Mini Eggnog Scones / by Chelsea Zwieg

My junior year of college I studied abroad in London and, while I generally try to stay away from stories that start with "this one time when I studied abroad...." at the risk of being that person, I can't talk about scones and not talk about London. So, sorry bout it. While I was there, I interned at a small theatre/actor center and on my last day the office staff, who were horrified to learn that I had never had a 'proper' English tea, surprised me with a cream tea complete with scones, jam and a whole lot of opinions about how they should be eaten. I guess scone eating method differs by region and, since they were all from different parts of the country, a non-stop scone debate broke out regularly. So for my farewell tea they each instructed me on how to eat my scones (just jam, jam then cream, cream then jam....) and waited patiently for me to choose a winner. I don't even remember who I picked and I sincerely hope they never read this because, real talk: they all tasted exactly the same to my scone-basic American palate. But it was still one of my favorite parts of the semester. The fact that they cared enough to bake me scones, teach me about their traditions and how they ate scones growing up, and ruthlessly defend plain jam vs. cream and jam made me so happy. And now I just want to cry a little. And also go back to London. 

Scones were also one of the first things that I learned to make when I started working at the bakery. Naturally that made me all London-weepy but it also introduced me to my own scone beliefs. I don't have much feeling about what gets spread on them, but I've got lots of feeling about what is put in them. There are so many scone recipes out there. Some use just eggs. Some use just cream. Some use milk. But I am here to tell you, the very best scones are the ones that use eggs and heavy cream. Nothing compares to a dry, craggy, slightly sweet scone and you can't quite get there without both. Also very important: do not overmix. It is so easy to overmix a scone and when you pull them out of the oven and feel like you're munching on a rock you'll know what went wrong. When you turn the dough out onto the counter knead it once to pull everything together (extra bits of flour, little stray add-ins etc.), then once more before folding it over and shaping it into a ball. Any more than that and you will lose some of that tender, flaky, crumbliness. 

I do make one exception to my eggs and cream rule and that is eggs and eggnog. The same consistency of cream but with holiday flavor coming out it's ears. I also had to add in some eggnog glaze because just a little eggnog is never enough. If boozy eggnog is your thing, you can substitute rum extract for the vanilla in the scones and add a splash or two of rum to the glaze. Just be sure to pour a little of the extra eggnog in your moose mug. 

Mini Eggnog Scones

Makes 16 mini scones

| Ingredients

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
  • 1/2 cup eggnog
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla

Eggnog glaze: 

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tbsp. eggnog
  • 1 tsp. water
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. cinnamon

| Instructions

  • Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or your fingertips to work it into the flour until only pea-sized bits of butter remain. Be sure not to overwork it, you still want some clumps of butter. 
  • In a small bowl, whisk the eggnog, eggs and vanilla. Add to the dry ingredients and stir with a wooden spoon until it just comes together into a shaggy dough (it's ok if there is a little bit of flour not yet worked in). Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead once or twice until it comes together. Divide the dough in half.
  • Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Shape the first half into a ball and flatten the ball into a disk a little less than an inch thick. Use a knife or bench scraper to cut the dough into eight triangles. Arrange the scones on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining dough. Place the baking sheets in the freezer for 15 minutes (if you have a crammed freezer like me you might have to consolidate them onto one tray for freezing). Don't skip the freezing part, it's the key to a tall, flaky scone. 
  • To make the glaze, sift the powdered sugar into a small bowl. Add the eggnog, water and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the spices and stir to combine. Add more spice, to taste. 
  • Preheat oven to 425. Bake scones 15-18 minutes, until golden brown.  If they are higher up in the oven, start checking around 12 minutes. Let cool slightly then spoon the glaze over the top while they are still warm.