Scones are an easy afternoon treat to make. They don’t need many ingredients and don’t take long to put together. I also like the fact that a basic scone recipe is so versatile and can include just about anything that I have in the kitchen – and sometimes I find inspiration for a new combination just by looking through my pantry. These Dried Apricot, Ginger and White Chocolate Scones are a perfect example, because they feature a combination of three things that I just about always have on hand.
The scones include dried apricots, candied ginger and white chocolate. The apricots have an earthy sweetness to them that pairs very nicely with the spice of the ginger. I added white chocolate for a little extra sweetness, but the white chocolate also lends a nice dairy note to the scones. It’s a combination of ingredients that I think would be good in many different types of recipes (and one I’ll use again in the future!), but it works well here because all three ingredients are dry and easily incorporated into the dough.
The dough is straightforward, with butter cut in to a mixture of flour, sugar, salt and leaveners. The finished scones are tender on the inside and crisp on the outside (baking them to a dark gold, as I did here, gives them a beautifully caramelized exterior), with a nice hint of butter and vanilla. Most of the flavor comes from the mix-ins, so you’ll see all three elements shine as you eat them. I chopped my apricots and ginger into relatively small pieces, but fee free to leave then chunkier to give your scones clearer pops of color, if you prefer.
These are excellent the day the are made, but will keep quite well for another day or so when stored in an airtight container or bag.
Blondies are a great everyday treat to bake. They’re just as easy to make as a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but take much less time because they’re baked in a pan and sliced later, rather than being baked off one by one in multiple batches. The bar cookies also invite experimentation, because there are many flavors that go well in the chewy cookie base. I’ve used everything from chocolate to nuts in my blondies before, and put a spicier spin on these Chewy Walnut, Ginger and Toffee Blondies with some candied ginger.
Candied ginger is a great ingredient to work with in baking because it has a sharp, spicy sweetness and a hint of crunchiness from the sugar on the exterior of the ginger. The flavor is bright and bold, and if you buy larger pieces of ginger and chop them up yourself, you have a lot of control over how big of an impact the spicy ginger will have in your baking. Here, I’ve paired the ginger with buttery walnuts and bits of toffee and it is a blend of flavors that works out very well.
The blondies are chewy and have a slightly fudgy, brownie-like quality to them – although, of course, there is no chocolate in this recipe. The fudgy texture comes, in part, from the fact that there is no baking powder or baking soda in this recipe (something common to brownie recipes), so as the sugar caramelizes in the bars it leaves them with a rich, dense texture. The walnuts are crunchy and give the blondies a lot of texture, while the ginger adds a spicy punch and the toffee balances it out.
As with many recipes, I prefer to use toasted and lightly salted walnuts in this recipe. It makes the nuts a little bit more flavorful and gives them a little bit of an extra crunch. It also makes them stand out even more from the sweet toffee and spicy-sweet candied ginger because they introduce a salty element to the bars. That said, unsalted and even untoasted walnuts will still work very well in this recipe, lending a more subtle crunch to the finished blondies but a lot of buttery walnut flavor.
I have always been a fan of chai teas and often use the warm and spicy flavors found in masala chai for for inspiration when I’m looking for a way to spice things up in baking. Chai Snickerdoodles, for instance, are a favorite variation on classic snickerdoodles in my kitchen.
These scones are loaded with chai spices and have a very warm, satisfying flavor as a result. The spices I used include cinnamon, ginger, allspices, cardamom, coriander and nutmeg. You’ll get the best flavor if you check the dates on your spices to make sure they’re all fresh. The scones themselves are slightly crisp on the outside, and soft and tender inside. They are also full of small pieces of candied ginger that add even more spice to each bite. You can taste the butter right alongside all of those spices, and a hint of almond extract seems to brighten up all of the flavors. The scones are not too sweet, so I finished them off with a little cream cheese glaze.
Don’t be fooled by the long ingredient list for this recipe. The scones are no more difficult to make than any other scones, they simply include a lot of spices for flavor. I prefer to rub the butter in by hand when mixing up scone dough so I get a flakier finished product, but you can also mix this up by pulsing the butter into the flour mixture in the food processor. The glaze is optional, but adds a nice sweetness to the scones and gives them a polished look before serving. If you want to skip it, serve these scones with butter, jam or softened cream cheese – and perhaps a cup of chai tea, too!
Ginger is an incredibly versatile ingredient. Fresh ginger has that unmistakable bite to it and grates easily into sweet and savory dishes. Ground, dried ginger has a warmth to it that is unique, along with a mild flavor. My favorite kind of ginger is easily crystallised ginger, or candied ginger.
Ginger is candied in the same way that orange peels and many other fruits are candied: raw ginger is boiled in a sugar syrup until the flavor of the ginger is concentrated and the ginger is tender. Typically, the ginger is then rolled in sugar (although I’ve seen the same thing sold without a sugary exterior before) before being set out to dry. The size of the ginger varies. Some makers like to turn out huge logs of ginger, while other prefer to cut theirs down into thick rounds. The problem with both of these shapes is that when you chop them up for baking – which is probably one of the most popular uses for candied ginger other than as a straight snack – you get very little of the sugary coating that really adds a nice sweetness and crunch to baked goods.
Problem solved with one of my favorite ginger products: the Ginger People‘s Baker’s Cut Crystallized Ginger Chips. The ginger is chopped up into small, chocolate chip-sized bits before it is candied, so if you want to add it into muffins or cookies, all you need to do is open the package and pour them out. It saves a lot of time and the ginger tastes great. I love the extra sugary coating that you get on these and, aside from my personal preference, have found that they’re very helpful when it comes to winning over reluctant ginger-eaters.