Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Fresh Cherry-Almond Scones

I consider scones to be a specialty of mine. I have come up with a base recipe that works, and tweak the flavors to suit my desires as well as the seasons. I recently went to a 4th of July party at a neighbor's house, and decided to bring some scones along. Since summer is abound in fresh fruits, I decided to pit and chop some fresh cherries instead of using dried cherries as I have on many occasions in the past.

Almonds are a great compliment to cherries, so I added some amaretto to the dough as well as the glaze, and decided to use the glaze as an adhesive for some sliced almonds on top of the scones, instead of mixing them into the dough like I do with my Almond Joy scones.

This was a fun spin on my usual M.O. The result is a delectably tender-crumbed scone bursting with fresh cherry flavor, laced with aromatic amaretto, with a bit of crunch from a shower of sliced almonds over the top.

Regardless of the occasion or non-occasion, these scones are a great way to start your summer days alongside a cup of coffee or tea.

Fresh Cherry-Almond 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
3/4 cup pitted, roughly chopped fresh cherries
1/4 cup buttermilk, heavy cream, or milk, plus more for brushing
2 tablespoons amaretto
1 large egg, beaten

1/2 cup confectioners' sugar
1 tablespoon milk or buttermilk
1/2 tablespoon amaretto
Sliced almonds, for garnish

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 cherries and toss well. Mix together the buttermilk, 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 buttermilk, milk or cream (whatever you have). Bake scones for 18 to 22 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, amaretto, and milk until smooth. If the glaze is too thin, add a sprinkle more confectioners' sugar. Too thick, add a drizzle of milk. When scones are cool, drizzle the glaze over the tops, and immediately sprinkle some sliced almonds over each scone (you may want to glaze/sprinkle one scone at a time so the glaze doesn't set too fast before adhering the almonds to the top). The glaze will act as a glue, and the almonds will stick to the top. Allow the glaze to set and then serve the scones at room temperature.


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