Chocolate Hazelnut Scones

Chocolate Hazelnut SconesOregone
I spent last weekend in Oregon and it was glorious. True, I spent four years living there—so I may be biased. But, the drive down to Eugene from Portland reminded me just how much I love it up there, green rolling hills, fields of frisky animals, charming red barns….

There is no greener state than Oregon. And yes, it does rain up there. A lot. And that rain makes for some of the most stunning scenery you can ask for. This time around, I was blessed to experience one of the few absolutely perfect-weather weekends. No rain and 70 degrees. Perfect. Add to that a football win for the home team and you just can’t get much better than that…unless we start talking about the food.

Oregon is a food lover’s dream and it’s no secret that the hot Portland restaurant scene is where innovation is happening. With the abundance of fresh-grown veggies and humanely raised meats available within an hour or two of the city, you’d have to work pretty hard to not to produce a quality product. Needless to say, I ate pretty well on this trip.

I took advantage of what there was to offer including the fresh veggies, and the Pinots, and of course, the coffee. Coffee is a religion up there. Like, literally. Oregonians don’t mess around. While consuming more than the recommended daily allowance of caffeine at one of my favorite coffee stops, I had the privilege of snacking on a hazelnut chocolate scone freshly made from Oregon grown hazelnuts and fresh butter. It was ah-may-zing!

I brought a bunch of coffee beans home with me in an effort to extend my trip (if only in my mind and coffee cup). For this same reason, I have been searching for a hazelnut scone recipe on the internet. I found this basic recipe on Food 52 and have been experimenting to duplicate my Oregon scones. It’s a tough job but I am definitely up to the task….

Chocolate Hazelnut Scones
Adapted from Food 52
Yields 12 servings

1 pound unbleached all-purpose flour
4 ounces cold, unsalted butter cut into 1-inch chunks
11 ounces heavy cream
2 large eggs
3 ounces granulated sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup toasted chopped hazelnuts
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Make the dough
Sift together the dry ingredients directly into the bowl of a stand mixer that is fitted with the paddle attachment. (If you are mixing by hand, sift the flour directly into a large mixing bowl).

Add the cold butter chunks. Mix on the lowest speed just until butter is the size of peas. This is a dense mixture, and butter pieces will reduce in size as cream and eggs are added. (If you are mixing by hand, cut in the butter with 2 knives, one in each hand, working in a scissoring motion until butter is the size of peas. A hand-held pastry blender will reduce butter to too-small pieces.)

Measure the cream in a liquid measuring cup. Add the eggs to the measuring cup and whisk into the cream to blend.

With the mixer running on the lowest speed, add the cream mixture all at once. Continue mixing just until you can see no dry ingredients remaining in the bottom of the bowl. (If mixing by hand, add cream mixture all at once. Use a rubber spatula to mix, using a cutting motion while turning the bowl. Mix just until no dry ingredients remain in the bottom of the bowl.)

Gently mix in the chocolate chips and hazelnuts.

Form the scones
Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface. Gently press it together into a mound using the palms of your hands (your fingers can warm up the dough too much, and cold dough means tender scones). Divide the dough in half with a bench scraper or a knife. Gently round up each half, and press them into a round shape again with your palms, making disks that are about 1″ thick. Wrap each in plastic and allow them to rest in the refrigerator for 30 minutes. The dough may also be frozen at this point.

Preheat oven to 375 ºF.

Remove the disks of dough from the refrigerator. Using a bench scraper or knife, divide each disc into 6 pieces—first in half, then in thirds. Arrange the triangles on a baking sheet lined with parchment leaving 1-inch of space in-between.

Brush the tops of the scones with a bit of cream, and then sprinkle the tops with sugar.

Bake the scones
Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through.

Your scones are done when well risen, a beautiful golden brown, and the top doesn’t feel soft when tapped.

Remove the scones from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes before serving.

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