Why It Works
- Chopped chocolate is a mix of big chunks, little shards, and fine powder, flavoring the dough itself.
- Milk cuts the richness of cream, keeping the scones light in both taste and texture.
- Using more cream than butter gives these scones more lactose, helping them brown and crisp along the bottom.
- A sprinkling of toasted sugar, while optional, adds a crunchy caramel note.
Whether it is a special occasion or just another Tuesday, I don't see any reason why the day shouldn't start off with a warm chocolate scone. It's a fast and simple way to make any morning special, with or without an official excuse to do so. While it's strangely difficult to find a good scone these days (store-bought versions always seem so dry), they're freakishly simple to make at home.
Dark Chocolate vs. Milk Chocolate
You can make these scones with whatever sort of chocolate you prefer, but I've found that dark types can seem almost astringent in the lightly sweetened dough. In the context of the otherwise buttery but simple scone, milk chocolate offers just the right sweetness and flavor, especially if it's on the darker end of the spectrum. Look for brands like Endangered Species 48% in supermarkets, or buy in bulk online; I used Valrhona's Caramélia 36%, made with caramel rather than sugar for more bitterness and complexity than is offered by a typical milk chocolate.
How to Make Cream Scone Dough
Once you've figured out what sort of chocolate you'd like in the scones, the recipe itself comes together in a flash. Just sift the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl, then add the cubed butter and smash each piece flat. Continue smashing and rubbing to create a coarse meal, with no bits of butter larger than a Cheerio. As in a pie dough, butter coats flour, which helps limit gluten development, delivering more tender scones.
If you like, you can finish the recipe through this step, then wrap the bowl tightly in plastic wrap and stash it in the fridge overnight to streamline prep for breakfast or brunch. Truth be told, my scones don't use a lot of butter, so this part comes together really fast. But it's a nice make-ahead option if you're planning a more complicated spread.
To make up for the comparative lack of butter, my scones use a lot of cream. Cream is higher in lactose (a natural milk sugar) than butter, which helps the scones brown in the oven. I cut that richness with a splash of milk to hydrate the dough. Using 100% cream would make a dry but rich dough that's golden and tender, but far too crumbly and dense. Meanwhile, using all milk would make the dough sticky, wet, and lean, producing a pale scone that's fluffy but chewy, bordering on tough. After much experimentation, I've found that a 1:3 ratio of milk to cream by weight is just right, making the scones light but tender and tawny gold.
Shaping and Cutting Scone Dough
Once the dough comes together, turn it onto a lightly floured surface, and gently pat it into a seven-inch round, using your palms to tidy up the edges. If you're serving the scones as part of a more complicated brunch, you can get away with eight or nine pieces, but when serving scones on their own, you'll want to cut no more than six.
Since the dough itself contains less than a half ounce of sugar, I like to finish the scones with a dusting of lightly toasted sugar to help crisp their craggy tops. If you've baked with me before, then you probably have a bag of lightly toasted sugar left over from blind-baking a pie crust. With its subtle sweetness and a mellow caramel flavor that will only intensify in the oven, toasted sugar is the perfect topping for scones, but if you don't have any on hand, it's fine to use turbinado instead.
Whatever the case, remember: It's cut, then sprinkle. Doing it the other way around will cause the sugar crystals to drag down with the knife, creating ragged cuts that look sloppy and can cause the scones to deform as they rise. But if you cut the dough and then sprinkle the sugar on top, each wedge will look sharp and clean.
How to Tell When Scones are Perfectly Baked
To help the scones crisp along the bottom without drying out, it's best to bake them on a parchment-lined half sheet pan in a 400°F (200°C) oven until golden brown, about 25 minutes. The time will depend on exactly how thick the scones were patted out and the particulars of your oven and pan, so visual cues will be more reliable than any timer.
With their crispy tops, crunchy bottoms, and light but tender middles (not to mention those gooey pockets of molten chocolate), these scones are everything I want in a last-minute breakfast treat.
If you're feeling really generous, warm chocolate scones are amazing with a dollop of Super-Thick and Fruity Whipped Cream, which recalls the combination of strawberry jam and clotted cream.
Not that they need it. These scones are rich and moist all on their own, served with nothing more than a piping-hot mug of coffee or tea.
9 ounces all-purpose flour (about 2 cups, spooned; 255g), plus more for dusting
1 tablespoon baking powder
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon (4g) Diamond Crystal kosher salt; for table salt, use half as much by volume or use the same weight
2 ounces cold unsalted butter (4 tablespoons; 55g), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
6 ounces roughly chopped milk chocolate (1 cup; 170g)
2 ounces milk (1/4 cup; 55g), any percentage will do
6 ounces heavy cream (3/4 cup; 170g)
Toasted or turbinado sugar, to taste (see note)
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 400°F (200°C). Sift flour into a medium bowl, then whisk in baking powder, sugar, and salt. Add butter and toss to break up the pieces, then smash each one flat between your fingertips. Continue smashing and rubbing until butter disappears into a coarse meal. Add milk chocolate and toss to combine, then stir in milk and cream to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a lightly floured surface and pat into a 7-inch round. Cut into 6 wedges with a chef’s knife, sprinkle generously with toasted or turbinado sugar, and arrange on a parchment-lined half sheet pan. Bake until puffed and golden, about 25 minutes. If you like, serve with clotted cream and strawberry jam, or a spoonful of Super-Thick and Fruity Whipped Cream.
|Nutrition Facts (per serving)|
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 27g||35%|
|Saturated Fat 17g||85%|
|Total Carbohydrate 55g||20%|
|Dietary Fiber 2g||8%|
|Total Sugars 20g|
|Vitamin C 0mg||1%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.|