Gluten Free Cream Scones-Perfected!

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(Updated 8/2015)

It occurred to me from looking at my last post, I have never actually shared with you my perfected scones! (palm to forehead!)

My sincerest apologies! They are just so good, it’s a crime not to share. So here you are, my Famous Cream Scones. (well, they are famous in my circle of friends!)

Note #1. I used Pamela’s Artisan Flour in my original version. Since 2013, when I posted this, I have substituted 1/2 the flour mix for almond flour. It produces a much more tender, and yes delicate, scone but the flavor is divine. When I started out baking GF, Pamelas was the best version of flour I could find. Since then, I’ve branched out and become much more adventuresome. With this recipe, just try to find some blend that isn’t too gritty. (If you are GF, you know what I mean)

Note #2. You MUST use the right technique with the butter. You do NOT cut the butter in with this recipe. You ‘flake’ it in. First, cut your butter in to cubes, be sure it is COLD. If you have hot hands, run under cold water to cool. Add the butter cubes to the flour mixture and using your thumbs and first two fingers ‘smear’ it though you’re fingers creating ‘flakes’ of butter. If your kitchen is hot (summertime is not the best time to make these) freeze your flour first and work very quickly, re-chilling the flour/butter mixture before adding the liquid if needed. By creating these little flakes of butter, you achieve a similar effect that it does in puffed pastry. That will yield a tender and moist, yet light and flaky scone. *2015 note: Gluten Free is much more forgiving than wheat flour. The chilling precautions are essential to a good wheat flour scone. For gluten free, just be sure you are creating flakes of butter, not mushy, gooey wads. Chill it again if you need to, to achieve this goal.

Note #3. You can change the flavor of these any way you wish. At the end I give you some of my favorite combinations of add-ins.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line baking sheet pans with a Silpat or Parchment paper. (I prefer a silpat style mat)

2 cups Pamelas Artisan Flour
3 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp salt (sea salt preferably)
7 tbsp (or about 6oz) Unsalted Butter (use best quality you can find)
3/4-1 cup Heavy Cream (extra for brushing the tops)
**add in’s of your choice
Turbinado or Demerara Sugar for topping the scones

Mix dry ingredients in a bowl. Using the technique described in note #2, flake in the butter. Using a fork, add the cream and gently fluff and toss the mess until it comes together. Depending upon the dryness of the flour, you may need the whole cup of cream. My trick is to add close to 1 cup, toss it with a fork, and if it doesn’t all come together, drizzle a bit more cream. Keep the mixing to a minimum. You want to retain the integrity of those butter flakes.

Take the whole bowl, along with any bits, and upend it on a clean, smooth surface. (I prefer marble or granite which you can pre-chill in hot weather by laying a bag of ice on top) Gently knead once or twice to incorporate all the bits and pat out. DO NOT OVERWORK. Yes, this is gluten free flour, so no danger of creating toughness, but you can melt the butter-a big no no! The dough should be moist enough to hold together, but not soggy. Pat the wad out into a disc, about 8 inches across. (bigger circle = thinner scones = shorter cooking time) Smear a little cream on the top and sprinkle with course Demerara or Turbinado sugar. Cut in to wedges with a sharp knife. For big traditional scones, cut in to 8. For smaller ‘tea sized’ scones, cut in to 12. A sharp knife works best, but a bench scraper also works if you are worried about dulling your knives on the marble. Carefully loosen from the marble, using your knife laid flat, and gently place on lined baking sheet and bake approx 10-15 minutes. If sliced into 12, check them at 8 minutes. The outside will look browned, and when you gently press the tops, they will give a little, but not be gooey. It will depend upon your oven and how big you cut them. If you are unsure, take one out and break it open. It will look moist, not gooey or raw, but cooked. Do not over bake!

**Add-Ins:

(These are my favorite combinations of add-ins and how I add them)

1/2cup dried blueberries (yes dried. fresh just smoosh, ooze, and have too much moisture) added to the flour/butter mix + 1/4 tsp lemon oil and/or 1 tsp lemon zest added to the cream

1/2 cup chopped dried cherries + 1/2 cup high quality bittersweet chocolate chunks added to the dry mix

1/2 cup dried apricots + 1 tsp cardamon added to dry mix; 1/4-1/2 tsp almond extract added to cream

1 cup fresh raspberries (very gently added to dry ingredients. be very VERY gentle when mixing and patting out. Yes, they will get smooshed, but the taste will be fantastic. Also, these take a bit more time to bake due to the extra moisture) + 1/2 cup white chocolate chip + 1/2cup macadamia nuts

These seriously are good enough to serve to a queen. Or family. Or picky relatives.
When my friends are sick, this is what they request I bring.
They really are THAT good.


Macadamia Nut Butter Crunch Toffee – Updated

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(**Please note a 2014 update at the bottom)

My family has been munching on this since I made it earlier this week. It honestly is the most delicious, creamy, stick to your teeth, perfectly balanced toffee I’ve ever had. I seriously love this recipe for the compliments, faces of obvious enjoyment, and groans of gratitude it elicits.

