Merry Marzipan

A basket of warm scones full of sweet marzipan nubbins.

Imagine waking up on Christmas morning to warm scones that hide little nubbins of sweet marzipan.

How’s that for a holiday gift to bring a smile bright and early?

“Marzipan Scones” is a recipe from the new book, “Baking Style” (Wiley) by noted baking authority Lisa Yockelson, of which I recently received a review copy. The book is full of  recipes for homespun cookies, breads, muffins and cakes  that just make you want to turn on your oven and spend an afternoon baking your heart out.

These scones are quite unusual. They look like bread and taste like cake.

They’re not crumbly in texture like most scones. They’re also barely sweet — until you bite into a chunk of marzipan. Then, you’ll get a blast of sugary, almond flavor.

The scones have a crumb that looks like bread, but tastes like cake.

I actually used almond paste instead, because that’s what I had on hand. It worked fine, as marzipan is just almond paste with more sugar added. Marzipan is a little more pliable. But if you use a fresh roll or can of almond paste — as opposed to an opened, leftover one that’s hardened because you’ve stored it in the fridge for awhile — it will easily work as a substitute.

The scones get their fluffy texture from creaming softened butter into the dough, rather than cutting in cold chunks of butter like most other recipes call for.

Be sure to allow a few inches of space around each scone on the baking sheet because they will puff up quite a bit in the oven.

The house will smell deliciously of almonds and sugar by the time you pull out the tray.

What a way to welcome Christmas.

Marzipan Scones

(Makes 6 scones)

7 ounces marzipan or almond paste

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons unsifted bleached all-purpose flour

2 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

6 tablespoons (3/4) stick unsalted butter, softened

5 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon almond extract

3/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

Confectioners’ sugar, for sifting over baked scones (optional)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a heavy rimmed sheet pan or cookie sheet with a length of ovenproof parchment paper.

For the dough, cut the block of marzipan or almond paste into small cubes and set aside.

Sift flour, baking powder, salt and nutmeg onto a sheet of waxed paper.

Cream butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and beat for 1 minute on moderate speed. Whisk eggs, milk, almond extract and vanilla extract in a small mixing bowl. On low speed, blend in a little less than half of the sifted mixture, all of the whisked eggs and milk mixture, then the balance of the sifted mixture. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl thoroughly with a rubber spatula after each addition. The dough will be firmly moist. By hand, work in the chunks of marzipan, using a sturdy rubber spatula.

On a lightly floured work surface, form dough into a plump 5 1/2- to 6-inch disk. Cut disk into 6 wedges. Place scones on the prepared baking pan, spacing them 3 inches apart.

Bake scones in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, or until risen, set and golden on top. Cool baked scones on the pan for 1 minute, then remove them to a cooling rack, using a wide offset metal spatula. Serve scones warm or at room temperature, their tops sprinkled with confectioners’ sugar, if you wish. Store in an airtight container.

Notes: This recipe can be doubled easily. Use two rimmed sheet pans or cookie sheets, assembling 6 scones on each baking sheet.

The scones taste best on baking day; or freeze for 1 month, defrost, bundle in aluminum foil, and reheat in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 minutes.

Adapted from “Baking Style” by Lisa Yockelson

Another Lisa Yockelson Recipe: Blueberry Coffee Cake

Another Recipe with Almond Paste: Italian Macarons

More Scones to Bake: Nutella Scones

And: Ginger Scones

And: Apricot Flaky Scones

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