/family loved them, so it wasn't even a hassle for me. They have repeatedly asked me to fly back to make them more :)

Last week in honor of Labor Day my colleagues and I participated in a pot luck at work. I decided to bring scones. The flavor? Almond Joy. I have been tweaking these particular scones and have reached what I consider to be the perfect balance of flavors. It contains just the right amount of chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut, with coconut milk as the main binder and a hit of amaretto for extra almond essence. I also use coconut milk and amaretto in the glaze, adding just a touch of extra sweetness to my perfectly delicate and moist scones.

What I like most about my basic scone recipe is that it's less sweet than many American versions. It really showcases the tender crumb that sets a great scone apart from all the rest. It's flaky and buttery with a nice golden crust and a wonderful display of Almond Joy-inspired flavor. If you're a fan of Almond Joy candy bars, or just a lover of that almond-coconut-chocolate combination, these scones are definitely for you!

Almond Joy Scones
Makes 12 to 16 (depending on size)

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
Pinch kosher salt
1 stick unsalted butter (1/2 cup), cold and cut into cubes
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips, chocolate chips, or chocolate chunks
1/3 cup sliced, slivered, or chopped almonds
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk, plus more for brushing
1 tablespoon amaretto
1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 tablespoon amaretto

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

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 chocolate chips, almonds, and coconut and toss well. Mix together the coconut milk, amaretto, and beaten egg and then add to the flour mixture and mix until just combined, kneading lightly (but don't overwork it).

Divide the dough in half and pat each portion into a 3/4-to-1-inch thick circle. Don't overwork the dough, as you want the butter inside to stay as cold as possible until the scones head into the oven.

Use a bench/dough scraper or knife to cut 6 or 8 wedges (like a pizza) from each round. 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. At this point, the scones can be refrigerated or even frozen and baked later. Frozen scones can be baked from a frozen state; just add a little extra baking time, as needed.

Lightly brush on top of the scones (but not the sides) with a little coconut milk. Bake scones for 15 to 20 minutes until lightly golden on top. Remove from the oven and allow the scones to cool on the pan while you prepare the glaze.

Stir together the confectioners' sugar, coconut milk, and amaretto until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add a sprinkle more confectioners' sugar. Too thick, add a drizzle of coconut milk. When scones are cool, drizzle the glaze over the tops. Allow the glaze to set briefly and then serve the scones at room temperature.


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