Valentine’s Day is all about the chocolate. So why not start with breakfast?
There’s no sweeter way to start a day of romance than with these indulgent scones studded with hazelnuts, dark chocolate and dried cherries. They’d be perfect for a lazy breakfast in bed – if you don’t mind crumbs in the sheets. They’re very crumbly, which is a good thing in scones.
Alas, Valentine’s falls on a work day this year, though, so you may prefer to serve them at a table set with nice china and a single perfect rose so you’re not tempted to linger between the covers.
Now, you may think scones are too much effort for a workaday morning, but I have news for you. You can make these treats ahead of time and stash them in the refrigerator unbaked.
The recipe is adapted from Chef William Leaman of Seattle, team leader of the US bakers who won the 2005 World Cup of Baking in Paris. He taught a class on how to make them at Camp Bread at the San Francisco Baking Institute some years ago. I’ve added the cherries, because I think they’re perfect with chocolate, and adapted the instructions for a food processor for everyone who’s intimidated by mixing by hand.
The scones are easy enough to make by hand, if you would prefer. Just cut the chilled butter into the dry ingredients by rubbing the mixture between flattened palms as if your hands were cold. Stir in the nuts, chocolate and cherries. Then make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the cream and sour cream, mixing with a large wooden spoon or spatula just until the dough comes together.
Bittersweet chocolate chips work just fine but I really like the luxury of large chunks. I’ve used Guittard’s couverture chocolate wafers with great results.
No hazelnuts? I buy them at Trader Joe’s and keep them in the freezer. Although they give the scones terrific crunch, you could substitute pecans in a pinch.
When you’re ready to serve, just pop the scones into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Serve them with a good cup of coffee or tea.
Your Valentine will thank you.
Makes 10 3-inch scones3/4 cup blanched, skinless hazelnuts
2 7/8 cups unbleached all-purpose flout
1/4 cup sugar
5 teaspoons baking powder
10 tablespoons butter, chilled
1 cup dark chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup heavy cream plus 2 tablespoons for brushing tops
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons raw brown sugarPreheat oven to 375 degrees. Toast hazelnuts on a baking sheet until lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Set aside.
Place flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in work bowl of a food processor fitted with the dough blade. Whirl to blend. Cut butter into about 1/2″ chunks. With processor running, drop butter into flour through the feed tube and pulse a couple of times until the butter is cut into pea-sized pieces and the mixture looks like crumbly feta cheese. Combine cream and sour cream in a glass measure and pour into the feed tube. Pulse the processor to mix just until the dry and wet ingredients begin to come together. Do not over-mix. Sprinkle the nuts, chocolate and cherries evenly over the dough and pulse a couple of times to mix. The dough should be a little shaggy at this point.
Dump dough onto a lightly floured work surface. With your hands, shape into a large disk about 1-inch thick. You may need to pat the dough together to mix the ingredients and make the disk hold its shape. Cut into desired shapes and place on a Silpat- or parchment lined baking sheet. (At this point, you could wrap the dough tightly in plastic and refrigerate for 3 or 4 days or freeze for up to a month. Bring to room temperature or thaw before baking)
Brush tops of scones with heavy cream and sprinkle with brown sugar. Bake 12 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Serve while still warm.
Adapted from Chef William Leaman of Seattle, WA.