It’s holiday crunch time and I don’t know about you, but I’m feeling a little bit of the pressure. One of my favorite things to do during these busy times is to use make ahead or easy prep recipes to decrease my workload on big cooking days, like Christmas! I love to have a special breakfast treat for Christmas morning, but I don’t love the idea of being stuck in the kitchen while everyone else is opening gifts or sitting by the fireplace. These White Chocolate Cranberry Scones are the perfect thing for holiday entertaining. They are easy, cake-like and studded with bits of pear sugar, cranberries, and white chocolate and come together in less than 30 minutes. And the best part? They are easily prepped ahead and baked from frozen so you can check off one more thing on your holiday list ahead of time.
If there’s one thing I don’t like, it’s a dry, crumbly scone. If you’re looking for one of those, this is not it. These White Chocolate Cranberry Scones use buttermilk and a small amount of cream cheese to keep the dough moist, with a light and cake-like crumb. I first came across the idea of adding cream cheese to the scones at my bridal shower many years ago, when my now husband’s cousin brought some delicious scones for the party. I immediately asked for the recipe and have been tinkering with it for a while.
This scone dough is quite forgiving and really versatile. It is perfectly tasty on it’s own, with just a simple sprinkling of sugar and a great cup of coffee, but I love to amp it up with chunks of white chocolate and tart bits of dried cranberries (I used craisins) for texture and flavor. You can definitely get creative with it. Don’t love cranberries? Try dried blueberries instead. Not a fan of white chocolate? Leave it out or add some chunks of dark chocolate instead. This is your dough canvas and you have license to play.
I don’t use a scone pan simply to keep things simple, so these are definitely a rustic appearing scone. Similarly, you could definitely bring the dough together in a food processor, but I prefer the ease of a pastry cutter or large fork. The key is to not overmix the dough. I will be sticky and that’s ok! To keep them uniform in size, I use this Pampered Chef scoop (a three tablespoon portion) but a larger spoon will work as well.
These scones are absolutely the best eaten right after they’ve been baked. The warm, cake-like dough contrasts so beautifully with the crunch of the pearl sugar and the slightly melty chocolate. While I was testing this recipe a few weeks ago, my husband ate five of them straight out of the oven! That all being said, it’s not always practical to bake stuff early in the morning, so I love freezing the unbaked dough and baking them right from frozen when needed. Simply prepare your dough as usual, scoop onto a parchment lined baking sheet and then pop that sheet into the freezer for 20-30 minutes. Once the dough is mostly frozen, grab the unbaked scones off the sheet and toss them into a freezer bag. When you’re ready for fresh baked scone goodness, simply bake them per the instructions (they’ll only need a few extra minutes!) and enjoy.
Happy Christmas baking!
White Chocolate Cranberry Scones
These easy, cake-like scones are perfect for the holidays. Studded with pearl sugar, tart dried cranberries, and bits of white chocolate, they will quickly become a family favorite. Easily made ahead and frozen!
For The Scones
- 3 cups all purpose flour
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 cup cold butter cut into small chunks
- 4 ounces cream cheese, cubed
- 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons buttermilk
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 3/4 cup white chocolate chips
- 3/4 cup craisins or dried cranberries
- pearl sugar, for sprinkling
For The Egg Wash
- 1 egg lightly beaten
- 1 tablespoon milk or heavy cream
- 1 small pinch salt
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, and kosher salt. Briefly whisk the ingredients together.
Using a pastry cutter, cut in the cold butter and cream cheese until the mixture resembles coarse sand.
In a separate bowl, add the buttermilk and one egg. With a fork, lightly beat to combine.
Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour the buttermilk/egg mixture in the middle. Using a wooden spoon or spatula, gently fold together the wet and dry ingredients until a loose dough comes together. Do not over mix.
Stir in the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries.
Using a small scoop, place rounded mounds of dough (3-4 Tablespoons each) on the prepared baking sheets, approximately 2 inches apart.
To make the egg wash, add an egg and a splash of cream or milk to a small bowl and whisk gently with a fork to combine.
Brush each scone with a light coating of egg wash and sprinkle generously with pearl sugar.
Bake for 10 minutes on the lower oven rack.
Rotate the pan and continue baking on a middle/upper rack for 6-7 more minutes, until just golden on top.
Note: If baking from frozen, bake 10 minutes on the lower rack, rotate, and then bake 10 additional minutes on the upper rack.
These scones can be frozen after baking or you can easily portion the raw dough into the scones and freeze quickly on a baking sheet before placing the frozen, unbaked scones into a freezer bag for later baking.