Gently sweet cherries burst with luscious bright juices, taunting the pile of warm dark chocolate, daring it to a contest of flavor. Every contest needs a venue. In this case, a warm buttery scone. Feathery soft flour falls gently into a bowl, followed by a hint of sugar, a pinch of salt, some baking powder. Rich yellow butter get cuts in, followed by a vivid fresh egg, the velvety scented extract of vanilla, and rich milk, a veritable rush of dairy. The batter comes together swiftly, and the stage is set. Cherries and chocolate giddily dive into the batter and are swirled in, creating a sticky dense faintly sweet mass. A few quick flips with a dough scraper and the sticky mass is formed into six rough balls that are gently laid on some parchment paper. One last bit of dressing, a smattering of vanilla sugar sprinkled over top all, and the contest stage is set.
For twenty minutes, the cherries and the chocolate fight for dominance. In the end, the chocolate melts into oblivion and the cherries slump, exhausted, into the dough. They gaze at each other through the shimmery dense heat, and solemnly declare a truce. But ultimately, there is still a winner. The tongue of whomever eats one of these.
Cherry Chocolate Scones – makes six large scones
1 generous cup of dark cherries, pitted and chopped.
2 oz. extra bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
7 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 425°. Parchment line a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, mix together the dry ingredients. Using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your hands, cut in the butter until coarse crumbs are formed. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg, milk, and vanilla extract. Pour into flour mixture, mix just until combined. Add cherries and chocolate and mix gently, just enough to combine. This will be a very sticky mass. If it feels too sticky, add a splash more flour, but you want this to be a wet dough. Empty bowl onto a floured surface and shape into a rough rectangle. You can flip it, but try to handle as little as possible. Using a dough scraper, cut into roughly six pieces. Use the dough scraper to pick up each piece and roughly form into a ball, then gently lay the balls onto the parchment. Sprinkle the tops with vanilla sugar (just sugar with a vanilla bean pod shoved in it, if you don’t have such a thing, regular ol’ sugar is fine). Place into the oven, bake for 15 minutes. If a toothpick stuck in the middle comes out clean, they are done. Let cool on the pan. These will be fairly delicate, and delectably buttery.
Notes: The cherries lose some of their punch all cut up. I would be tempted to use whole cherries or alternately get dried cherries and soak them in a little brandy before adding them. I don’t have brandy, but this would seem a reasonable excuse to get some. But then again, not pitting and cutting cherries means you are denied the slightly uncomfortable sight of cherry juice bleeding all over your fingers and sink.