Thursday, December 22, 2016

Cherry-Hazelnut Cream Scones...

These classic bakery treats are a cinch to make at home and perfect for a casual morning goodie or an entertaining weekend brunch but also to gift. With the Christmas holidays in full swing, these have always been my favourite to bake up and share-- for my neighbours, my kids' teachers and school bus drivers. This fabulous base cream recipe allows you to dream up unlimited flavours and texture combinations. This year I've got hazelnuts for crunchy contrast to the soft yield of the scone and chewy tart dried cherries for the festive bling! And I have to say, has been a big hit with everyone so far!

Cherry-Hazelnut Cream Scones
Makes 8 scones

3/4 cup plus 1 Tbsp. cold 35% heavy cream (I know, but cream makes the scones real tender)
1 large egg
2 cups all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled), plus more for work surface
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and place in freezer for five to 10 minutes.
2/3 cup dried cherries, coarsely chopped (or use dried cranberries)-- buy them at a bulk store
1/3 cup roasted hazelnuts, coarsely chopped
Coarse or sanding sugar
Optional: 1/4 tsp. lemon oil or 1 Tbsp. lemon zest

To Roast Hazelnuts: Preheat oven to 325F. Spread nuts out on a baking sheet. Toast until lightly golden and fragrant, 8 to 12 minutes. Stir halfway through. Leave oven on. Wrap nuts in a kitchen towel and let steam for one minute. Then rub hazelnuts in towel to remove skin. When nuts are completely cool, coarsely chop.

Preheat oven to 400F. Whisk together 3/4 cup cream and egg, then lemon oil or zest if using. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, and salt.

Cut cold butter into flour mixture until it resembles coarse meal, with a few pea-size pieces of butter remaining (I use my fingers for this). Stir in cherries and hazelnuts. With a fork, stir in cream mixture until just combined. TIP: Cold butter makes the scones flaky!

The dough should be crumbly; do not overwork.

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface and pat into a 6-inch circle. Cut into eight wedges and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush tops with cream and sprinkle with sugar, if desired. Bake until golden, 16 to 18 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through.

Cook's NOTE: Scones are best eaten the day they're baked. To work ahead, freeze unbaked scones in a single layer, then store in zip-top bag, up to two months; brush frozen scones with cream, sprinkle with sugar and bake at 375F for 25 minutes.

Love those bulging tart cherries!

And my favourite go-to scone-- Lemon Cream Scones with Currants

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