Over the Christmas holidays, my sweetie took me on an exciting trip to the big city, NYC. We walked and walked and walked, and we ate and ate and ate, (and we froze and froze and froze). I made the mistake of bringing only my Vancouver-weather rubber boots to stomp around in. Did you know that uninsulated rubber boots act as individual foot refrigerators in cold weather, the way they trap and recirculate damp, frigid air? So because of my silly choice of footwear, we froze. And because we froze, we ate - for every few blocks we walked, we had to stop in somewhere to warm up. We found all kinds of little hole-in-the wall shops and cafes where we were happy to munch on cupcakes, rice pudding, cardamom coffee, dosas, thin-crust pizzas... As far as problems go, this one was rather favorable, the freezing necessitating the eating - my tummy was happy enough to more than make up for my toes' misery.
One of my favorite places we stumbled into to thaw our extremities was a little tea house called Alice's Tea Cup in the upper west side. The entrance was just like a descent into the rabbit hole, and the inside was magically decorated with twinkly lights, keyhole windows, stained glass, and antiques. They had a multiple-page menu of teas and a selection of sweets to accompany them, including a variety of fresh scones with cream and fruit preserves. I hungrily devoured a warm strawberry-chocolate scone, piled with sweet whipped cream. And it was so scrumptious that it has been on my mind ever since.
Happily, the ones I recreated in my kitchen were every bit as delicious as I hoped they'd be. I found some gorgeous, flavourful strawberries at the market, which is rare around here except for about 6 weeks in the summer. They lended themselves beautifully to a fluffy, lightly sweetened scone, with chunks of milk chocolate that put it over the moon. Served warm with a spoonful of creme fraiche, they are absolutely dreamy.
Buttermilk Scones with Strawberries and Milk Chocolate Chunks
Adapted from "Our Finest Buttermilk Scones" in The Canadian Living Baking Book
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 tbsp sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup cold butter, cubed
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup hulled, sliced strawberries
1/2 cup milk chocolate chunks
1. Line a large, rimless baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
2. In large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using pastry blender, or two knives, cut in butter until crumbly. In separate bowl, whisk buttermilk with egg. Pour over flour mixture. Stir with fork to make a soft, ragged dough. With a wooden spoon, gently mix in strawberries and chocolate chunks.
3. With lightly floured hands, press dough into ball. On floured surface, knead gently ten times. Pat out into a 10 x 7-inch rectangle. Cut rectangle into 4 squares, and cut each diagonally in half to make 8 triangles. Place on prepared pan. Bake in center of oven until golden, 15-18 minutes. Transfer to rack and let cool.