A few months back, we picked up a couple of scones from the Clinton Street Baking Company for breakfast. Adam has brought some of these scones to a work meeting a few days earlier, and couldn’t stop talking about how fantastic they were. As a fan of any sort of baked good, I was more than happy to be an accomplice to his revisit.
I went with a fairly standard scone that was speckled with some sort of fruit – raspberries, I believe – and it was, sure enough, delicious. But the scone that Adam couldn’t stop talking about was this chive and goat cheese scone. To me, it sounded contrary of what a good scone should be – sweet! – but Clinton Street had never steered me wrong before, so I gave it a nibble.
And boy, was I blown away! The natural crumbly, slightly sweet nature of the scone was amped up by the fragrant earthiness of the chives, and the goat cheese added just a hint of tangy flavor. The overall layers of flavor were off the wall, and I made a mental note to revisit them in the future.
Enter this weekend – Mother’s Day! Since I wasn’t making a homemade brunch for my mom this year (instead, we went out to eat), I wanted to incorporated a bit of that “breakfast in bed” sentiment into my gift to her. Since both of my parents loves scones (you should see them around those Starbucks scones!), I decided that would be my baked good of choice. Then I remembered Clinton Street, and as I mused about herbs, sage popped into my mind. Quickly followed by browned butter. I think you can see where this is going.
A rustic, soft, creamy vanilla scone perfumed with the flavor of fresh sage leaves, topped with a thick, gooey brown butter glaze. Some of my favorite tastes, all wrapped up in one old-fashioned confection. Working with these flavors in a new way as I was, I just needed to set aside one scone as a taste tester – but one bite in, I realized that all the remaining scones were now in danger – these were that good! I’ve said at least three times this weekend that these are the best thing to ever come out of my kitchen – and this may very well be true. Just ask my mom!
Oh yes… and I even got carried away and candied the left over sage leaves as a bit of decoration – a simple step that adds a really lovely, quaint touch to the scones. These scones are perfection with sage and vanilla and lightly browned butter, but the essential recipe can be customized with any of your favorite mix ins. They come together in 10 minutes and take just 10 more to bake, which means they can be on your table for brunch (or dessert) in no time at all.
So really, how can you resist?
Vanilla Sage Scones with Brown Butter Glaze – Makes 8 scones
Adapted from America’s Test Kitchen
For the scones
- 2 cups (10 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 3 tablespoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 5 tablespoons chilled, unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of minced fresh sage
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
For the glaze
- 1 stick (4 ounces) of unsalted butter
- 1 cup of powdered sugar, sifted
- 1/4 teaspoon of vanilla extract
For the candied sage leaves
- Sage leaves
- 1 1/2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling
- 1 tablespoon of water
1. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees and adjust rack to center.
2. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt. Whisk for a few seconds to combine.
3. Add in cold, cubed butter and using a pastry cutter, two knives, or your fingers, work quickly to cut the butter into the flour until the mixture resembles course cornmeal with some larger bits (note – if using a food processor, pulse 12 times to combine butter and flour). Add minced sage and toss to combine.
4. Using a rubber spatula, fold in heavy cream and vanilla extract until dough is just combined. Turn out onto a surface and knead by hand for a few seconds until the dough comes together into a sticky ball.
5. Shape the ball into a large disk, about 3/4 of an inch thick. Cut the disk into 8 triangular slices (like a pie). Transfer to a greased baking sheet. Bake until the scones are lightly browned, about 10 – 12 minutes. Remove from pan immediately and cool.
6. While scones cool, make the browned butter glaze. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and cook until it bubbles and just begins to brown. Remove from heat and swirl in hot pot until a golden brown color is achieved. Remove from pan immediately and place in large bowl. Add vanilla extract and sifted powdered sugar to butter, and stir to combine.
7. Once scones have cooled, gently dip the top of each in the brown butter glaze. Allow thirty minutes for glaze to set.
8. To make candied sage leaves, add sage leaves, sugar, and water to a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until the sugar begins to boil and large bubbles form. Remove from heat and stir to ensure leaves are fully coated. Transfer leaves to parchment paper and lay flat. Sprinkle with more sugar and allow to harden in the refrigerator. Top each scone with one leaf.