Megan Romano is used to serving sweet endings. As the former pastry chef for Charlie Palmer’s Aureole at Mandalay Bay, she earned accolades for her seasonal desserts and meticulously crafted petit fours.
Now, with the recent opening of her first bakery, she wants you to start the day with her creations, too. Chocolate & Spice (7293 W. Sahara Ave., Suite 8) offers all of the indulgent treats that put Romano on the culinary map (cakes, truffles, ice cream), and includes a rotating menu of breakfast items. One of our favorite anytime treats is her scone, a not-too-sweet pick-me-up that works with your morning coffee or as an afternoon snack.
It’s easy to re-create at home—all you need are a few pointers from Romano.
“The best scones have layers from cold pieces of butter in the mixture,” she says. “You want something lightweight, not doughy, with a great, golden-brown crust and moist interior.”
Romano warns of two common but easily avoidable mistakes: “Don’t start the oven too low or the butter will melt and make the dough dense. One trick is to let the oven run at 350 degrees for five minutes before lowering it to 325 degrees.”
The second pitfall is overworking the mixture, which develops the flour’s gluten, and leads to a leaden puck of dough. “Mix the ingredients only until the dough just comes together, and then knead it a bit by hand.”
Scones can be tailored to lean toward the sweet or savory side, but for this recipe, Romano honors the season by adding fresh summer cherries.
And of course a baked good from Romano would be nothing without her signature additions of chocolate and citrus zest—in this case, lemon.
“Use a good quality baker’s chocolate,” she instructs. “It keeps its integrity when baking rather than melting into the dough. And once you add the citrus, it awakens the chocolate to a more lively combination.”
Makes 1 dozen
2 cups all-purpose flour
½ cup sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
¼ tablespoon salt
¼ pound butter, cold
Zest of half a lemon
2 cups fresh cherries, pitted and sliced
1/3 cup chocolate chunks
¾-1 cup buttermilk, cold
2 tablespoons heavy cream
¼ cup sugar
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Sift all dry ingredients together. Using a box cheese grater, grate cold butter into dry mixture and freeze for 1 hour. Place mixture in a Kitchen Aid bowl with the paddle attachment. Mix ingredients until butter is pea-size. Add lemon zest, cherries, chocolate and then cold buttermilk in a steady stream. Add only enough buttermilk until the mixture begins to moisten, pulls away from the sides of the mixing bowl and starts to form a mass. Turn mixture onto a floured surface to knead just until the entire mixture is loosely packed together. Place onto a parchment-lined sheet tray. Sprinkle with a bit of all-purpose flour and roll the dough into a square shape approximately 1 inch in height. Freeze dough for 20 minutes. Remove dough from freezer, cut into desired shapes (triangle, circle). Whisk together egg and heavy cream and brush the top of the scones. Sprinkle with sugar. Bake for 15-20 minutes, rotating in the oven after 10 minutes. Bake until golden brown.
Cherry Sorbet with Yogurt-Lime Float
Vanilla-Infused Simple syrup
3 cups water
3 cups sugar
1/4 of a vanilla bean
Place sugar, water in a saucepot. Slice vanilla bean length-wise and scrape inside and place all in the saucepot. Simmer until 1/3 liquid is evaporated and light tan in color. Strain and cool.
Candied Lime Zest
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel
Zest lime using a microplane. Sprinkle sugar and salt over the lime zest and rub together with your hands to create a candied lime mixture. Place on a plate. Wet the rim of a glass with vanilla-infused simple syrup and invert onto lime zest to coat the rim of the glass. Set aside.
4 cups cherry puree
2 cups vanilla-infused simple syrup
2 tablespoons lime juice
1/2 cup water
Mix all ingredients together, strain and churn in an ice cream machine. Cover with plastic film and freeze untilready to serve.
Yogurt Lime Float
4 cups plain yogurt
1 cup vanilla-infused simple syrup
2 tablespoons lime juice
3 cups seltzer
8 fresh cherries
Whisk yogurt, simple syrup and lime juice together. Strain thru a fine strainer. Using a hand blender, mix in seltzer water to cream frothy liquid. Pour float mixture into prepared glass. Top with cherry sorbet and fresh cherries.