Chocolate scones sound like a brilliant idea, but honestly, I have never had one that tastes good. They’re always too dry, too cake-y, too flat, too flavorless. Sadly, this recipe from the MSBH is no exception. It certainly is a much more involved approach than any I have tried before, and I had high hopes, but the MSBH’s chocolate scones disappointed. These were especially dry, despite my using aboout 50% more cream than the recipe called for in order to get my dough to come together.
The dry ingredients include cocoa powder, which gives the flour mixture it’s brown color.
I have the best success with scones when I use a method from Alton Brown to cut in the butter. Brown recommends using your fingers to “rub” the butter into the dry ingredients. I use a pastry cutter to begin cutting in the chunks of butter and then finish with my fingers.
The rubbing is, as Brown describes it, “like feeling velvet or a puppy’s ears.” You do not rub back and forth, as you don’t want to warm the butter too much. I move the butter and flour through my hands in just one direction, creating flakes of butter with the mixture, trying to handle flakes only once. The flakes melt while baking, leaving thin pockets of air in the scones, giving them a wonderful tender quality, much lighter than simply using the pastry cutter to create pea-sized pieces.
Once I literally feel that most of the large butter clumps are worked out, I put the mixture in the refrigerator so the butter flakes can chill. This ensures that they are not further worked into the flour while completing the dough. You want them to keep their flake shape.
At this stage, the chocolate chunks are added. One thing I appreciate about the MSBH is that actual measurements are specified in almost every instance where they might be needed. Here, the baker is instructed to chop the chocolate into 1/4-inch chunks.
When I first started baking, I wondered why one would bother to chop chocolate when chocolate chips are so readily available. But this is another lesson I learned from Alton Brown: chocolate chunks melt differently than chocolate chips because the chocolate chunks contain more cocoa solids and far, far less sugar. This means the chunks do not melt as quickly, nor do they stay melted upon returning to room temperature like chocolate chips do. If you bite into a baked good made with chunks, you’ll notice that the chunks provide a distinct texture and flavor – much more so than chocolate chips do, which blend in with what surrounds them. So, if a recipe calls for chunks, I take the time to chop chunks.
The wet ingredients finish off the dough – in this case, cream and an egg. Then it’s just a manner of forming and cutting the scones. For this recipe, the MSBH instructs the baker to make a long rectangle – 18 x 3 inches.
I dropped the dough down and started forming it with my hands from one end down to the other. The scones will generally keep their shape, so this is an important step to keep neat and precise.
Six huge scones! But they are precisely the size the MSBH calls for. I was horrified. They then go in the freezer on a baking sheet to freeze.
After freezing, they are brushed with an egg wash and sprinkled with sanding sugar, then baked.
They look like cow pies. They taste unappealing as well.