Scones. They are ubiquitous behind the glass in coffee shops but, somehow, they seem non-committal. Not quite a biscuit, nor in the cakey sweet muffin category. Scones resemble someone’s dour old aunt next to the flashiness of a blueberry cream cheese swirl Danish. However, this barely-sweet pastry, originally from Scotland, has won my heart. The pleasantly crusty exterior and the tender moist interior pairs beautifully with tea or coffee, while its apparent plainness opens up caverns of creativity.

There are those who will say that if you have to put the word “Paleo” in front of something, it isn’t a food our Paleolithic ancestors would have eaten. Although true, I think these folks just really could use a ginger apricot scone and a cup of tea. Moist, dense and surprisingly pastry-like, Paleo scones offer more protein and nutrition to keep you going than their traditional counterparts. They are perfect for a special occasion, but fast enough for a weekday morning.

A Paleo diet can be packed with nutrition but also filled with the comfort of familiar favorites. Paleo scones offer not only an opportunity for creativity in the kitchen but a return to the coffee house contentment of a steaming mug and crumbly treat. I suggest pairing with a good book.

Paleo Scones
Makes 6

2 cups blanched almond flour
¼ cup arrowroot powder
1 ½ teaspoons grain-free baking powder (or regular, depending upon how sensitive you are)
½ teaspoon sea salt
1 egg
2 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons butter, melted (coconut oil may be substituted)
Add-ins of your choice

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all of the dry ingredients in a medium bowl. Melt the butter in a small pot and let it cool slightly. Once cooled, add one egg, the maple syrup and any other wet ingredients (I put citrus zests in with the dry ingredients). Pour the wet into the dry and stir them together. Fold in any remaining add-ins.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form the dough into a ball. Place the ball on the parchment paper and flatten it into a disk about ¾ to 1 inch thick. With a sharp knife, cut the disk in half and then cut each half into thirds (you will end up with 6 scones). Separate these triangles and place evenly around the baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes until they are just starting to turn golden.

This is a basic recipe – a blank canvas to which you can embellish with endless combinations, limited only by your imagination. Dried and fresh fruit, citrus zest, flavor extracts, nuts and seeds are all options. If you add a fresh fruit and it makes the batter too wet (berries can do this), feel free to add an extra tablespoon or two of arrowroot to make the dough workable. An additional two to four minutes of baking time may be needed as well when using fresh fruits.

Here are some of my favorite combinations:

The zest of 2 lemons, poppy seeds, 1 teaspoon almond extract.
½ cup chopped crystallized ginger, ½ cup chopped dried apricots, 1 teaspoon ground, dried ginger.
1 tablespoon vanilla extract and 1 cup fresh raspberries (fold in very gently).
1 cup fresh rhubarb, very finely diced.
½ cup chopped walnuts, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ½ cup raisins.
The zest of 2 lemons and 1 cup fresh blueberries.
The zest of 2 oranges and fresh or dried cranberries.
Finely diced apple, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, chopped pecans.