Cherry Vanilla Scones Make a Great Breakfast (or anytime) Treat

Cherry Vanilla Scones

Tony and Gio are big fans of American coffee house scones, and a recent purchase of some lovely dried Bing cherries from Trader Joe’s has inspired me to play around with my recipe to make these gorgeous Cherry Vanilla Scones.

American scones are usually sweeter than their British counterpart and are often enjoyed as a morning pastry, while British scones are typically served at tea time. And, while the Brits enjoy slathering their tea scones with heaps of butter and cream, over here we put those ingredients right inside our scones.

American scones are essentially a type of quick bread, like their other cousin, the southern biscuit, but they benefit from the addition of sugar and often an extra ingredient, or two, like dried fruits or chocolate chips. For practical purposes, (and in no disrespect to any British readers), I will refer to them from this point on simply as scones.

I confess that, until recently, I never quite understood the big attraction to scones, but, since I love baking and my guys love scones, I set out a couple years ago to find the perfect scone recipe. After trying out several versions, I’ve learned a few things along the way and have come to regard the scone with new respect.

First, (and best, in my opinion), scones are really easy to make, requiring basic pantry staples and very little skill. In fact, they are just another incarnation of flour, butter, sugar and cream, with a little bit of salt and baking powder thrown in for good measure. If you’ve ever found scones difficult to make, I urge you to try this recipe.

Next, scones are incredibly versatile. You can make them plain, or enhance them with a variety of add-ins like dried fruits, fresh fruits, chocolate chips, and nuts. Currants, raisins and cranberries are common add-ins, but we’ve also used dried strawberries and today’s special feature, dried cherries. I also like to throw in half a teaspoon of lemon or orange zest, just enough to brighten up the flavor without taking over.

Fresh berries can also be heavenly in a warm scone, and Gio loves to pick raspberries straight from our garden when they are in season. The extra moisture from fresh berries may alter the texture of the scone just a bit, so be careful when adding them to the dough and gently fold them in. Don’t worry, they may look slightly different but they will still taste amazing. You could even reduce the amount of sugar to just one tablespoon and make a savory scone, with add-ins like aged cheddar cheese and chives.

There are a few key factors to know when making scones, and I cannot stress enough the importance of using cold butter, which creates wonderful steam pockets while baking. This enhances the overall texture of these scones, which are crispy-crumbly on the outside, and melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside.

To ensure this result, I cut the butter into ¼-inch cubes and place it in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before using, and once the scones are ready to bake I’ll place them in the freezer for 20 to 30 minutes before putting them in the oven.

Cut scones into wedges

Another tip for success is to handle the scones as little as possible, which is why I prefer to cut them into wedges versus other shapes. I’ve found that shaping the dough in a round cake pan first allows me to get consistent portions with minimal handling, but you can shape it by hand, too.

Tony likes his scones plain, while Gio prefers his with a simple glaze over the top. I love that I can fill my freezer with them, baked or unbaked, and have a favorite treat on hand for breakfast or an after-school and work snack.

CLICK HERE for the Cherry Vanilla Scones RECIPE

Drizzle with glaze

Irish Cream Cheesecake with Homemade Irish Cream

Irish Cream Cheesecake collage no green

This morning on North Dakota Today Tony shared one of our favorite St. Patty’s Day recipes: Irish Cream Cheesecake. To watch Tony’s demonstration, just click HERE.

We featured this recipe last year in our weekly column in The Forum newspaper, along with our recipe for Homemade Irish Cream liqueur. Both are great on their own, but when they’re combined they’re even better. The Irish cream liqueur is simple to make and tastes so good you’ll never buy it from the store again. Enjoy!

Irish Cream Cheesecake Recipe
Homemade Irish Cream Liqueur Recipe

Irish Cream Liqueur


Today’s Super Bowl Recipe: Clipper Chipper Cookies

Today’s featured Super Bowl recipes comes from our days working aboard the ships of the (now-defunct) Clipper Cruise Line, when Clipper Chippers, a.k.a., the World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, were served everyday at 4:30 PM, straight from the oven.

Passengers and crew alike delighted in this tradition, and these cookies have now become a favorite in our family, too. Filled with 3 different kinds of nuts, 2 liqueurs and 2 bags of milk chocolate chips, these cookies will send your football fans into overtime begging for more!

