Cherry-Chocolate Scones and Hurricane Sandy

Hurricane Sandy has been pelting my house with wind and rain for about two days now. I live in a part of the Hampton Roads area, in southeast Virginia, where I am well away from any flooding, but I can’t say that for friends of mine scattered around the area. When they drop off Facebook, I have to assume they’ve lost power or have found something infinitely more fun to do than refresh Facebook (again) and make hurricane puns (again). I myself decided to stage a Halloween candy photo shoot last night.

Candy debauchery during Hurricane Sandy

If necessity is the mother of invention, boredom must be its kooky, favorite aunt. I have heard from friends who have been spent their days cooking, or in some cases, making elaborate storm-related playlists (or mixed tapes, as my friend Andrea still calls them), wading out into the water to capture photos of the storm.

Mayflower Avenue in Colonial Place (Norfolk) | Photo by Andrea Nolan, brave soul who waded in the water to snap a few photos.

Myself, I woke up at 6:15 this morning, despite having the day off from school due to the weather. And as I lay there, my stomach beginning to growl slightly louder than the wind could howl around the corner of the house, I thought of elaborate breakfast dishes. A strata, perhaps, or some sort of egg-based breakfast casserole. Maybe some French toast, or Belgian waffles. But then I remembered I had a couple bars of Green & Black’s Organic Chocolate left, a free sample I received from these fabulous chocolate-makers, and I had been entertaining the idea of making scones.

Cherry-Chocolate Scones!

I love scones, and for awhile, I only made orange-chocolate cream scones from The Joy of Cooking. But today, I had no oranges. Instead, I had half a bar of chocolate studded with tart dried cherries and half a bar of milk chocolate.

Boredom with the storm + necessity of eating breakfast + limited ingredients and no chance of a trip to the store = Cherry-Chocolate Scones. These scones turned out great – light, tender (because for the first time ever, I didn’t over-mix them), and simple. The chocolate bits were decadent, and every so often, I got a piece of tart cherry with my chocolate, which is a combination I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of.

The scone is ready for it’s close-up.

Here’s the great thing about these scones. I’ve adapted the recipe from Martha Stewart’s basic cream scone recipe; she empowers her readers to switch out ingredients to customize these scones based on your taste, preference, and/or ingredient availability. Especially for those readers locally or up north (in the path of the storm), a trip to the store might not be a possibility. But if you have heavy cream, an egg, butter, and a few basic staples, you can whip up some scones in 45 minutes or less and chow down.

Cherry-Chocolate Scones

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon cold heavy cream

1 egg

2 cups all-purpose flour, spooned and leveled off

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground ginger

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into cubes and chilled [or what I do is freeze the stick of butter and then grate it in using a cheese grater]

1/2 cup coarsely chopped cherry-chocolate

1/2 cup coarsely chopped milk chocolate

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

2. In a small bowl, whisk together 3/4 cup heavy cream and egg. Set aside.

3. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, cinnamon, and ginger. Cut in butter using two knives or a pastry blender, or if you froze your butter, using a cheese grater. You want the butter to resemble coarse crumbs. Stir to combine with flour mixture.

4. Stir in chocolate (see note below).

5. Using a fork, stir in the cream mixture until it just begins to come together. It will be crumbly and loose; that’s okay. Don’t over-mix it or you’ll end up with tough scones.

6. Turn dough out onto a floured work surface and gently pat it into a circle. Using a knife or pizza cutter, slice the dough into 6-8 wedges.

7. Transfer wedges to parchment-lined cookie sheet. Brush tops of the scones with heavy cream and, if desired, sprinkle with raw sugar.

8. Bake 16-18 minutes or until they spring back when touched and are golden brown.

9. Cool 5 minutes on wire rack and then serve warm with butter (or, hey, I’m not the boss of you – eat them cold, with jam, clotted cream, whatever you want!).

Scone on plate.

*Note:  The recipe above is what I did to make Cherry-Chocolate Scones because I had cherry-studded chocolate on hand. You might not. That’s okay. This recipe is easy to customize, so in place of cherry-chocolate, you could use chocolate chips, white chocolate, butterscotch chips, peanut butter chips, chopped up candy bars, whatever you like.

In addition, you can also add a 1/2 cup of dried fruit or nuts. This will give your scones an extra element to enjoy with the chocolate. You could also leave chocolate out of the equation (but my God, why?!) and just go with more nuts and fruit. It’s entirely up to you.

If you’re currently weathering the storm or just anticipating its arrival, I hope you are safe, having some fun, and eating good. In the event I lose power and drop off the grid for a few days, happy eating!

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