Light and flaky Paleo scones? Yes! It can be done. And we're going to do it together. January, the official month of New Year's Resolutions, when the gyms are packed and intentions are good, is the perfect time to talk about Paleo recipes. And I'll tell you why (p.s. It's not what you think).
There's plenty of room for debate about whether eating Paleo is better for you, or healthier overall. Carbs are good, carbs are bad, eat like a caveman, eat like a bird (hey, aren't birds essentially dinosaurs anyway?)—I try not to get too involved, to be honest.
Simply put, I see Paleo recipes as useful for a few reasons: First and foremost, baked goods made with nut flours like almond flour are naturally higher fat and lower carb, and for that reason they're just more satisfying. So they don't create those ugly just-one-more-please carb-style cravings. Second, if you do them right they honestly simply taste really, really good. I try not to focus too much on making them taste exactly like their more conventional counterparts, like I do with straight-up gluten free recipes (which absolutely must taste spot-on like you're used to or what's the point). I want the texture to be right (which means sometimes I have to use some Paleo-legal starches), but the taste of almonds in almond flour and coconuts in coconut oil and milk is just different than a rice flour blend, which can mimic conventional flour quite readily. And that's okay by me! They taste great.
Finally, since all Paleo recipes are, by their very nature, gluten free and dairy free, it creates a whole new category of recipes for me to create that can reach even more people than just my regular gluten free baking recipes. And reaching more people, helping them to eat well within their dietary needs, is just plain good. Don't you agree??
This recipe for Paleo scones is one I'm especially proud of, too, since it really turns out uncommonly light and flaky pastries. I used miniature chocolate chips, but you could easily sub in any small pieces of dried fruit or even fresh blueberries. If you use fresh blueberries, though, use a full cup (about 120 grams), toss them with some extra starch, and add them at the very end so they don't get crushed!
Chocolate Chip Paleo Scones
1 1/2 cups (168 g) blanched almond flour*
1 cup (120 g) tapioca starch/flour**, plus more for sprinkling
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 3/4 teaspoons Paleo baking powder (1/2 teaspoon baking soda + 1 teaspoon cream of tartar + 1/4 teaspoon starch (arrowroot or tapioca work well))
1/4 cup (40 g) coconut palm sugar
2 ounces miniature dark chocolate chips (I use Enjoy Life brand)
5 tablespoons (60 g) nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening (I use Spectrum Naturals brand)
1/3 cup (2 2/3 fluid ounces) unsweetened almond or coconut milk
Egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water)
*I recommend using Honeyville brand or Nuts.com brand for a finely ground, blanched almond flour (not almond meal).
**I only recommend buying tapioca starch/flour from Nuts.com or Authentic Foods. Bob’s Red Mill tapioca starch is of inconsistent quality. Do not buy tapioca starch/flour from the Asian food store as it is frequently contaminated.
Preheat your oven to 325°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
In a large bowl, place the almond flour, tapioca starch/flour, salt, baking powder and palm sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the chocolate chips, and stir to combine. Add the vegetable shortening, toss it in the dry ingredients to coat. With your fingers, as best you can, break up the shortening into chunks about the size of large peas. Create a well in the center of the mixture, add the milk and mix to combine. The dough should come together and be thick but soft.
Turn out the dough onto a flat surface sprinkled lightly with tapioca starch/flour and press into a disk about 1-inch thick. Using a tapioca starch/flour-floured 3-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out rounds of dough and place them, about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps and cut out more rounds, sprinkling with flour as necessary to prevent sticking. Toss the rounds of dough in more tapioca starch/flour to create a light coating of flour on all sides of each. This will help the scones keep their shape during baking. Place in the freezer for about 10 minutes or until the shortening is firm. Brush the top and sides of each round sparingly with the egg wash.
Place the baking sheet in the center of the preheated oven and bake until the scones are lightly golden brown all over, about 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before serving.