Pear and Chocolate Scones

by Boon and Boys


Every so often I think about becoming a vegan (not just a vegetarian).  As strange as it sounds, having Henry and breastfeeding him got me thinking about this even more.  The first time I saw him on sonogram was really early, when he was just a little sac.  During the ultrasound, the doctor pointed at Henry and said, "here is the yolk."  Since then I've had trouble separating eggs from babies.  I apologize if you didn't want that image so skip ahead (I promise the next paragraph will be safe) if you don't want to hear the rest of my vegan inspired thoughts.  Also, while breastfeeding and feeling painful engorgement in the early days, I couldn't help but think of cows and wonder if they experience similar pain while being milked.  While I haven't decided to go that route yet, I am trying to limit my use of eggs in my homemade baked goods, substituting other ingredients where possible.  My next step is making homemade almond milk to use in place of cow's milk in my recipes. If you already have a dairy milk substitute and want to use it in this recipe, go ahead.  I'm not sure how a butter substitute would do perform, but if you try it, let me know.

So, all that being said, I decided to shoot for an egg-free version of my favorite scone.  I adore this scone, but usually avoid it because it has always seemed labor intensive to me.  Maybe it's because my definition of labor intensive has changed, but this didn't seem bad at all.  Also, the pears were slightly riper than I normally use so it made cutting them much easier.

Here are my pears.  You can go with any kind of pear.  I usually just use these because they are the easiest pear to find.  I've also don't a mixture of different pears before.  That is really good.  Also, less ripe pears fair better than riper pears in this recipe.

Peal them.

Cut them in half.

Core them.  Being careful not to cut yourself.

And then cut them into squares.  A fairly easy way to do this is to turn the half face down, and cut them length wise (about 1/2 inch wide) and then width wise (again about 1/2 inch wide).

Place them on a pan and put them in the oven for 10 minutes.

At the 10 minute mark, take the tray out and use a spatula to stir them around, flipping them so the bottom of the pears now face up.  You don't have to make sure all of them change directions, but it helps them roast more evenly.

While the pears are roasting, I cut up my butter.  To do this, I cut the butter width wise in about 1/2 inch segments.  Then I cut it in half length wise, and turn it on it's side to cut it again in half length wise.  

The butter wants to stick together, but I do my best to peal the cubes apart, and put them in a bowl in the refrigerator until I'm ready to use them.

When the pears are done, they should feel slightly dry to the touch.  It's okay if you eat a few here.  They're yummy!

Transfer them to a plate and put them in the freezer.  Make sure you spread them out as much as possible because the ones at the bottom won't cool off if their pear friends are covering them.

All they had at the grocery store was this dark chocolate bar.  Usually I prefer a higher quality, really high percentage dark chocolate for these scones.  Unfortunately my good chocolate didn't make it on the trip out to Alabama (tear).  You can also use chocolate chips if you prefer.

This chocolate was really soft so it was easy to break (positive), but I didn't want it to melt too much during the baking process.  To help prevent that, I put the chunks in a bowl and kept them refrigerated until I was ready to use them.  Had I known the chocolate would be so soft, I would have kept the bar in the freezer before opening it.

Now that the pears are cooling and the chocolate and butter are cut, it is time to mix together the dry ingredients.

Next comes crumbling in the butter.  Normally I use my hands for this step, but because I have a bad cut on my left middle finger (darn knives), I tried to use the two fork method.  I gave up on this method rather quickly and stuck with using my right hand to mix in the butter.  To do this, I'll usually press the butter cubes between my fingers in the four mixture.  

I keep doing this until most of the big cubes are gone.

Now, add in your cooled pears and buttermilk.  I used lemon juice and milk as my buttermilk substitute again.  The brown flakes in the milk are because I got a little crazy with the flour.

Mix until just incorporated.  You don't want to overmix here.  If you made your own buttermilk like I did, but realize you need more milk for the batter to come together, don't worry about making more buttermilk (you are welcome to, but), you can just add some more milk.  Mixing with your hands here helps as long as you don't mind getting messy.  Then add your chocolate and mix until the chunks are evenly dispersed.

Most scone recipes will call for you to form your scones into a round and cut them.  You are welcome to do that, but I always feel like it's an unnecessary extra step.  Instead, I just grab some of the batter and free form it.  My first batch I formed into triangles, and my second batch I made circular scones.  You can use your creativity here to make whatever shape you like.

I'll talk more about it below, but next time I'm going to experiment with making them a little thinner.

Lesson learned: clean the pear juice off your baking sheet before baking again unless you want a mess!

Don't they look delicious, though!

I switched to parchment paper this time because I didn't want even more burnt pear juice.

I think these scones are so pretty!

Don't worry if they break.  I always just use that as an excuse to eat the smaller of the broken half and any of the rogue pear chunks.

The consistency of these scones was a little more cake-like and fluffier than my normal scones.  They also seemed a little less sweet.  Part of what I am missing is the bite of the chocolate.  While I tried to harden the chocolate a little bit by putting them in the refrigerator before baking, I think Hershey's chocolate is just soften in general.  In the future, I'd stick with another chocolate so my chunks are actually chunks and not just slightly melted chocolate.  Also, next time I will make more scones by making them thinner.  I think that will give them a little more crunch and less density to them.  To sweeten them and also give a little more crunch, I might also experiment with topping them with some coarse sugar before baking.  All that said, they are still delicious and I will stick with these egg-free ones in the future.

I also always freeze my scones once cooled.  I'll leave a couple out because I usually have to eat a few on the day I baked them, but for the remainder, I either wrap them in aluminum foil and place them in a freezer bag or just place them all in a freezer bag unwrapped (if I'm feeling lazy or short on time).  I prefer to eat my scones heated anyways so freezing them works well for me.  This way, they last longer, and I just pop one in the microwave, heat it for approximately 30 seconds, and I am good to go.

Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 4 pears, not too ripe, peeled and cored
  • 2 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, cold and cubed
  • 1- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2-1 cup dark chocolate chunks

Instructions:

  1. Cut pears into approximately 1/2-1 inch wide cubes
  2. Place pear chunks on a lined baking sheet and bake at 375 for 20 minutes, tossing them halfway through.  
  3. Place pears on a plate and set in freezer.
  4. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
  5. Crumble in butter to create course crumbs, using a pastry blender, food processor, two forks, or your hands.
  6. Mix in the pear chunks and buttermilk until just combined.
  7. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
  8. Shape dough into scones (shape of choice) approximately 1 to 1 1/4 inches thick.
  9. Bake on lined baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.
  10. Transfer to a baking sheet to cool (or eat)