Brown Butter Pear Scones

Light, spicy scones studded with chunks of fresh pear are a lovely way to welcome fall. Brown butter adds a nutty flavor to these luscious pear scones—well worth the few additional minutes of preparation. And if you’ve never used brown butter before, you may have a new addiction; this stuff is good!

Are you the organized type? Brown your butter and let it chill overnight, and the scones will be quick and easy to make for breakfast. If you are more spontaneous (I totally understand a sudden, urgent need for scones) you can make the brown butter, cool it slightly, and pop it in the freezer for 30 minutes. For best results, use unsalted butter (spring for the good stuff; it has less water in it), though I’ve used salted when necessary, cutting the added salt a bit my recipe.

If you want to use regular butter instead of brown butter, use 1 stick (1/2 cup). When making brown butter you use a little more, because by the time the water boils out and you throw away the browned solids in the bottom of the pan, you end up with less. In this case, you should have approximately 1/2 cup.

Before I baked the scones, I sprinkled them generously with sparkling sugar. I love sweets, so felt compelled to add a brown sugar icing after the scones had cooled a little. Just FYI, that’s a lot of sweetness. You will probably want to choose one or the other. (Hint: I vote for the icing!)

Brown Butter Pear Scones
  • ¾ cup (1 and ½ sticks) unsalted butter (if using salted, reduce salt to ¼ teaspoon). This will yield approximately ½ cup of brown butter
  • 2½ cups all purpose flour
  • ⅓ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon powdered ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup chopped fresh, firm pears (peeled and cored)
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 large egg
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • Coarse or sparkling sugar (optional)
  • ICING:
  • ¼ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ½ cup powdered sugar
  1. BROWN BUTTER: Cut butter into chunks and place in small pan (light colored, if possible) on medium low heat. Stirring occasionally, bring butter to a boil. It will be noisy; once it has quieted down and turned into more of a foam, stir often until the butter turns a deep golden color and the solids have turned dark and dropped to the bottom of the pan. Pour into a strainer to remove the sediment and pour the butter into a small bowl, discarding solids. Chill (or freeze) until solid.
  2. Heat oven to 400 F. Cover a baking sheet with parchment and sprinkle generously with flour.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, spices, and salt.
  4. Use a pastry blender to thoroughly cut in the butter.
  5. Toss the chopped pears into the flour mixture until coated.
  6. Mix together the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour liquids into the well. Stir gently just until combined. Don't overmix!
  7. Drop the dough onto the flour-covered parchment, and turn a few times gently to coat. Use your hand to pat into an 8-inch round. Sprinkle with sugar, if desired.
  8. Using a sharp knife, cut into 8 (or 10) sections, pushing the knife straight down and lifting straight up for best results. Use the knife or a pie server to slide carefully under each scone and pull out, separating the scones slightly. Even if they bake back together they will come apart easily.
  9. Bake approximately 18 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove pan and place on cooling rack.
  10. ICING: In a medium saucepan, bring brown sugar, butter, and milk to a boil over medium heat. Boil gently for 1 minute, stirring continuously. Remove from heat and whisk in the powdered sugar until no lumps remain. When scones are no longer hot, drizzle icing over them. A plastic storage bag with the tip cut off works well.

Bring the butter to a boil. It is very noisy at this point!

The bubbles get smaller, more like a rich lather. Stir, stir, stir!

Starting to get brown. Thick and creamy, hard to see the solids in the bottom. Time to take it off the heat.

Strain the butter and place in the fridge or freezer until solid.

With a pastry blender, cut the chilled brown butter into the flour mixture.

Add the chopped pears and toss until coated.

Beat or whisk the buttermilk, egg, and vanilla together. Make a well in the dry ingredients and stir liquids in gently, JUST until combined. Drop dough onto prepared pan, turn to coat with flour, and press into 8-inch round.

Cut into 8 (or 10) wedges, and carefully slide a utensil under each to separate slightly. Bake!

Mmmmm. Once they’ve cooled a bit, you can drizzle them with icing.

If you make eight scones, they’re pretty big. I have NO objection to that, but if you would prefer dainty scones, make two small rounds out of the dough and use a little shorter bake time.










2 thoughts on “Brown Butter Pear Scones

  1. What fun to see how to brown butter! It doesn’t look difficult, although my own past attempts were not as successful as yours. There’s a very fine line between brown and burnt. Still, you provide step-by-step photos. Thanks!

    The scones look pretty tasty, too! Pears! I’ve been on a scone-tasting journey in my kitchen. I’m adding these to the list.

    • It really isn’t hard. You’ll SMELL when the butter is ready. When in doubt, remove the pan. Even if it’s just “golden butter” it’s still very flavorful.
      Do try them! (Don’t omit the icing, Mary. It really adds something to the scones.)

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