In the midst of the busy holiday season, I count on recipes that can be made ahead in a quiet morning or two, and pulled out of the freezer for a fresh baked treat on (what seems like) a moment’s notice. This year, in particular, I have been searching for sweet treats and found a great option in these Chocolate Hazelnut Scones from Zoe Nathan and the Huckleberry Bakery & Cafe in Santa Monica. The brilliance of the scones lies in the fact that the recipe requires the unbaked dough to be frozen and then baked, so you don’t even feel like you’re cheating by making it ahead. I made a batch last week and another this morning, froze them, and then wrapped each scone in plastic wrap. On Christmas morning, they’ll need a quick 30 minutes in a 350 degree oven and that’s it. Serve them with a generous amount of whipped cream (which I prefer sweetened with a small amount of powdered sugar and a tiny bit of vanilla bean paste).
A few notes on the recipe: The original recipe gives measurements in both American baking units (cups, tablespoons, etc) as well as by weight. While I usually find that baking by weight is more accurate, the weight recommendations in the cookbook don’t correlate quite right so I’ve given all measurements in American units. Also, the original recipe calls to shape the scones by packing them tightly in an ice cream scoop. I didn’t have one handy, so I just cut the dough into traditional scone like wedges and it worked out just fine. They were perhaps a little more rustic than intended, but they were every bit as buttery and flaky so it seemed like nothing was lost in my laziness. Finally, the original Huckleberry recipe calls for a very interesting egg wash – made with 2 egg yolks and 2 Tablespoons of heavy cream plus a small pinch of salt. I liked the beautiful color it gave the scones, but if you don’t have heavy cream or extra egg yolks, you will not be shortchanged to just brush with a simple beaten egg and call it good.
What sort of make ahead treats are filling your freezer these days?
- 1¾ cups all-purpose flour
- ½ cup hazelnuts, toasted and then ground
- 1 Tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 5 Tablespoons sugar, plus a little more for sprinkling on top
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup plus 2 Tablespoons cold, unsalted butter
- 6 Tablespoons cold buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chopped dark chocolate
- 1 batch of Egg Wash (see notes)
- Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and mix well.
- Cut the cold butter into small pieces and cut into the flour mixture (using either your fingers or a pastry cutter) until you have pea-sized or slightly larger pieces.
- Add the buttermilk, chocolate, and vanilla and gently mix together.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured surface and gently knead the dough two or three times using the heel of your hand until it just begins to hold together. Do not over mix - you want chunks of butter!
- Form the scones either by cutting into traditional shape or packing tightly into an ice cream scoop.
- Freeze on an ungreased sheet pan for at least two hours. If making ahead, wrap tightly with plastic wrap once frozen and bake within one month.
- When ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350 degrees (180C). Brush with an egg wash and sprinkle liberally with sugar.
- Bake from frozen for approximately 30 minutes, or until nicely browned.