My friend and colleague Claudia invited me and my kids for a tea party at her new house, which is on the water.
My beautiful friend Claudia
Mirna, who was also coming, said "Ninette will bring scones!"
She was kidding, but then again, she doesn't know who she's dealing with.
Or, to the contrary, she knows exactly who she's dealing with.
Mirna and I doing what we do, which is laughing.
I've never made scones. The first time I ever heard of or had scones was many years ago at the parents' house of my friend James McGill. He and his wife were married at the house, and the next morning, they had a lovely buffet spread which included scones, clotted cream, and jams. I never forgot my first bite of those tender, buttery scones.
At James' wedding where I first had scones. Can you tell how long ago this was? Look at my shoulder pads! LOL. Answer: it was 1993.
Since then, I've had an assortment of things parading under the name of scones that were awful. Flavorless, dry, and hard as a rock. Ew.
With some trepidation, I went about making this test batch of scones. Would these be a home run or a cratering disappointment?
These scones definitely took first place as the best I've ever had. And I think the ladies who drink tea agree.
Claudia's tea party posse
1) The inspiration for this recipe came from Thibealt's Table.
2) In different recipes I looked at, the butter could be as much as 2 sticks of butter. I liked this recipe as it only used 6 tbs., which did the job.
3) Cold butter is key, because when those little pearls of butter melt in the oven, the steam they generate results in lovely pockets of air and thus tender scones. I grated frozen butter into the flour mixture and then stuck the bowl into the freezer as an extra precaution.
4) Liquids in scone recipes included whipping cream, heavy cream, buttermilk, milk, and sour cream. I decided to use a mixture of half and half and sour cream, and it worked out great.
5) After adding the liquid, the dough seemed so crumbly that it wouldn't hold together, but then a few quick kneads got it to hold together enough so I could shape it and cut it.
6) Scones can include any number of flavorings. I used chocolate chips, but fresh, frozen, or dried fruits, nuts, cheese, etc. are all game. The sky's the limit!
7) I think scones are best when they're freshly baked, although I'm sure they can be heated up later or eaten at room temperature.
8) This time around I grated frozen butter, and I thought it was a bit of a pain. Next time I will use my food processor.
Chocolate Chip Scones
2 cups flour
1/2 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tbs. cold butter (frozen if you're going to grate it)
1/2 cup sour cream
1/2 cup half and half
3/4 cup chocolate chips
Extra cream and sugar (sugar in the raw or turbinado sugar preferred)
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Mix the flour, sugar, baking, powder and salt together. Measure sour cream and half and half and put back in the fridge. Measure chocolate chips and put in the fridge too.
Grate frozen butter into the flour mixture and mix together (or you can cut the butter into smaller pieces and mix together with the pastry cutter until the flour resembles coarse meal). If butter is getting soft, stick the whole bowl in the fridge until it hardens up again. If using food processor, pulse the flour mixture and butter which you've cut into smaller pieces together until it resembles coarse meal).
Prepare the place you're going to knead and cut the dough into wedges by lightly flouring it. I usually use a Silpat silicone mat. Have a little extra flour on hand for your hands.
Mix the chocolate chips into the flour mixture and then add all the sour cream/half and half mixture, mixing with a fork as much as you can. If necessary, use your floured hand to press the dough together in the bowl and then dump it out onto your countertop, board, or Silpat. The mixture is pretty crumbly.
Knead the dough a few times until it just holds together and shape it into a circle. Flour your rolling pin and roll it until it's about 7 inches around. Cut in eight triangular pieces and put on your cookie sheet (I usually have a Silpat on my cookie sheets as the baked goods will not stick).
If you want to make smaller cones, you can divide the dough in half, roll each into a 7 inch disk and cut in eight pieces each, so you have 16 smaller scones.
Brush the tops of the scones with a little half and half and top with turbinado sugar.
Bake for 15-20 minutes or until lightly brown.
View from Claudia's gazebo.