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16 May 2011

Sweet savoury secret scones

Parmesan Coconut Tarragon Scones

It is time for the second round of the Secret Recipe Club. Already one month has passed since we opened the doors of this respectable and young establishment to all of you.
What is it about? Shall I repeat it? Yeah let's do it.
Amanda (LINK) during one of her many creative surges came up with the idea of opening a Club of bloggers that would love to do recipe hopping. This gives us the chance to try one of the recipes posted by another member of the group.
Last month I had the opportunity of browsing through Avanika's recipes and picked up this fabulously soft and airy cake. Naturally we are granted creative rights on the original recipe so I came up with my own version that I also served for my birthday party; worthless to say that I had a real hard time keeping the sticky fingers of my friends from snatching a whole quart of the cake for themselves.

This month I got assigned Jane's blog The Heritage Cook and also this time I picked up a sweet item to prepare.
I have been meaning to try and making them for a long time, since I first discovered them during one of my visits to London. These flaky and delicate pastries are actually pretty versatile and when served as sweet they are to die for with clotted cream and jam. Yes, I am talking about British scones; isn't your mouth already watering?
Scones are actually a very straightforward product belonging to the quick-bread category. They are made with grain flour or oats and raised thanks to baking powder. Their typical short (crumbly) texture is due to the way the fat is mixed into the flour.
The choice of the fat to use mainly distinguishes the British version from the American one. The first use butter while the second rely mostly on vegetable or animal shortening. This has naturally an influence on their texture since shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter producing a somewhat drier product.
British scones are often lightly sweetened and served either with coffee or tea. The somewhat neutral nature of scones can easily be brought into the savory realm with the addition of cheese in the dough. Dried fruits are instead a classical addition for the sweet ones.
The cooking method classically employed is baking but scones can also be cooked on a grilled (as are some of the Scottish ones) or even fried (particularly popular in New Zealand and Australia).

Given the freedom, I couldn't help myself but to try a lightly savory interpretation of cream scones.
Cream, milk, cow, right? Sure but why do we use cream and not milk or water? Cause we want a flaky product and not a door stopper. Cream has up to 30% of fat content so reducing the chances of creating gluten when mixed with the flour.
So this means that the essential ingredient we need is fat, why not use vegetable fat then? What about coconut? A flaky buttery pastry with coconut overtones, doesn't that sound good already?
And what if we acknowledge the good work of our grazing cows and add some Parmesan to them? Not much, just to give a light savoriness to the product.
So far we have dealt with somehow heavy fatty notes; we need to lift up the flavor profiles somehow. We could go citrus zests and this will produce a sweeter scone, what if we used herbs instead? Since we need something light, with the flavors already present we can choose essentially among dill, thyme, rosemary, parsley, chervil and... tarragon.
So here we go:

Coconut cream scones with Parmesan and tarragon

Parmesan Coconut Tarragon Scones

Ingredients (make a ca 26cm loaf):
  • 260g all-purpose flour
  • 2.5tbsp grated Parmesan
  • 1.5tbsp sugar
  • 1/2tsp black peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/4tsp salt
  • 2.5tsp baking powder
  • 1/2tsp salt
  • 1tbsp finely chopped tarragon, 4-5 sprigs
  • 115g ice-cold, unsalted butter, cut into cubes
  • 1 egg
  • 245g coconut cream

While you prepare the dough, warm up you oven to 190C/175F.
Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a mixer with the steel blade in and blitz around 10 times to mix them together. Add the chopped tarragon and pulse to combine with the other dry ingredients. Add the cubed ice-cold butter to the mixer bowl and pulse it until the mixture resemble coarse cornmeal/couscous, if you still see little chunks of butter here and there that is fine.
Whisk together the coconut cream and the egg.
Transfer the buttered flour mixture into a bowl, make a hole in the middle and pour in the coconut-egg mixture. Gently mix with a work until nicely combined, drop the dough onto a cookie sheet layered with wax-paper forming a round wheel smaller than 26cm/10in in diameters. To guide your hand you can use the bottom part of a 26cm/10in springform instead of a cookie sheet.
Bake in the hot oven for 25 minutes. Place the baked scone on the counter to cool down for 10minutes before cutting it into wedges.

These cross-boundary scones are perfect as a sweet or savory item. Enjoy them lukewarm or at room temperature either with butter and jam of with cheese and ham. By themselves they will shine with their buttery notes and nutty aromas.

Parmesan Coconut Tarragon Scones


  1. Oh A... you know how i loved scones! These look marvelous! Love the coconut cream in there!

  2. I love this savory take on scones.... sounds like a delicious biscuit to eat alongside dinner!

  3. What a wonderful interpretation of my recipe! I am thrilled that you took this to the savory side and can't wait to try your invention. Brilliant!

  4. These look great Al, so glad you participated again this month!

  5. These scones look amazing. Great choice.

    I'm so honored you served my cake at your birthday, and that you liked it that much. It really is a wonderful cake :)

  6. Great idea to use coconut cream as the fat in scones - I've never tried that but it sounds like a wonderful idea! :) Delicious!

  7. What an interesting take on scones. I would have never though to put coconut and parmesan together. Sounds good and they look great!

  8. What a yummy sounding flavor combination for a scone. They look so light and fluffy and definitely delicious.

  9. Coconut- love it, Parmesan- devour it, Tarragon- never had it but would like to try. And you put all these in a scone- delicous!

  10. I always end up taking coconut to the sweet side rather than savory, but these look great. Good job!

  11. A savory scone sounds delicious; especially with some Parmesan in it, too.

  12. What a nice savory scone, but with coconut, which sounds like it would lend a sweet scent. Great choice for the Secret Recipe Club!

  13. Sounds like such a fun club, and these scones sound wonderful!

  14. Your scones look great. Love the combo of sweet and savory.

  15. May I call you an Al-chemist? Seriously Al, love the science behind your food, and the level of experiments! Savoury is right up my street, and I'm glad to have you to sort out the cows milk from the water, the fat from the sugar! I'd love to make these...mmmm! Lovely to be with you at the SRC, thanks to Amanda's creative surge!

  16. Wow - those scones just look awesome - talk about savory!

  17. These sound amazing! I would make delicious little scone sandwiches...yum! So glad you are in SRC :)

  18. Nauty dish to taste on dinner.It looks awesome and delicious to taste.