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Cheddar, Parmesan, and Cracked Pepper Scones

These are amazing.  I’m calling them savory scones, but you might recognize them as a rich version of cheddar biscuits.  I really don’t care what you call them as long as you make them for someone special.

But really, what is the difference between a biscuit and a scone?  Opinions vary on this subject, so I’ll just tell you what I think rather than pretending to know a definitive answer.  I think that scones should be richer than biscuits.  They are a special treat, so I don’t hold back on the butter or cream or whatever else I happen to feel like using.

I really didn’t hold back when I was developing this recipe.  These scones are butter-rich and filled with delicious aged cheddar and Parmigiano Reggiano.  As if that wasn’t enough, I brushed the tops with smoked paprika butter before popping them in the oven.

You’re right.  That was a good idea.

These scones are put together just like biscuits.  If you’ve never made biscuits or scones before, you might want to read this post before giving these a try.

First, the butter is cut or rubbed into the flour until the mixture looks like a bit like coarse crumbs and the larger pieces of butter are about the size of peas.  I like to use my fingertips to rub the butter into the flour, but you can also use a pastry blender or two knives (a food processor also works great if you don’t mind cleaning it).

Next, the shredded cheeses are added to the flour mixture and stirred in before the liquid is added.  Make sure to reserve a couple tablespoons of shredded parmesan to sprinkle on the scones before baking.

After the cheese has been stirred in, combine the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce and add it to the dry ingredients.

I always use a wooden spoon to mix my dough.  Nothing else feels right to me!

Mix until all the flour has been incorporated and the dough gathers together into a big shaggy ball.

Sprinkle a bit of flour onto your work surface and dump out the dough.

Knead it a couple times to bring it all together, but don’t worry about the dough being completely smooth.  The key is to work the dough as little as possible.

Divide the dough in half.

Shape the two pieces into circles, about 1-inch thick.

Cut each circle into 8 equal pieces.

Move all the scones onto the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Mix two tablespoons of melted butter with 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.

Brush the tops of the unbaked scones with the smoked paprika butter.

Sprinkle the tops of the scones with a little bit of shredded parmesan.

Bake the scones at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes or until the edges have turned golden brown.  Move them to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before eating.  Serve warm or at room temperature.

Be careful where you let these cool… my cheddar-loving cat Thumbelina was about to help herself when I caught her!

As mentioned in a previous post, I have been chosen by McCormick to participate in the McCormick Real Gourmets program. I have been paid by them and I received a big box full of McCormick Gourmet spices. I have been using McCormick Gourmet for years, and am thrilled for the opportunity to explore more of their spices and blends.  I used the following McCormick Gourmet spices when creating this savory scone recipe: Black Tellicherry Peppercorns, Ground Mustard, and Smoked Paprika.

Cheddar, Parmesan, and Cracked Pepper Scones
Yield: 16 mini scones.

1 1/4 cups cake flour
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground mustard
1/2 cup (one stick or 1/4 pound) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (keep butter in refrigerator until ready to use)
1/2 cup shredded aged cheddar cheese
1/2 cup shredded Parmigiano Reggiano, divided
1/2 cup cold buttermilk
1 teaspoon sriracha chili sauce or other hot chili sauce (optional)
1 large egg
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

2.  In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pepper, and ground mustard.  Rub butter into the flour mixture using your fingertips (or use a pastry blender or two knives) until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in the the shredded cheddar and most of the shredded parmesan (reserve about 2 tablespoons to sprinkle over the tops of the scones).

3. In a medium bowl or large measuring cup, whisk together buttermilk, sriracha, and egg.  Pour buttermilk mixture into the flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon just until a ball of dough comes together.  Dump the dough onto a lightly floured surfaced and knead a couple of times (using a bit of flour if the dough is too sticky) just to bring the dough together.

4. Cut the dough into two equal pieces and flatten each piece into a circle, about 1″ thick.  Cut each circle into 8 triangles and move them to a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Stir together the melted butter and smoked paprika and lightly brush the butter mixture over the tops of the scones using a pastry brush.  Sprinkle the scones with the remaining shredded parmesan cheese.

5.  Bake scones in a preheated 425 degree oven for about 15 minutes or until golden brown along the edges.  Let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before eating.  Enjoy warm or at room temperature.

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