Red velvet cake is a striking dessert that always stands out in a pastry case. While the origin of this type of cake involves the reaction between natural cocoa powder and baking soda, most modern recipes simply use red food coloring to bring in a vibrant red color. Food coloring allows us to take the idea of red velvet and bring it into new forms, like cream cheese brownies or these Red Velvet Scones, which bring red velvet to the breakfast table.
The scones are made with a little bit of cocoa powder and a generous amount of red food coloring. Scones don’t have much liquid in them, so you need to thoroughly mix the food coloring into the buttermilk before you stir it into the rest of the ingredients, or you’ll have streaky scones. While I often make scones by hand, I actually recommend making these in a food processor. Since the recipe includes both cocoa powder and red food coloring, it will be a much cleaner job if you don’t end up with scone dough all over your hands. I also recommend rolling or patting the dough out on a sheet of parchment paper, so you don’t need to add extra flour to the outside of the dough and lose any of the color.
The tender scones have a nice hint of chocolate from the cocoa powder and tang from the buttermilk. Unlike red velvet cake, these scones are not all that sweet on their own. I like to generously sprinkle them with coarse sugar before baking to give them some extra sweetness and add some additional texture, but the best way to satisfy your sweet tooth is by serving them with a flavored spread. You can use cream cheese or a flavored cream cheese (such as strawberry). You can also make your own sweetened cream cheese simply by beating some vanilla and confectioners’ sugar into plain, soft cream cheese for a topping that is much more breakfast-friendly than cream cheese frosting, but still keeps that classic red velvet and cream cheese frosting flavor combination together.
Red Velvet Scones
2 cups all purpose flour
1 tbsp cocoa powder (pref. not Dutch process)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/3 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
2/3 cup buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp red food coloring
Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a food processor, sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. If using the food processor, pulse to combine.
Add the cold butter into the flour mixture and rub in with your fingertips (or pulse with the food processor) until mixture is sandy and no pieces of butter larger than a big pea remain.
In a measuring cup, combine buttermilk, vanilla and red food coloring. Pour red buttermilk mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until everything comes together into a sticky dough.
Transfer dough to a sheet of parchment paper or a light floured surface and press into a disc about 1-inch thick. Generously coat the top of the disc with sugar, then cut into 6 large wedges. Transfer scones to prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 15-17 minutes, or until the scones are lightly browned at the edges and spring back when gently pressed.
Cool on a wire rack before serving.