I found this recipe years back. A friend of mine and I used to get together before Christmas for a number of years, and bake up treats in vast amounts to give to friends and ship to family. It was so much fun to share the chore, catch up on our busy lives, and celebrate a completed task with a bottle of wine. Some of our treats did not make the ‘repeat’ cut list, but this one has. I make it every single year now. Every. Single. Year. And no, I don’t gain a pound. (wink, wink)

Some tips and tricks for safety and success:

1. Anytime you are making candies, it is a good idea to have a bowl of ice water nearby in case some of hot liquid splashes on you. This stuff is cooked HOT and can do some serious damage to skin. Please, this is not a recipe for kids to be attempting, although, it’s fun to watch. (The boiling sugar looks like lava, even as an adult, I find myself mesmerized)

2. I use macadamia nuts. I prefer them over all other nuts as they lend just that slightly salty/creamy aspect that I personally feel balances perfectly with the toffee. You may use any other nut your prefer, or use no nuts. I know that macadamias are spendy, but it’s once a year, and it’s Christmas, so I splurge. Don’t skimp on the macadamia nuts. You’ll want all that creamy nutty goodness to shine through. I have tried off brands, but in my experience, Mauna Loa is a superior brand. (I am a macadamia nut snob….I fully confess)

3. You must have a candy thermometer for this. I know that there are the old fashioned ways to test by dropping a ball in to very cold water and ‘feeling’ it’s stage. In this case, we are looking for hard crack stage. I cook mine to exactly 300 degrees, and I’ve had great success. I consider myself still a novice in the candy making realm, but if you are a candy expert and can eyeball ‘hard crack’, my hat is off to you.

4. The original recipe calls for a chocolate layer, which is melted on the hot toffee as it cools. I skip the chocolate. Honestly? I think chocolate would be distracting to the simple purity of this toffee. Don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate.  But there are times it can overshadow the star and, this is one of those times. I’ll let you decide whether or not you want to add chocolate or not. If you do, take chopped chocolate and sprinkle on top of the freshly poured toffee and let sit. The heat of the toffee will melt the chocolate, then you can take an offset spatula and smooth it out.

5. Lastly, you will need a Silpat mat (silicone) or parchment paper. I invested in a Silpat years and years ago and it has been a loyal workhorse in my kitchen. If you don’t have one, its Christmas…..

Macadamia Nut Butter Crunch

1 lb butter. (I use regular old salted butter)(***See 2014 update below)
2 C sugar
1 tbsp LIGHT corn syrup
1 tbsp vanilla
1 cup chopped macadamia nuts.
(8 oz chopped chocolate–as i’ve said, optional. I don’t use it)

Line a sheet pan, using the above tip. I use a sheet pan that restaurants use – Jelly Roll pans – they are rimmed. It keeps the toffee contained and reduces the mess!

Combine your butter, sugar, corn syrup in a heavy bottomed 4 quart sauce pan. You can use a non-stick pot for easier clean up. Get the butter melting first, then add the other two ingredients. Place over medium to high heat, stir with a wooden spoon and bring the mixture to a boil (*see note below), and reaches 300 degrees (hard crack stage) on a candy thermometer.

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Remove the pan from the heat and carefully stir in vanilla and nuts. (be careful, at this point it will bubble furiously!)

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Pour on to your silpat IMMEDIATELY, and help even it out towards the edges. The nuts can be a bit stubborn and want to clump. Try to do your best to even them out, but don’t sweat it if there are parts with no nuts. It’s still awesomely delish.

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Wait about 5 minutes for toffee to cool slightly. It should be still firm but not sticky. I say that because at this point, excess butter will likely break from the toffee. (**See 2014 update below ) No need to panic, simply blot up the excess with paper towels. Carefully test with your finger around 3 mins to see if it’s set or not. If the toffee is still too hot, blotting will end up with a ruined mess and the consumption of paper. At this point, after blotting, add your chocolate if you wish.

Let it cool until its firm, then crack and store in an airtight container. I layer it in between waxed paper in a ziploc bag or plastic food storage container. Stored at room temperature.

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*I am very careful when stirring to not slosh the sugar/butter mixture up on the sides of the pan. Sugar can be temperamental and you don’t want the toffee to end up sugary in texture, you want it creamy. So, to prevent the re-forming of crystals, once the butter is melted I give the mixture a gentle whisk, then I leave it alone.

***2014 Update:
This year I made this with Hope Creamery Unsalted Hi-Fat Butter. The results were amazing! Because the butter was unsalted, I added a hearty ‘pinch’ (about 1/2 tsp) of Himalayan salt while it was cooking. Using the Hi-Fat butter created a more glossy surface and the butter did NOT break out of the toffee, eliminating the whole blotting step. You can use a less expensive butter and this recipe will still yield great results. But if you really want to kick it up a notch, give the High Fat butter a whirl.
Note: The photo at the top is with traditional store brand butter. The lower photos (added this year) are with the new Hi-Fat butter. (There are other brands, Plugra is one) As you can see, there is a marked difference in the look. Its less grainy, the color richer and more glossy. That said…trust me. Both will be gone in the blink of an eye!