Maple syrup is such a seductive flavor. It’s deep and sensual, subtly sweet as it wraps its way around your tongue. Growing up, my family never ate maple syrup on anything. In fact, we never had pancakes or waffles for breakfast; they were considered too foreign and rich for my parents palate. And so, those little packets of imitation maple syrup that came along with my french toast sticks in the school cafeteria were to me, a real treat. There’s always something that’s intrigued me about it; it comes from a tree! The fact that it has to be tapped out so slowly and painstakingly from a limited natural source makes it all the more special for me. Unlike some, I’m not too particular about my maple syrup. I have no idea what grade A or B even means, though I’m sure there’s a significant difference. It all tastes lovely to me, especially over my banana buckwheat pancakes, a bowl of Greek yogurt, or a crisp slab of Scrapple.
Here, I’ve incorporated it into delicate, buttery scones. The flavors are mild, so if you like a bit more oomph, add more than 1/4 cup to the recipe. I brought a plateful of these to a brunch party a few weekends ago. They were a hit… I came home with an empty plate of crumbs.
Maple Pecan Scones
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
makes 8 scones or 16 mini scones
8 Tbsp unsalted butter, frozen solid, plus additional 2 Tbsp, melted for brushing
1/2 cup whole milk
1/2 cup sour cream
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup sugar, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup toasted pecan pieces
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. With the large holes on a box grater, grate the 8 tablespoons of frozen butter. Place grated butter in freezer until needed. Melt 2 tablespoons of remaining ungrated butter and set aside.
2. Whisk together milk and sour cream in medium bowl; refrigerate until needed. Whisk flour, 1/2 cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and lemon zest in chilled medium bowl. Add frozen butter to flour mixture and toss with fingers until thoroughly coated.
3. Add milk mixture to flour mixture; fold with spatula until just combined. With rubber spatula, transfer dough to liberally floured work surface. Dust surface of dough with flour; with floured hands, knead dough 6 to 8 times, until it just holds together in ragged ball, adding flour as needed to prevent sticking.
4. Roll dough into approximate 12-inch square. Fold dough into thirds like a business letter, using bench scraper to release dough if it sticks to countertop. Lift short ends of dough and fold into thirds again to form approximate 4-inch square. Transfer dough to plate lightly dusted with flour and chill in freezer 5 minutes.
5. Transfer dough to floured work surface and roll into approximate 12-inch square again. Spread the maple syrup evenly over surface of dough, then press pecans down so they are slightly embedded in the dough. Using a bench scraper or thin metal spatula, loosen dough from work surface. Roll dough, pressing to form tight log. Lay seam-side down and press log into 12 by 4-inch rectangle. Using sharp, floured knife, cut rectangle crosswise into 4 equal rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally to form 2 triangles and transfer to parchment-lined baking sheet.
6. Brush tops with melted butter and sprinkle with remaining tablespoon sugar. Bake until tops and bottoms are golden brown, 18 to 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool 10 minutes before serving.