Monday, September 19, 2016

Apple Cinnamon Scones with Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 8 scones
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen

I’m a big fan of Georgette Heyer regency romance books. Our book group has been reading books together monthly for over 25 years and in that time not one book has been a “romance.”  So, I dared to suggest The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer when it came for my turn to choose.  It was our turn to host the meeting and so, of course, I made a selection of scones, Pumpkin Harvest Scones, Orange and DarkChocolate Buttermilk Scones, and since was apple-picking season, I wanted to try scones that would featured this fall fruit.  I was relieved and delighted to learn that they LOVED the book and not surprisingly, the scones as well.  Serve these scones plain or drizzle (or douse) them with Salted Caramel Sauce.*  This recipe calls for freezing and then shredding the butter, which turned out to be a great method for incorporating the all-important cold butter.  Pop the scones in a hot oven to make the butter melt, release steam and create pockets of air…the secret to making scones flaky and crisp on the outside and tender on the inside.

2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for hands and work surface
2½ teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon salt
½ cup unsalted butter, frozen
½ cup heavy cream
1 large egg
½ cup packed light or dark brown sugar or Sucanat
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 heaping cup peeled and chopped apple (I used Granny Smith and Jonathan.)
1 Tablespoon heavy cream
1 Tablespoon sparkling sugar
½ cup salted caramel sauce* (Recipe below.)

Preheat oven to 400°F. Adjust baking rack to the middle-low position. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk the flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Grate the frozen butter.  Toss the grated butter into the flour mixture and combine it with a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Set aside.
In a small bowl, whisk the cream, egg, brown sugar, and vanilla together. Drizzle it over the flour mixture and then toss the mixture together with a rubber spatula until everything appears moistened. Slowly and gently fold in the chopped apple. Do not overwork the dough at any point. (When you over mix scone dough it will over-develop the gluten, which makes the scone tough.) Dough will be a little wet. Work the dough into a ball with floured hands as best you can and transfer to a floured surface. Press into a neat 8″ disc and cut into 8 equal wedges with a very sharp knife. Place scones at least 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Brush scones with 1 tablespoon cream and sprinkle with sparkling sugar. (This makes them shiny and gives a little extra crunch.)  Bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly golden and cooked through. Remove from the oven and allow them to cool for a few minutes before drizzling with salted caramel sauce.

Make ahead tip: Scones are best enjoyed right away, though leftover scones keep well at room temperature for 2 extra days. Scones freeze well, up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and heat up to your liking before enjoying.

**Salted Caramel Sauce

Makes 1 cup of sauce
Husband-Tested in Alice’s Kitchen
This delicious, decadent make-ahead sauce is perfect for cakes, cupcakes, cookies, ice cream, cheesecake, sweet breads and Apple Cinnamon Scones!

1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut up into 6 pieces
½ cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt

Heat granulated sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a high heat resistant rubber spatula or wooden spoon.
Sugar will form clumps and eventually melt into a thick brown, amber-colored liquid as you continue to stir. Be careful not to burn.
Once sugar is completely melted, immediately add the butter. Be careful in this step because the caramel will bubble rapidly when the butter is added.
Stir the butter into the caramel until it is completely melted, about 2 minutes.
Very slowly, drizzle in 1/2 cup of heavy cream while stirring. Since the heavy cream is colder than the caramel, the mixture will rapidly bubble and/or splatter when added.
Allow the mixture to boil for 1 minute. It will rise in the pan as it boils.
Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon of salt. Allow the sauce to cool down before using.

Make ahead tip: You can make this caramel in advance. Make sure it is covered tightly and store it for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Warm the caramel up for a few seconds before using in a recipe. This caramel is OK at room temperature for a day if you're traveling or gifting it.

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