The recipe was developed by Clipper’s Corporate Executive Chef, Robert Colosimo, especially for Clipper Cruise Line, and is featured in his cookbook, “Cooking Adventures from the Clipper Galley.”

We are grateful to have a copy of Chef Colosimo’s cookbook, which is filled with so many of our favorite recipes from our time with Clipper. Enjoy the Clipper Chippers!

For more great recipes, check out our Party Dips Page, featuring over 50 recipes from our 2013 Perfect Party Dip Contest.

We’ll be featuring our favorite Super Bowl recipes all week long, and we hope you’ll check back each day to find a new favorite (or two) to make this Sunday!

Clipper Chippers
The Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies from Clipper Cruise Line,
as featured in the cookbook “Cooking Adventures from the Clipper Galley”

Makes 3-4 dozen medium cookies or 5 dozen small cookies

1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup sugar
¾ cup light brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 tablespoon Frangelico liqueur
1 tablespoon Tia Maria liqueur (Kahlua may be substituted)
2 eggs
2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
4 cups milk chocolate chips
1 cup walnut halves (optional)
½ cup pecan halves (optional)
½ cup macadamia nuts (optional)

With an electric mixer, cream the butter, sugar, vanilla, Frangelico and Tia Maria until light and fluffy. Add the eggs and beat well.

Combine the flour, baking soda and salt (in a separate bowl). Gradually stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture using a large kitchen spoon. Carefully fold in the chocolate chips and nuts. Mix well with a large kitchen spoon. Place in storage container and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Scoop one teaspoon of cookie dough for each cookie onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake at 325 degrees for approximately 10-15 minutes until golden brown. Cool slightly and serve while still warm.

Helpful Hint: The dough may be refrigerated up to several days in advance. It also freezes well for future use.

Cookie Tips:

  • Use an ice cream scoop to form the cookies.
  • You can omit the nuts if desired, but don’t skimp on the liqueurs – this combination is essential to create an authentic Clipper Chipper.
  • Kahlua or any coffee-flavored liqueur may be substituted for the Tia Maria.
  • To freeze the dough, wrap it tightly in two layers of plastic or scoop into cookie size and freeze on a tray for one hour. Transfer to a plastic freezer bag or airtight container and freeze for up to 2 months. Allow to come to room temperature before baking.
  • Baked cookies may also be frozen for 3 to 4 weeks. Thaw at room temperature before serving.

Cooking Mistakes To Avoid

Have you ever had a tried and true recipe that just refused to cooperate one day? (Hint: That’s your cue to leave an answer in the Comments section at the bottom of this page. :)

I find these experiences so frustrating, because there are often several factors that could contribute to the challenge, and sleuthing them out isn’t always so easy.

I had a little mishap with falling berries in cake batter today while working on the photo shoot for our next column in The Forum. I was making a recipe for little almond cakes called Friands, which I’ve made dozens of times with success. They’re very pretty little cakes, and I love to showcase them with berries floating on the top.

However, this was the first time my berries decided to take a dive for the bottom, leaving me with a plain cake top. Normally, I wouldn’t be so bothered about this, because the cakes still tasted great. But I needed the berries to be visible for the photos, so I had no patience for their refusal to make an appearance. These Friands were not my friends today. See what I did there? :)

When the photo shoot ended, I started to search Google to see if coating the berries in flour first would have helped – I’ve done this before with chocolate chips and had good results.I stumbled across a terrific article from called “The Most Common Cooking Mistakes,” which has 61(!) great tips for success in your kitchen adventures. Some of these I knew already from past experiences (i.e., failures), but many of the tips were new to me.

The article did confirm my suspicion that a little bit of flour might have helped prevent today’s earlier stress – but how was I to know beforehand that my berries would decided to play hide and seek?

I’m still not sure why they fell in the first place – I may have mixed the egg whites a little too long, thus resulting in a less-dense batter. The size of the berries could also have been a factor, as they were really big raspberries. But then again, my blueberries fell straight through, too. Hmm…it’s a little food mystery. I think I’ll have to do some experimenting this weekend. I’ll keep you posted.

If you’re anything like me, you’ll appreciate these reminders, tips and shortcuts to help you avoid those darn kitchen pitfalls. Just click on the link below and take comfort in knowing that you’re not alone in your kitchen exploits.

“The Most Common Cooking Mistakes” from COOKING LIGHT MAGAZINE