When recipe titles reveal pretty much what the best ingredients are in a recipe, me likey. So we have cherries – chaching! Almonds – no better nut for this combination! And ricotta – the soft cheese of choice! I like, I like and I like again. Sign me up. There was a time when having to buy whole wheat flour might have deterred me from trying the recipe (we just don’t have much of a need for it in my house), tastes change and this time? The change was good.
First of all, I debated using our ingredient shot this time because I fubar-ed it and put in the whole milk ricotta instead of the part-skim I actually bought for this, and I also put in the baking soda instead of the baking powder. Just be aware, I’m a doofus, and you should totally use baking powder. The ricotta’s up to you, but I wanted to use the part-skim variety to experience first-hand how it works in these scones. The good news is – it totes works!
Dried fruit isn’t the prettiest of stuff, but it’s tasty stuff! These tart/sweet cherries get a bath in some warm orange juice before getting chopped into smaller pieces.
As with a lot of scone and biscuit recipes, it’s time to cut some very cold, cubed butter into the dry ingredients. Need a more visual reference for the process? Check out this week’s short video tutorial on our facebook page!
The wet ingredients for these particular scones involve the part-skim ricotta, orange zest, sugar, vanilla, buttermilk and canola oil. It’s important not to over mix the scone dough at this point. Literally mix just until the wet and dry ingredients come together. The dough will likely be falling apart and a little dry in appearance, as opposed to a very wet cake batter. It’s also a lot easier to put aside your spoon about halfway through the mixing and use your hands to get the rest of the dry ingredients to combine. You’re not kneading the dough, just making sure all the dry stuff at the bottom works in. Mixing too much may make your scones tough instead of soft once baked.
We took the measurement of about one quarter cup per scone literally. Gather up some of the dough and lightly press it into the measuring cup. It releases very easily onto your cookie sheet and if it seems like it all just wants to fall apart into a few pieces, go ahead and gently cup your hands over them to press them together a little.
Last but not least, let’s brush on a wash, this time a mixture of one egg and a little more buttermilk. This helps the scones brown and they’ll get a slight sheen to them once baked.
Like with most baked goods, we advise taking your scones out of the oven a few minutes prior to the allotted final baking time to check them by eye. Ours were done a few minutes before. They don’t need to be a dark brown, just browned a little on the sides and slightly on top will do. Nobody wants a dry scone!
These reminded me of scones we’d eat sometimes while touring through England one summer. They turned out the perfect texture – soft but this time with a bit more bite to them thanks to the wheat flour. I found I really liked the added texture the wheat supplied, so the good news is I’ll be making more and using up the wheat flour! The cherries and almonds were a great pairing, but if you’re not a cherry person and still want some kind of fruit in there, you can try dried apricots, currants, raisins, even dates if those are your kind of thing. These are not too sweet at all and make a great treat with coffee or tea. Can’t wait to make them again!
Cherry Almond Ricotta Drop Scones
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cook Time: about 15 minutes Level: Easy Makes: about 10 scones
- 1/2 cup dried tart cherries
- 1/4 cup fresh orange juice
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese (such as Calabro)
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
- 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon fat-free buttermilk, divided
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 4.5 ounces whole-grain pastry flour (about 1 cup)
- 3.4 ounces unbleached all-purpose flour (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, diced
- 1/3 cup sliced almonds, toasted
- 1 large egg, lightly beaten
Preheat oven to 425°.
Combine cherries and juice in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave at HIGH 1 minute; let stand 5 minutes. Drain; discard liquid. Finely chop cherries.
Combine ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon sugar, rind, and vanilla in a medium bowl. Reserve 1/2 cup of the ricotta mixture. Add 1/3 cup buttermilk and canola oil to remaining ricotta mixture, stirring until smooth.
Weigh or lightly spoon flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flours, remaining 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large bowl; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add cherries and almonds; toss. Add buttermilk mixture; stir just until combined.
Drop dough by 1/4 cupfuls 3 inches apart onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Combine egg and remaining 1 tablespoon buttermilk, stirring with a whisk. Gently brush top and sides of dough with egg mixture. Bake for 15 to 16 minutes or until golden (check prior to this time in case they are done sooner). Remove from pan; cool slightly on a wire rack.
Beat the reserved ricotta mixture at medium speed 3 minutes or until fluffy. Serve with warm scones.
We went with the spooning flour method and just did full one-cup measures. Worked fine!
Ours did not spread a whole lot, would have been safe placing them closer together, two inches apart or so.
We forgot the ricotta topping needed to be beaten a little but didn’t want to lug out the stand mixer or even a hand mixer, so we just whipped it with a whisk by hand a little till my arm couldn’t take it any more. Not sure there’s enough to even bother beating with a mixer.