This time of year I take advantage of the access to fresh cranberries by subbing them for the dried or jellied versions when possible. This recipe for fresh cranberry chocolate scones is an adaptation of my standard scone recipe that I usually use with dried fruit – currants, golden raisins, cherries, or dried cranberries.
Scones originate with the culinary fare of Scotland, Ireland and England and are linked to the Welsh tradition of cooking small yeast cakes on bake stones and griddles.
Although scones are not a part of the usual Thanksgiving fare, they certainly are lovely with a cup of tea or coffee any time of day.
Did I mention that traditionally scones are not laden with lots of sugar? For American taste buds, think more about the sweetness of a biscuit rather than those sweet, frosting covered scones found at the market and coffee shops.
Originally, scones were made with oats, shaped into a large round that was cut into wedges. More often these days, classic scones are made with flour and use currants or raisins and are eaten plain or smeared with clotted cream or preserves.
This version capitalizes on fresh, tart cranberries and also calls for chocolate – a combo I adore. I eat them plain – no extra cream, preserves or butter.
One other fact I must mention, scones are best when freshly baked. The recipe below makes a dozen or 14 wedges. If you want to freeze some to bake later, see the instructions about flash-freezing below.
Tidbits on Cranberries:
- Cranberries are closely related to blueberries, lingonberries and cowberries.
- Cranberries are tested for firmness by their bounce, which explains why they are also referred to as “bounceberries.” Those that do not bounce are discarded.
- Cranberries stay fresh longer than other berries because they have a waxy skin.
Fresh Cranberry Chocolate Scones
Makes 12 or 14 (3 inch scones)
Fresh cranberries make these scones standout, although they are also delicious using the dried version.
Coarsely chop cranberries – o not overly chop by hand/food processor. It’s a nice surprise to the palate to get a chunk of cranberry.
Baking – the placement of the wedges on the baking sheet will yield different results in the scone texture – softer or crustier scones.
1 cup fresh cranberries*, coarsely chopped
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1 oz dark chocolate, chopped**
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into pieces
1 egg, beaten
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 egg white
Flour for dusting surface
1 tablespoon sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Coursely chop cranberries by hand or use a food processor. In a small bowl, add cranberries and brown sugar; stir to coat. Set aside. Coursely chop chocolate. Set aside.
- In a large bowl (or in a food processor pulse),whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender or two knives, until the largest pieces of butter are the size of small peas and the mixture resembles coarse meal. (Transfer to large bowl if using a processor) Add the cranberries and chocolate.
- In a separate small bowl, whisk egg and mix in heavy cream. With a spatula or a fork, add egg mixture to flour mixture and stir until just combined – barely starting to form a ball. Dump onto a lightly-floured surface and with lightly-floured hands divide into 2 balls; lightly pat each into rounds (about 1 inch-thick, 6 inch diameter rounds). (Minimize adding extra flour and overworking the dough – your scones will be lighter).
- Cut each round into 6 or 8 wedges. Brush with egg white and sprinkle lightly with sugar. Using a large spatula, carefully transfer wedges to baking sheet. Texture: for softer sided scones – allow wedges to touch or separate by ¼ inch (sides will not be as golden when cooked); for crustier scones – separate wedges on baking sheet by 1 1/2 inches.
- Bake for about 15 – 18 minutes, until the top of the scones turn lightly golden. Watch the bottoms do not overcook. Serve fresh from the oven and store in an airtight container.
Freezing unbaked scones: Freeze cut wedges uncovered on a cookie sheet in the freezer for about 2 hours. Once firm, put them in a freezer bag and return to the freezer. When ready to bake, remove from freezer, let them sit on the kitchen counter uncovered while the oven preheats. Place scones onto a fresh sheet of parchment paper and bake, adding an additional 3 to 5 minutes – watch closely the final few minutes.
*Cranberries: substitute with ½ cup dried cranberries and omit the brown sugar
**Chocolate: Approx. 1/3 – 1/2 cup dark bittersweet chocolate chips
Zest: add two teaspoons lemon or orange, in lieu or addition to chocolate.