Scones: white chocolate, dry apricot/cranberry and orange zest

I feel that scones are one the most misunderstood and misinterpreted  baked goods out there.  Scones… a British baked ‘thing’, usually served with coffee, usually prepackaged, and usually so dry that need to dunk it in something to make it palatable.

Scones, done right, may be one of the best baked items you may ever have.  To have them made correctly is an eye-opener!  Flaky, not too sweet, bursting with natural dry fruit flavor, citrus essence, and really delicious.

Not at all hard to make.  In fact, I think cookies are harder to make.

The key to scones, just like pie dough, is:

1. Keep the butter cold!

2. Do not overwork the dough!

Follow those two rules and it’s hard to fail.  For my version, I love the combination of dry apricots and white chocolate.  Dry cranberries and orange zest is another combination that always works, so why not pair the two together?  Flavor comes from the fruit.  Rich, yet light and flaky texture from the dough.

If you must bake something, and there comes the time when we all must, consider putting this at the top of your list!

Dry apricot, white chocolate, dry cranberry and orange scones

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 tbsp sugar (for finishing)
1 stick unsalted butter, very cold
3/4 cup heavy cream, cold
2 tbsp heavy cream (for finishing)
1 large egg, cold
1/2 cup white chocolate nibs
1/2 cup diced apricots
1/4 cup dry cranberries
zest of 2 oranges

Method:

Heat an oven to 375.  Have a parchment lined well greased baking pan ready (grease the parchment as well, pam works the best).

Put a box grater and the butter in the freezer for 10 minutes.   Remove and using the box grater, grate the butter into pea size pieces.  Mix all dry ingredients and add the butter.  Work with your fingertips, massaging the butter into the flour.

Lightly beat the egg and the cream together.  Add the wet to the dry, and again gently massage the wet into the dry.  DO NOT OVERWORK.  It is okay if there are a few lumps.  Over working develops the glutens, which make the dough tough and dry.  Add the chocolate, dry fruits and orange zest.  Lightly and gently fold until incorporated.  Mound the dough into a rounded disk on the greased baking pan, about 8 inches in diameter.  Cut the raw dough into six wedges, but don’t separate the wedges.  Just like slicing a pizza, all you want to do is make the cuts.  Using a pastry brush, brush the heavy cream on all exposed sides.  Sprinkle the reserved sugar over the top.  Bake for about 45 min, or until cooked through (toothpick test works the best).

Let cool slightly, serve right away.

I also like to sprinkle sliced almonds over the top before baking, just for one more element.  Serve with a cup a full bodied coffee, maybe some macerated strawberries and a dollop of creme chantilly (whipped cream with vanilla).

Enjoy.

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