Now that the breeze is picking up outside and the leaves are beginning to fall from the trees, all I want to do in the morning is set something to bake, curl up on my couch with a feel-good autumn movie like Practical Magic, and let the scrumptious aromas waft over me. And then I get to scarf the treats warm from the oven of course. But also you know what? Can I just say that as I finish up this post, I’m watching the presidential debate?
I don’t think I have to elaborate any further. Nothing makes me want to crawl under the covers more.
Needless to say, we’ve never needed warm soft breakfast sweets than ever before. Seriously they work for celebration and for eating your feelings alike. Just kidding. But not really…
This recipe is one of my most favorite baked good recipes for fall. It’s a scone recipe, perfect for those lazy mornings, but I replace some of the butter with mascarpone cheese to make it a bit softer inside. The crumb is almost like a cross between a muffin and a scone. Which is sooooo perfect for me because I often think that scones are way too dry for my taste. And it’s just a bit more decadent. Additionally, this recipe utilizes pears, the so-long song to summer’s bountiful produce, and roasts them which always signals cooler weather to me. And we throw some chocolate chips in there because, why not? Plus they’re mini and so cute which means you can eat 5 of them and they don’t count. Delish!
I always considered mascarpone to be this magical ingredient used only in the most revered Italian dishes—and it should only be pronounced by the likes of someone as Capital-I-Italian as Giada. But guess what? It’s basically like this high-fat spoon-able cheese like a ricotta cheese if it were a million times wealthier.
And remember when we made ricotta cheese from scratch? Acid + Heat to the rescue in a one-two punch in order to change milk into a network of proteins that we experience as the final cheese texture. (PS check out this chart from my pal Pat for a refresher) Well mascarpone cheese is made exactly the same way! Except it has a crazy-high percentage of fat by the addition of cream and some whipping action. (Actually if you’ll remember we made some unconventional ricotta by adding in some heavy cream because why not) In fact, there is so much fat in mascarpone that it has close to the same percentage as butter. But not quite.
Anyway, that high fat content is beneficial for us because we can replace some of the butter in the recipe that is so important for the structure of our scones. But the extra proteins and milk solids create some elasticity and help keep the crumb soft on our scone. Without losing too much in the way of form. Perfect!
So turn on that oven and get the fuzzy socks on. Hey—I think it’s even time to put on a Halloween movie. We’ve got some baking and cozy-ing to do.
Mini Roasted Pear and Chocolate Chip Mascarpone Scones
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 16 mini scones
3 firm (not overripe) pears (I used Bartlett because they’re firm but sweet)
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup granulated sugar, plus more for sprinkling on top
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for egg wash
¼ cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
2 ½ tablespoons mascarpone cheese
¼ cup heavy cream
¼ cup semisweet chocolate chips
2 eggs, separated
- Preheat oven to 375⁰F. Peel and core the pears. Cut them into 1 inch chunks.
- On a parchment-lined baking sheet, evenly space the pear chunks as much as possible. Roast them in heated oven for about 20 minutes—the pears will be dry-ish to the touch and slightly browned.
- While the pear chunks are roasting, prepare the butter and mascarpone. Cut the butter into small cubes and place on a plate. Add the mascarpone to the plate by teaspoon. Place in the freezer for at least 15 minutes, no longer than 45 minutes.
- Once done, remove the pears from the oven and slide the parchment with the pear chunks on it onto a cooling rack. Let cool to lukewarm or room temperature. Leave the oven on.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, whisk together the flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, and ½ teaspoon of salt. Whisk together one egg and heavy cream in a glass measuring cup. Add the cooled pear chunks, chilled butter and mascarpone, and heavy cream/egg mixture to the stand mixer bowl. With the paddle attachment, mix the dough on low speed until the dough just comes together. Add in the chocolate chips and mix for another 5-10 seconds.
- Prep your counter with a coating of flour. This will make handling the dough a bajillion times easier, because it will be sticky. Dump the dough out onto the counter in two equal mounds. Shape, with well-floured hands, the mounds of dough into two rounds. Cut each round into 8 pieces.
- Transfer the scones to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Whisk together the remaining egg with 1 teaspoon water and a pinch of salt. Brush each scone with the egg wash. Top each scone with extra sugar, or coarse sugar if you have it.
- Bake the scones until golden, about 20-25 minutes. When finished, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Serve! You can also prep in advance and freeze the scones after cutting the wedges. Simply brush with the egg wash and sprinkle with sugar prior to baking right from the freezer. Don’t thaw. Add another 3 minutes to the baking time.