Saturday, March 2, 2013

Strawberry Ricotta Scones

One sweltering and blindingly sunny summer day an eternity ago, we went strawberry picking. After shortcakes, smoothies, balsamic strawberry jam with cracked pepper, and much strawberry limeade, we ended up with about 5 pounds of berries in the freezer, where they've been hanging out gathering ice crystals ever since. Obviously, it's time to use them before the next strawberry season rolls around, but any old smoothie won't do for these conserved nibble-size beauts. Hard-earned berries require something special.
A few months ago I made these egg-free Blackberry Meyer Lemon Ricotta Scones and I haven't been able to shake their legacy since. Is there a better place to nestle sweet tender summer berries in the dead of winter than in between flaky warm layers of whole wheat ricotta scones? I for one think not.
Strawberry Ricotta Scones
adapted from The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1/3 cup sugar*
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 tbsp cold, unsalted butter
1 cup strawberries (fresh or frozen), coarsely chopped
3/4 cup ricotta cheese
1/3 cup buttermilk

*I upped the sugar just a tad from the original recipe because well, I like sugar, but what I really mean to say is that it offsets the tartness of these particular strawberries. Let your berries be your guide and if yours are particularly sweet, feel free to reduce down to 1/4 cup of sugar.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and line a baking sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together both flours, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 forks, cut the cold butter into the flour mixture until the largest bits are about the size of a small pea. Be patient. It will happen.
Chop the berries coarsely (some big hunks are good!) and add to the flour mixture. Stir to combine.
Add the ricotta and buttermilk all at once. Stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Knead the dough a few times with your hands then dump it out onto a well-floured surface. Pat the dough into a round about 2 inches high. You can add a little more flour to the top of the dough to prevent it from sticking to your hands if it's super sticky.
Use a sharp knife and a steady hand to slice the round into 8 even wedges. Carefully transfer each wedge to the prepared baking sheet.
Bake 15-18 minutes until the scones are golden brown and dry and crisp at the edges. Remove the pan from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring the scones to a wire rack to cool completely.
If you really want to do it up, serve them alongside balsamic strawberry jam with cracked pepper or vanilla mascarpone cream. May the sweet flavor sustain you until the return of berry season!

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