We came up with the idea for these after making the Cherry Almond Brittle the other day. Sounds odd? Let us explain. When we bit into a piece of brittle, we noticed that the cherries had a slight taste of cinnamon. Yes, cinnamon. We didn’t put it there, but we could taste something like cinnamon, so we thought that cherries and cinnamon would go well together.
Now, at the same time, we had some heavy cream that needed to be used. Not a lot, but enough that we needed to figure out a use for it. So, we thought of scones. Well, cherry cinnamon scones, to be exact. How, exactly, then, did we end up with Apricot Almond Scones?
Simple: we didn’t have enough dried cherries in the house. But we did have dried apricots, and we thought that apricot and cinnamon would be improved if we left out the cinnamon and added almonds, instead. After all, they’re both drupes. See? Well, maybe you don’t see, but that’s okay, let’s scratch out some scones. Oh, and these are based on our Cranberry-Orange Scones, which are based on the Bouchon Cheddar Scones.
Don’t let the long list of ingredients and specific measurements prevent you from making these scones. If you have a scale, it’ll be easy. If you use measuring cups, it’ll be a bit harder, but still doable, so go for it. No crème fraîche? Well, until we learned how easy it is to make, we wouldn’t have had any, either. In that case, just replace with more heavy cream.
Procedure in detail:
For the almonds and apricots:
Make simple syrup. Place the sugar and water in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped almonds and almond extract. Bring the mixture to a simmer, then add the apricot pieces. Bring back to a simmer. Remove from the heat.
Cover and steep. Transfer the almonds, apricots, and syrup to a bowl, cover, and refrigerate overnight.
Drain. The next day, strain off about 1/4 cup of syrup and reserve for making the glaze. Drain the almond and apricot mixture thoroughly, about an hour.
For the scones:
Sift dry ingredients. Okay, we know you don’t want to break out the sifter; it always seems like just one more thing to do. And, we agree, but we break out the sifter for cake flour. It’s lumpy. Just place your sifter in the bowl of a stand mixer, measure the ingredients right into the sifter, and crank away.
Add salt and mix. Toss the teaspoon of kosher salt onto the flour mixture — kosher salt crystals are too large to fit through the sifter screen — onto the flour and attach the bowl to a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Turn the mixer on low and mix for about 15 to 20 seconds to incorporate the salt.
Add butter and mix. Turn off the mixer, add the butter pieces, and pulse the mixer to get everything started without flinging flour all over the place. Once it’s started, let the mixer run on low, gradually cutting in the flour, until the mixture looks like a coarse cornmeal, about 3 minutes. If there are any lumps of butter left, break them apart with your fingers.
Add cream and mix. With the mixer still on low, slowly add the heavy cream and crème fraîche. As part of our prep work, we just mix these two together in a small measuring cup. Keep mixing until the dough comes together and forms around the paddle, about a minute.
Add almonds and apricots and mix. Scrape the almond and apricot mixture onto the dough, then pulse the mixture a good 15 to 20 times, or enough to mix them in fairly uniformly. Don’t mix so long as to break up the apricots, though.
Shape dough. Turn the dough onto a work surface, and, using your hands and a dough scraper, form the dough into a block about 7×9 inches. The dough might be a bit sticky at this point, but don’t be tempted to add more flour.
Chill dough. Use your dough scraper to lift the dough and place it on a piece of plastic. Wrap tightly, then place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours. The chilling will make it less sticky, and easier to work.
Cut into scones. If you’re making large scones, cut the dough block in half lengthwise, then cut each rectangle into 6 pieces, making 12 long rectangles. If you want bite-sized pieces, cut each of the rectangles in half, making 24 scones. Place everything on a baking sheet, again wrapping the scones in plastic.
Freeze. Set the scones in the freezer for at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight. The next day you can transfer them to a freezer bag for up to a month.
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with silicone baking mats or parchment.
Bake. Place the frozen scones on the baking sheets, leaving an inch of space between them. Bake for about 33 to 36 minutes for the large scones, slightly less for the bite-sized scones, or until golden brown.
For the glaze:
Mix. While the scones are baking, whisk together the powdered sugar and 45 g (2 1/2 Tbs) of the reserved syrup. While whisking, slowly add cream. If needed, add more syrup to keep a glaze-like consistency.
Glaze. As soon as the scones are removed from the oven, apply glaze with a pastry brush and let cool completely before serving.
Mmm. Scones fresh from the oven. You know, we never can wait until they’re completely cooled; they’re just too good. As with many of the other flavored scones we’ve made, you can keep the frozen scones for about a month, baking a couple here and there as you get the urge. An easy five stars.