These Cranberry Almond Scones are the perfect sweet treat to go alongside a cup of tea or coffee on cold winter mornings. Read on, or jump straight to the recipe HERE.
It’s kind of amazing how well cranberries have done for themselves, considering that all on their own, they’re puckeringly tart with zero sweetness. Yet somehow, I love them, and every year I can’t resist buying a bag as soon as they hit the stores. Even if I have no idea what I’m going to do with them. (It doesn’t take me long to figure it out.)
Last year, I literally got up at three in the morning because I needed to go buy cranberries. Does this make me weird? Probably. Let’s move on.
As not-great as they are on their own, though, it doesn’t take much to turn cranberries into beautiful little gems of flavor. Their tartness is the perfect counterbalance to sweet treats, and these scones are my favorite example of how good fresh (not dried) cranberries can be.
This year, I actually knew exactly what I wanted to make when cranberries hit the stores. The idea for these scones came out of nowhere — like my brain just sucked it out of the ether and said “yep, that’s what I’m gonna make.” But I wasn’t quite sure how I wanted to make them, so I started looking at recipes for inspiration… and ended up finding the most genius trick ever for almond scones.
In this recipe by Judith Rae, over on Food52, she freezes a log of almond paste, then grates the hard marzipan on the big-hole side of a box grater, just like cheese. These little shreds get tossed with the dry ingredients so each one gets coated with flour and evenly dispersed. When the scones bake, they melt into the dough, spreading a perfectly even layer of almond flavor throughout.
The almond paste also lends a lovely, very slight chewiness to the inside of these scones that I can’t get enough of. It’s an addictive texture that almost forces you to slow down and savor every bite.
I made some changes to that recipe based on my previous scone experience, and am super happy with the way these came out. Hands down, they are the best scones I have ever made… but the credit really does go to Judith over at Food52 for introducing me to the grated-almond-paste trick.
You can bet I’m going to be stashing my almond paste in the freezer from now on, and grating it into all my almond flavored desserts.
These scones are golden and crispy around the edges, tender on the inside, and have just the slightest bit of chewiness from the almond paste that makes them extra satisfying. They are just the right level of sweetness for a decadent breakfast or a light dessert, and the little grenades of fresh cranberry are a welcome burst of brightness amid all the almond flavor.
I sent some to work with my husband to share with his coworkers, and one of them declared these to be even better than the scones he grew up with back in England. I’d call that a success!
- 3 cups (380g.) all purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- ⅓rd cup (76g.) sugar
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- ½ tsp. baking soda
- ½ tsp. salt
- 6 TBSP (3oz.) unsalted butter, cold and cut into cubes
- 7 oz. almond paste, frozen (I used this one)
- ¾ cup fresh cranberries, rinsed and dried
- 1 large egg
- ¾ cup milk, or almond milk
- 1 tsp. lemon juice (can substitute white vinegar if you want)
- ½ tsp. almond extract
- ½ tsp. vanilla extract
- 1-2 TBSP milk, for brushing
- 3-5 TBSP sliced almonds
- 1-2 TBSP coarse sugar
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F., and line a baking sheet with parchment paper, or a silpat.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the first five dry ingredients (the flour to the salt). Add the cubed butter, and cut it into the flour with a pastry cutter (or, transfer everything to a food processor and pulse a few times) until the butter is in pea-sized chunks.
- Grate the almond paste on the large-hole side of a box grated. Using your fingers, gently mix the shreds into the dry ingredients so each one is separate and coated with flour. Mix in the cranberries.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Add the dry to the wet, and stir until everything is just evenly combined.
- Sprinkle some flour on your cutting board or counter, and turn the dough out of the bowl. Gently shape the dough into a mound, and pat the mound into a disc about 1 inch thick. (If you want to make twice as many smaller scones, you can split the dough in half and make two smaller discs.)
- Brush the top with milk, and sprinkle evenly with sliced almonds and sugar -- I like to gently pat the almonds into the top of the dough to make sure they stick. Using a long knife, divide the dough into 8 even triangles (like you would a pie).
- Place each scone on your prepared baking sheet, leaving at least 1 inch of space between them. Bake on the center rack for about 18-20 minutes, or until the tops are lightly golden brown. (If you made smaller scones, reduce the baking time and keep a close eye on them.)
- Let cool for 5-10 minutes before digging in. Scones are best eaten right away, while they are still a little warm and lightly crisp at the edges, but they will keep well for up to 4-5 days. Once completely cool, store in an airtight container at room temperature. Serve as is, or with a dollop of whipped cream, creme fraiche, or clotted cream.
This recipe is adapted from these almond scones from Food52. Credit goes to them for the grated-almond-paste trick -- thanks, Judith Rae!
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