Traveling backward through time to 2002 via the Wayback Machine, a group of us participated in the Wine Road Barrel Tasting tour in Sonoma County. We stayed at the Farmhouse Inn, located about 20 minutes south of Healdsburg. What a great place! Unfortunately, it became so wonderful that we’re unable to afford to stay there now.
For breakfast they served moist, flaky, delicious scones. My friend, Mary, scored the recipe and has been making them ever since. She told me they’re easy to make and never fail, plus you can add anything you like to them. Her family favorites include sliced almonds and chocolate chips; Snickerdoodle (cinnamon with extra sugar); and dried cranberries and orange zest with pecans.
[Tip from Mary … Cut your ice cold butter into teeny, tiny pieces and toss it with the flour, sugar, baking powder mixture and refrigerate overnight. She says that the butter is easier and faster to incorporate, especially if you are making scones first thing in the morning.]
While contemplating which flour to use, I took a quick look at my “go-to” book, The New Best Recipe from Cook’s Illustrated, which revealed that when making scones, “a lower-protein all-purpose flour, such as Gold Medal or Pillsbury, is better than a higher protein flour, such as King Arthur.” Gold Medal it was!
Because I’m married to a chocolate fiend and due to the fact that our orange tree in the backyard is flush with oranges this year, I decided to try a chocolate chip orange scone topped with an orange glaze. If you don’t have an orange tree in your garden, try a Cara Cara navel orange, a sweet pink orange originally discovered in Venezuela in 1965, which are usually available in markets from late November through April. This is our absolute favorite orange, and the sweet rind is great in most everything. If you have a Trader Joe’s nearby, I was excited to see that they now carry Cara Cara oranges when in season.
These scones were a winner, and I will definitely be making more as long as I have those sweet, tasty oranges in the back yard!
2 ¼ c. flour (Gold Medal or Pillsbury)
1/3 c. sugar
1 T. baking powder
1 ½ sticks (6 oz.) ice cold unsalted butter, cut into tiny cubes
¾ c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. mini chocolate chips
3 sweet oranges, zested
1/2 c. powdered (confectioners) sugar
1 1/2 T. fresh squeezed orange juice (from the zested oranges)
Optional: 1 orange, zested and 1 t. Grand Marnier
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Whisk the flour, sugar and baking powder together to incorporate. Toss the tiny cubes of butter with the flour mixture (the smaller the pieces of butter, the better). If you have time, refrigerate overnight. In a food processor or with a pastry blender (even two forks will work!), combine the butter/flour mixture until it resembles a fine meal. Add the cream and combine until the dough is very crumbly.
Mix in the chocolate chips and orange zest (or whatever combination of fruits, nuts or spices you would like). BE GENTLE! … and do not over mix, or the scones will be hard as rocks. Turn the dough onto parchment paper or a lightly floured surface. Gently form the dough into two round disks, 1 ½” thick. Cut each disk into 6 wedges. Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 12-16 minutes until the scones are golden brown on the bottom.
For the glaze, whisk the fresh squeezed orange juice from the zested oranges into the powdered sugar. Add more juice to thin or more sugar to thicken if necessary. [Optional: Zest an additional orange and place in a small bowl with 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier. Stir the marinated orange zest into the glaze.] Use a small whisk or spoon to drizzle the glaze over the cooled scones.