Monday, October 11, 2010

Apricot-White Chocolate* Scones

[*Technically, these are Apricot-Coconut White Chocolate Scones, but that is a long name and also I know some people don't dig coconut as much as I do, so I thought I'd specify in the recipe what specific white chocolate I used (the kind with coconut in it) and I'd go on and on about how delightful it was, but plain old white chocolate would be a perfectly acceptable ingredient as well, as made clear by title of post. I'm so accommodating!]

Do you remember when I mentioned, a few weeks ago, as an aside in a post that had nothing to do with America's Test Kitchen (hereinafter "ATK"), that each recipe I've tried in the ATK cookbook - specifically The Complete ATK TV Show Cookbook 2001-2010 - produced the best version I've ever tasted of whatever the recipe was for? Well, I wasn't kidding. Admittedly, I've only made a teeny tiny fraction of the possibilities that the ATK cookbook provides (because the book is huge), but, so far, without fail, each recipe I have attempted has resulted in something incredible. My famous best-ever nachos are adapted from the ATK cookbook. I've also made super tasty black bean soup, butternut squash risotto, "smashed" potatoes, and - seriously - even their instructions for perfect quesadillas are truly perfect!

While I was on maternity leave last year my dear former neighbors lent me their Cooks Illustrated magazines, and then my Aunt Tammey gifted me her older volumes, and I became obsessed. The experimentation that these folks conduct on a regular basis is just unbelievable. They are so dedicated. I wish I could work with them or at least be a taste-tester. They are scientific, culinary geniuses. Infusing chicken broth with butternut squash seeds in order to make a more flavorful butternut squash risotto without throwing in too much butternut squash? Brilliant. Cooking down a portion of the blueberries into a syrupy jam ribbon in order to make more flavorful blueberry muffins without dumping more blueberries (which will inevitably sink to the bottom, duh) into the batter? But of course!

I consider everything they say 150% accurate and reliable and I never veer from their instructions, even if I do maybe mess with ingredient/flavor profiles regularly since that's my M.O.

(Don't even get me started on their product reviews, or the fact that I got a 12" nonstick skillet based on their recommendation, or that I ditched using Pacific Organic Chicken Broth because their tasters said it was reminiscent of mushrooms.)

So, while the romance started with the magazines about a year ago, and things got serious when my friend Amber let me borrow her older version of the ATK cookbook for several months, I officially fell head over heels when Amber got me the current issue of the ATK cookbook earlier this past summer. It would not be an exaggeration to say that this cookbook has changed my life. I love it. We're going to get married. You're all invited.

But enough about my love life. Let's talk about scones.

Scones are, theoretically, so wonderful. Soft on the inside, shiny on the outside, just-enough-crumb, not-too-sweet, a little British, and super versatile. These are all the things I think of when I think of scones. And, because my dreamy thoughts get the best of me whenever there is a case of pastries in front of me, I frequently get suckered into buying a coffee-shop scone when, time and time again, they are hard, dry, stale, and sickeningly sweet. All 650 calories of them are more worthy of the waste bin than my waistline. (That was my lame attempt at a pun. A+ for effort?) But I never learn. Especially when they have white chocolate in them. And they so often do, right?

(Every time I see a white chocolate-apricot or white chocolate-raspberry (or blackberry or strawberry) scone, I want to buy it and eat it immediately. I love white chocolate. In kind of a weird way, given what a weird food product it is. I think it comes down to the fact that it's mostly sugar. I LOVE SUGAR. )

What could be better in a scone than white chocolate? COCONUT WHITE CHOCOLATE. Actually I ended up with the coconut white chocolate bar pictured below totally on accident. I just didn't read the label properly at the grocery store. But I'm grateful for my scatterbrainedness in this instance because it was super super super super good. That's four supers. That's GOOD.

scone collage

This post is unbelievably long and rambly. I'm sure you've noticed that and I just want you to know that I've noticed too and I'm slightly mortified and it's because I've been writing this post on and off for like a week and that's not the writing approach that works for me, especially when I'm as enthusiastic about my topic as I am about these scones, so it's disjointed and I've lost momentum and really all I wanted to say the whole time was this:



plated scone

They taste like what you want the scones to taste like at your local chain coffee shop.

plate of scones

They smell good too. Even my tiny daughter couldn't wait for them to be done.

sadie eyeing scones

You should really really really make them. And then invite me over for tea.

Apricot-White Chocolate Scones
Yield: 8 perfect scones

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled and cut into 1/4" cubes
1/3 cup coarsely chopped dried apricots, soaked in hot water for 10-15 min and drained well
1/3 cup white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate or - better yet - chopped coconut white chocolate
1 cup heavy whipping cream

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Place flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Scatter the cubed butter evenly over the top and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal with a few lumps, about 8-12 pulses. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl and stir in the dried apricots and white chocolate. Stir in the heavy whipping cream with spatula until the tacky dough forms. Transfer the dough and any leftover dry bits onto your counter or a cutting board and knead the dough by hand just until it comes together into a sticky ball (see pictures above - mine took about 5 good squeezes and flips). Cut the dough into eight wedges and place them on a baking sheet. Drizzle or brush some cream or milk on top of each scone. Bake on middle rack for 12-15 minutes, or until scones are lightly browned. Cool on a wire rack for at least 10 minutes.

(These freeze beautifully. And I didn't do anything fancier than thawing them in the microwave.)

To close, I have a question for you friends and relatives and occasional accidental readers: how'd you like the 10-days of CSA thing? The format worked well for me because it kept me focused and productive and committed. I'm thinking of doing it again. Here are my ideas: 10 days of Soup... or Pancakes... or Cookies... or Eggs... I had some other ideas but they are escaping me right now. If you like the format and want to see it again, and/or if you have ideas, please let me know! Thanks, man!


  1. I do have the ATK cookbook! I'll second Edith and report that it is wonderful. I am never inspired to make scones b/c I feel the ones I buy are often disappointing. But thanks to your enthusiasm, I will give this a shot. There are not many things I like more than coffee and a baked treat.

    I will take 10 days of whatever you want to dish up.

  2. Mrs. ATK, you crack me up. One of my favorite posts so far. Let me know where you and ATK are registered! :D

  3. OMG. These scones are SOOOOOOOO good!!! SO. GOOD.

  4. I loved the "10 days of CSA" theme!! I love themes, if you give me a theme, I go crazy with it! It's true. So, yes 10 days of soup, pancakes, cupcakes, salads, pasta, beef, chicken, vegetarian, bring it on!!! I will love it. I think it will be fun for you too. If you need help thinking of themes, I'm very good at it. :)