Comforting and nostalgic, these Gluten-Free Maple Date Scones will turn even the biggest scone skeptics into believers!
What is it about scones? These little triangular cuties get me EVERY time – they make my heart go pitter-patter ?. There simply aren’t words to describe the depths of my love.
I’ve heard that scones are a love or hate food – something I will never understand being firmly on the L❤️VE side of things, but, to each their own. Some say they don’t like scones because they tend to be dry, bland, and just ICK (to use a very technical term ?) but let me just take a second to tell you that my husband, who happens to fall in the: “ummm yeah, no thanks” category, almost wept when these maple date scones were gone. I kid you not!
As much as I looooove fruity scones – my usual go-to – the fall weather has really gotten to my taste buds this year, as evidenced by Pumpkin Spice Donuts, Butternut Squash Soup, Harvest Cookies, and Pumpkin Spice Granola (If you can’t tell, I just can’t get enough!) And one of the most underrated fall flavors, in my opinion? Rich, molasses flavors like DATES and maple syrup. It’s those very flavors and ingredients that turned my scone-hating husband into a full-fledged believer.
As he put it, these scones are pure nostalgia in food form. He said the when he ate these scones, he was reminded of pancake mornings as a kid (thanks, maple syrup!) and warm, full bellies on cool crisp mornings. One little pastry that can evoke those types of memories? That’s what I call a fall breakfast WIN, my friends.
But it wasn’t just the nostalgia that kept him coming back. With the perfect balance of the classic, somewhat dry, scone crumb and lots of tenderness (thanks to the dates – they provide just the right amount of moisture!) these maple date scones aren’t so dry that you’ll choke on them (a very real hazard of scone eating!) but aren’t moist enough that they should really be called a pseudo-muffin.
They also have the gentlest kiss of sweetness – not too overpowering – but still retain some of that traditional scone taste that almost provides a slightly savory element. They won’t leave you with a sugar rush, but they are sure to satisfy any sweet tooth.
While these maple date scones are seriously on fleek (← I’m hip, I’m with it ?) there’s is onnnnnne little thing I need to address with you about the preparation: dealing with dates.
If you’ve ever worked with dates, you I’m sure you have a bit of a love/hate relationship with them. The qualities that make them oh-so wonderful in these scones – their moisture, sticky-sweetness, and strong but supple texture – make them, umm, how do I say: a complete pain in the toosh to work with. They can act hard as rocks when you go to cut into them, and yet, once you cut them open, they stick to e v e r y t h i n g.
Luckily I have a few date tips to (hopefully) help you keep your sanity while dealing with the dates:
- Warm the dates up in the microwave before you try to cut into them. Not for long though! 15 seconds should do the trick – just enough to make them a little bit pliable.
- Very lightly flour your cutting board and your fingers with gluten-free flour. This will help a bit with the dates sticking to everything problem.
- Set a little bowl off to the side with 1-2 Tablespoons of gluten-free flour in it. Once you’ve chopped one date, drop the pieces in, separating them as much as you can and toss them around in the flour. Do this between EVERY date. Yes, every.single.one. This may seem annoying, but you’ll thank me when your sanity is still intact.
And while we’re discussing preparation tips: I HIGHLY recommend freezing your butter. To get the right consistency for scones, you need very, very cold butter. When the scones are baking, the cold butter creates these heavenly little air pockets as it warms up, which leaves you with the perfect kind-of-crumbly, kind-of-flaky scone texture.
I know lots of people freeze their butter and THEN grate it right into the flour, but I prefer to either cut the butter into tiny cubes or grate it, and THEN freeze it, to make sure it’s as cold as possible when going into the dough.
Also, to incorporate the butter into the flour mixture, you can certainly go the traditional route of cutting the butter in with a pastry butter or two knives, but I prefer the cheater version: throw the dry mixture into the food processor, add the butter and give it just a few quick pulses. Sure, it’s not as high-brow, but I think it makes scone making a little less intimidating AND Ina Garten does it too (and what Ina does, goes).
You have my word: these maple date scones will turn even the biggest of scone skeptics in your life into fanatics. Make a big batch, grab a cup of coffee ☕️, and enjoy a slow morning full of food-induced nostalgia. You won’t regret it.
- 2 ¼ cup gluten-free flour blend flour
- 1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend contains it)
- ¼ cup brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar
- 2 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon cinnamon
- 6 Tablespoons butter
- ⅔ cup chopped pitted dates
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- 1 egg
- 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- ½ cup half and half + 1 Tablespoon, divided
- 1 Tablespoons coarse sugar
- Cut butter into small chunks and place in the freezer for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a baking mat.
- In a food processor, combine gluten-free flour, xanthan gum (if needed), sugars, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Pulse until combined.
- Add frozen butter and quickly pulse 6-8 times or until butter is just incorporated into the flour mixture. Add pecans and dates, but do not pulse again!
- In a large bowl, mix egg, maple syrup, vanilla, and ½ cup half and half.
- Add the dry mixture to the wet mixture and gently stir just until combined.
- Turn the dough out onto your baking sheet and knead just a few times with your hands, and then form into a circle - about ¾ inch thick and 8 inches in diameter. Cut the circle into 8 wedges using a knife.
- Drizzle the remaining Tablespoon of half and half over the top of the scones, and smooth out on the surface with your hand. Sprinkle the coarse sugar over the top of the scones evenly, and then add a few extra pecan pieces to the top for garnish, if desired
- Bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
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