Scones are one of our go-to morning meeting snacks at the Food52 office. There's always a warm one waiting for every new employee that starts. That being said, we go through an unseemly amount of scones on a weekly basis. This one is an adaptable crowd pleaser with crunchy, toasted nuts on the outside and soft pockets of sweet almond paste, juicy cherries, and slightly bitter molten dark chocolate on the inside. You can easily scale the recipe up or down, depending on how many you need to feed, but I like to have some in the freezer for the occasional surprise visit. —Derek Laughren
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment. Pit and quarter the cherries. Rinse them under cold water until the liquid that runs off is noticeably clearer. Chop the almond paste finely. Chop the chocolate to preferred size, no larger than 1/2". Return the cherries and almond paste to the refrigerator.
Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large steel bowl. Cut in the butter until there are no chunks larger than a small pea. The mix should look coarse.
Whisk together the eggs, cream, and almond extract in a separate bowl.
Gently toss the quartered cherries and the chopped almond paste in the flour mixture until they are individually coated. Stir in the chocolate chunks.
Make a well in the flour mix and pour in the liquid ingredients. Gently fold to incorporate until the mixture has almost come together. Turn out on a floured surface and gently press the mixture into a cohesive mound, folding gently if there are any dry pockets left.
With a pastry scraper, divide the mound into two equal halves. Gently pat each into a circle approximately an inch and a half high. Slice each disc into 8 equal wedges. Transfer to the parchment lined baking sheets.
If baking immediately, brush the top of each scone with heavy cream. Top each with a few sliced almonds and sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes. If they're looking anemic, switch to convection for the last five, but watch them carefully! They probably won't take the full five minutes to get enough color and you don't want to burn the nuts. Serve warm.
If you're saving them for another time, cover tightly with plastic wrap and transfer to the freezer until frozen solid. Then transfer to an airtight plastic bag to save space. When cooking from frozen, reduce baking temp to 400 and increase baking time by 3 to 5 minutes.