I promised a friend of mine, whose birthday is in the fall, a delayed birthday celebration with baked goods of her choice sometime in the winter "when things get gloomy" and we needed something to cheer us up. Having made it to said gloomy season, she recently requested birthday scones, but declined to specify any further details as to flavors. This recipe, based loosely on Smitten Kitchen's roasted pear and chocolate chunk scones, was what I came up with, and all the "birthday" celebrants seemed to like them. I'd certainly make them again (and next time, maybe I'll remember to take a picture-the black sesame speckles are rather cute *edit: done! not the most attractive picture, but hey). The ginger flavor is present but not very strong-if you want it to come through better you might try adding some ground ginger alongside the infused cream.
*note: the dough freezes well, but if you bake them from straight from frozen, set the oven to 350 or so, so that the bottoms don't burn before the middles are baked.
* another note: I've updated the recipe with a new method for crushing the sesame seeds - makes them look a little grayer than is shown in the picture, but you get a bit more of the flavor this way. —summersavory
6 or 12, depending on how you cut them
bosc pears (bosc, specifically, because they're firm even when ripe)
1 1/2 cups
1 1/2 teaspoons
black sesame seeds, divided
cold unsalted butter
heavy cream (you'll have extra)
fresh ginger root
coarse sugar for sprinkling (optional)
In This Recipe
Peel, core, and chop up the pears into good-sized chunks. Roast them on a parchment-lined pan of some sort for 25-30 minutes at 375F, until they start to brown a bit and feel dry. Transfer them to a dish and cool them in the fridge.
Peel and thinly slice or chop the ginger and put it in a small pot with the cream. Gently heat it to a very low simmer and keep it there, stirring a bit, for 5 minutes or so. Then, put the whole pot in the fridge to cool the cream. If you're short on time you could probably put the pot in an ice bath or something; otherwise, just do the pears and cream in advance and move on to the rest of the steps right before you want to bake. When the cream is cool you can strain out the ginger; pressing it a bit in a sieve will help get all the cream and more of the gingery flavor.
Toast the sesame seeds in a dry pan until they smell a bit like popcorn. Then, toss 2 tablespoons of them (reserving 1/2 tbsp for visual effect) in a blender or food processor with the sugar and pulse until they're in somewhat smaller pieces. You don't want or need to get to the uniform-grey-dust stage; just get them a little bit chopped up.
Mix together the flour, sugar+sesame, baking powder, salt, and reserved whole sesame seeds, and rub in the butter (you could use a pastry blender if you felt like it, but again, I don't have one) until you get the mixture to the ubiquitous bread-crumb stage. Then, add 1/4 c of the cream, the egg, and the pear chunks, and stir. It may seem crumbly and dry, but you don't need more liquid-just keep stirring until it is all dampened (the slight smushing of the pears adds moisture more gradually, you just have to wait for it). If you feel like you've been stirring forever and it's still crumbly, by all means, add more cream, but with the moisture from the pears it's easy to over-do on liquids so it's best to try and hold back a bit.
Pat the dough out gently on a floured surface into a circle about 6 inches in diameter and cut it in 6 wedges (2 smaller rounds and 12 smaller wedges also works fine). If you like, you can lightly brush the tops with some of the extra cream sprinkle the tops with sugar. Set on a parchment-lined baking sheet with about 2 inches between scones (12 scones may take 2 trays) and bake at 375F until done. 6 scones took me about 30 minutes, and 12 scones, 20 minutes; ovens vary a lot, so just watch for gently browning on the bottoms. Serve warm!