"Almond paste gives these scones a sophisticated, grown-up flair," writes Nicole Rees, author of Baking Unplugged and proponent of the notion that top-notch baked goods can be attained without the use of fancy tools. If, as she suggests, you soak your dried cherries in amaretto before adding them to the dough, your scones will be all the more delightful.
Baked into wedges, rich almond paste scones are just perfect for breakfast on the go. If you have the time, though, brew a pot of tea and spread a warm, split wedge with preserves and butter--or Devonshire clotted cream, if you can find it.
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- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/4 plus 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/3 cup pakced almond paste
- 1/3 cup cold unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup dried cherries or 1/3 cup mini semisweet chocolate chips
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream or half-and-half
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- Sugar for sprinkling
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Stack two baking sheets together and line the top one with parchment paper. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Using the large holes on a box grater, grate the almond paste and then the butter directly into the dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter, cut the almond paste and the butter into the dry ingredients until a few pea-sized lumps remain. Stir in the cherries or mini chocolate chips.
In a separate small bowl, whisk together the heavy cream, egg, and extracts. With a fork, gradually stir in enough of the liquid until the mixture just starts to come together, reserving about 1 tablespoon of the liquid to brush the tops of the scones.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and very gently pat into an 8-inch round about 1 1/2 inches high. Using a chef's knife or bench scraper. cut the dough round into 8 wedges. Transfer the wedges to the baking sheet, spacing the scones at least 1 inch apart. Lightly brush the tops of the scones with the reserved egg-cream mixture and sprinkle liberally with sugar.
Bake in the top third of the oven for 15 to 18 minutes or until the tops are golden. Transfer the scones to a wire rack to cool slightly, 3 to 4 minutes. Serve warm.