These sweet, tender baked goods are dotted with chopped chestnuts for a lovely holiday flavor. Sweet Chestnut Scones are great served hot from the oven.
Use what you have. That’s advice my mother shared with me when she visited for Thanksgiving. It came from her friend, who was referring to crystal glassware. The friend, a recent widow, had begun to use hers with frequency. She’d realized that we ought to enjoy what we have when we can, rather than set it aside for some special occasion that may never come.
My mother shared this with me as an encouragement to unbox (and use) the Waterford Crystal champagne glasses I have tucked away in my china cabinet. But it applies to so much more than that.
Use the dishes, the glasses, the silver. Use the craft supplies. Use the fancy napkins and fine tablecloths. Use the ingredients. All of them.
When we don’t use these things, they become just that: things. They aren’t special, as we’d like to believe, because they are kept hidden and unused. They merely take up space.
This recipe — not unlike my recipe for Cranberry Coffee Cake — ensures that ingredients I commonly use at the holidays don’t go to waste. Faced with leftover chestnuts after Thanksgiving, I couldn’t wait to bake with them.
On the morning after Thanksgiving, a warm batch of Sweet Chestnut Scones hit our table. Chestnuts may not have the everyday popularity of walnuts or pecans or the seasonal notoriety of cranberries, but they are a delightful, meaty nut that’s soft and slightly sweet when cooked.
What Are Chestnuts?
“Chestnuts roasting on an open fire; Jack Frost nipping at your nose …” How many times have we sung those song lines without really stopping to think about what those chestnuts are? According to The Story of Food, a wonderful history of foodstuffs published by DK Publishing, chestnuts have been eaten for thousands of years. Originating from Europe, chestnuts have been used for flour, pasta, soups, sweets and more. Some varieties have one kernel inside the husk while others contain two to four.
Years ago, I spotted chestnuts at a market I frequented and bought some. They were an impulse buy — one that I had no idea what to do with. So I experimented. I played. I worked. They became part of our favorite stuffing recipe that I made again and again … until I didn’t. I made that stuffing again this year and it was even more delightful than I remembered.
Today, you can buy chestnuts from barrels in the produce section of grocery stores during the holiday season. They are also available jarred, vacuum-sealed bags and in cans. Some are fresh, others are steamed and some are roasted.
For the purposes of this recipe, any cooked chestnuts will work.
How to Make Sweet Chestnut Scones
Start with the dry ingredients. Sift together the flour, baking powder and sugar.
Cut in the butter using two knives or a pastry blender. I love my pastry blender, and highly recommend investing in one if you enjoy making baked goods that require this step.
In a small bowl, whisk together the eggs and heavy cream.
Fold the egg mixture into the dry ingredients. The dough will be crumbly.
Add the chestnuts and, with clean floured hands, knead them into the dough. A cohesive ball should form. Turn it out onto the cutting board and pat into a circle, about 3/4-inch thick.
Use a knife or a pizza cutter to slice the dough into 8 wedges. I prefer a pizza cutter for this — it’s just so easy!
Transfer the wedges to a baking sheet covered with parchment paper.
Brush the tops with butter, liberally. And then sprinkle with coarse sugar.
And then bake! When the edges are slightly golden brown, these are done.
Serve hot from the oven. Store any leftovers in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
Sweet Chestnut Scones
- 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 3 tbsp sugar
- 1/2 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 cup cold unsalted butter (1/2 stick)
- 2 large eggs
- 1/3 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup chopped chestnuts
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a large bowl. Cut in the butter using two knives.
- In another bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the heavy cream and whisk some more until fully combined.
- Make a well in the center of the dry mix and pour the egg mixture in. Use a rubber spatula to gently stir until just combined. It will be dry and crumbly and won't hold together well. Add the chestnuts and knead together with the dough, continuing to knead until a cohesive ball forms.
- Turn out the dough onto a floured cutting board. Using well-floured hands, pat the dough into an 8-inch circle, about 3/4-inch thick. Use a pizza cutter to slice into eight wedges.
- If desired, brush the tops of the scones with 1 tbsp of heavy cream and sprinkle with coarse sugar.
- Transfer the wedges to the prepared baking sheet and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Serve immediately. These are best eaten within two days. Store leftovers in an airtight container.
Sarah Walker Caron is a cookbook author, freelance writer and founder of Sarah’s Cucina Bella. Her latest cookbook is The Super Easy 5-Ingredient Cookbook, published by Rockridge Press, which focuses on quick, easy, from-scratch cooking for busy people. A single mother to two kids in middle school, Sarah loves nightly family dinners, juicy tomatoes plucked fresh from the vine and lazy days on the beach. She also adores reading and traveling.