I’ve always seen the end of Christmas as a very final, staunchly conclusive event. While I may campaign to keep the twinkling lights and 9-foot tree up for a good extra week, in my heart of hearts, I sense the absence of my beloved Christmastime elements… The Celtic Woman Christmas album, peppermint-scented candles, and the sweet flavors of December. The rest of society isn’t indulging in them, so why should I?
But we’re going to start 2016 off with some grace, so let’s join hands and ease our way out of the fun kiddie pool of Christmastime into the deep, grownup pool of a brand new year with flavors that accommodate both areas.
Speaking of starting the year off with some grace, that’s how I came by these cream cheese scones. After hitting a brick wall in the kitchen more than once, I needed to let someone else drive and bark the orders, instead of myself. So I dove into The Baking Bible by Rose Levy Beranbaum. A dozen pages are now dog-eared, marking inspiring and exciting recipes that I’m itching to make. These scones looked and sounded delicious enough to make on the very night I read the recipe, resulting in one happy, sweet, carb-filled belly before bedtime.
I’d never heard of scones made with cream cheese, but given my love for both elements, these were too appealing not to make. The end result was a delicious, flaky, dense, creamy scone that made breakfast each morning an experience worth crawling out of a cold bed.
Levy Beranbaum suggested additions, so I took the dried cranberry route and folded a sweet pile of the tart, dried fruits into the dough. Cranberries also eased the aforementioned transition from Christmas into the new year, a flavor welcomed on both sides of that holiday fence.
A bowl of clementines stared at me from our kitchen island as I tasted the first scone out of the oven, quietly suggesting that they too could heal my end-of-2015 withdrawals with their bright, citrus-y flavors. So into a glaze they went… the perfect accompaniment to the tart and chewy dried cranberries interspersed amongst the fluffy scones.
While these may not abide by any health resolutions you’re embarking upon in the new year, there are still a few precious days left in 2015 to savor these and enjoy their comforting and sweetly dense flavors. Orrrr you could do what I’m doing and ease into a new year of renewed health with some gracious cheat-sweets like this.
- For the Scones
- ½ cup unsalted butter, chilled
- ½ cup cream cheese, chilled
- ¾ cup heavy cream, chilled
- 2½ cups bread flour
- 3 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ cup dried cranberries
- 1 heaping tablespoon honey
- For the Clementine Glaze:
- Juice of 2 clementines, strained
- ⅔ cup powdered sugar, roughly
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cut the butter and cream cheese into ½" cubes. Keep them separated and cover in plastic wrap (I had mine in two different spots on one cutting board), then place in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whisk the heavy cream until soft peaks form. Place in the refrigerator.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and lemon zest. Using a pastry cutter, cut the cream cheese into the mixture until pieces no bigger than small peas remain. Using your fingers, add the butter. Press between your fingers to break down and combine with the rest of the mixture.
- Stir in the cranberries, then make a well in the center. Add the whipped cream and honey, and fold everything together with a spatula until just combined. Knead just a few times while it's in the bowl until everything comes together.
- Place on a lightly floured surface and knead just 3 or 4 more times. On a baking pan or silicon mat, pat the dough out with your hands into about a 9" circle that's roughly ¾" thick. Cover lightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate about 10 minutes.
- Once the dough has chilled, cut into 8 even pieces with a large knife or pizza cutter. Place each piece on a baking sheet about 2 inches apart (they rise better if they are somewhat close to each other). Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 13-15 minutes, or until they are slightly golden around the edges and set in the center. Let cool a bit.
- To assemble the glaze, whisk together the clementine juice and powdered sugar until no lumps remain. If should be thick and pour slowly from an elevated spoon, a little more quickly than honey would. If it's not quite thick enough, add more powdered sugar. If it's too thick, add more clementine juice or a bit of milk. Spoon on top of the scones while on parchment paper or a cooling rack.