These moist, low carb scones studded with fresh chopped cranberries and toasted walnuts, infused with fragrant orange zest, and slathered with cream cheese icing are truly divine. There is no ‘low carb compromising’ happening here!
This low carb scone is inspired by a baked treat that my mother served every year on Christmas morning. I think they’re marvelous any time during the holiday season, however, so I wanted to get this recipe to you before Thanksgiving. It’s lovely for dessert, as well as breakfast or brunch. I also suspect that it would be a much-appreciated gift for any of your low carb friends. These scones can be made ahead and kept refrigerated for up to 5 days, or even frozen (well-wrapped) for up to one month, and that can really help during holiday crunch time.
Finding fresh cranberries can sometimes be hit or miss this time of year, so when I first spy them, I grab a few bags to toss in my freezer just to be safe. I use the cranberries straight from the freezer for this quick and easy recipe made in my food processor. The scones are out of the oven in less than an hour, with only 20 minutes hands-on time.
The dry ingredients are measured into the processor bowl, scattered with chilled pieces of butter and frozen cranberries, then pulsed a few times to chop and blend. Add the wet ingredients, pulse a few more times, and turn out the shaggy dough onto a board. Knead in the walnuts, form the scones, then pop into the oven to bake.
My favorite way to form these scones is into little wedges. I divide the dough into two portions and pat each into a 6″ disc on a sheet of parchment paper. I slice each disc into 6 wedges and transfer the pieces to a parchment-lined sheet pan before baking. If you prefer round-shaped, biscuit-style scones, check out my Almond Flour Scones recipe for a few tips.
While the scones are baking, I prep the simple cream cheese icing so that it’s ready to apply once the scones have cooled. The orange-scented icing is what makes these scones extra special. However, if you wanted to streamline things, you could leave it off. If you do decide to skip the icing, add the extra orange zest to the scone dough. Before the scones go into the oven, you could brush the tops with a bit of heavy cream and sprinkle lightly with a little granulated xylitol. This step will give the tops some sheen and add a bit of crunch.
Living low carb during the holiday season doesn’t have to mean feeling deprived. One of my strategies is to come up with some keto-friendly dishes that have textures and flavors that remind me of my traditional holiday favorites. Even the most disciplined among us will indulge a little during celebrations, and there’s nothing wrong with that. However, I also want to feel my very best so that I can truly enjoy the season. Being as carb-sensitive and insulin-resistant as I am, it doesn’t take many wrong food choices before I start feeling the consequences of the too-familiar blood sugar roller coaster. I’ve found that it’s just not worth it to me.
For Deb and me, the scent and flavor of these low carb Cranberry-Orange-Walnut Scones bring back warm memories of special times in our mom’s kitchen. The intertwining of food and celebration is as old as mankind. It isn’t necessary to choose between the two, but rather to simply make a few tweaks here and there so we can ‘have our cake and eat it, too.’
We’d love to hear about some of the dishes that have made your family holidays special! What are a few of the adjustments you’ve made to recipes, or strategies you have developed for thriving (not just surviving) during the most wonderful time of the year?
- 10 ounces / 2¾ cups almond flour
- 1.5 ounce / ¼ cup coconut flour
- 3.5 ounces / ½ cup xylitol
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- ½ tablespoon xanthan gum (improves texture/optional)
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt (reduce to ⅛ teaspoon if using salted butter)
- finely grated zest of 1 orange (reserve half for icing)
- 4 ounces / ½ cup unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½" pieces
- 5 ounces / 1⅓ cups fresh cranberries, frozen or chilled
- 1 large egg
- 2 ounces / ¼ cup sour cream
- ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- ½ teaspoon liquid stevia
- 4 ounces / 1 cup walnuts, chopped
- 1 ounce / 2 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1.5 ounces / ¼ cup xylitol, powdered in spice grinder or NutriBullet
- 1 pinch fine sea salt
- 1.5 ounces / 3 tablespoons cream cheese, room temperature
- 1.5 ounce / 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
- reserved orange zest
- liquid stevia, if needed, for additional sweetness
- Preheat oven to 325F. Line sheet pan with parchment and set aside. Place chopped walnuts on a small rimmed sheet pan or pie plate. Bake for 5 minutes to toast lightly. Set aside to cool.
- Add dry ingredients to bowl of food processor. Pulse to blend. Add half of orange zest (reserve other half for glaze), butter, and chilled/frozen cranberries to food processor bowl. Process for four 1-second pulses.
- Whisk together egg, sour cream, extracts, and stevia in a small bowl. Add to mixture in processor bowl and pulse a few times until a soft, shaggy dough is formed. Turn out the dough onto a large cutting board dusted with a little almond flour. Sprinkle toasted walnuts over dough and knead just enough to bring the dough together and incorporate the walnuts .If dough is sticky, knead in a small amount of almond flour (repeating as needed) until dough is not sticky, but still soft.
- Divide dough into two pieces and pat each into a 6" disc about 1" thick on large piece of parchment. With a sharp knife, cut each disc into 6 wedges. Carefully separate wedges and transfer to the parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing evenly with room between wedges. Place pan on middle rack and bake until tops are golden brown, about 25 minutes. Transfer to wire rack to cool completely before glazing.
- While scones are baking, prepare the icing. In a small, microwaveable bowl, heat heavy cream on high for 30 seconds. Whisk in powdered xylitol and a pinch of sea salt. Set aside to cool.
- In a small bowl, blend together softened cream cheese and softened butter with a rubber spatula until smooth. Stir cream/xylitol mixture, vanilla, and reserved orange zest. Whisk well to combine. The consistency should be soft enough to spread easily. If it's too thick, add more cream a little at a time as needed. Taste and add a few drops of liquid stevia if more sweetness is desired.
- Spread icing on the tops of cooled scones (about ½ tablespoon of icing per wedge). Transfer iced scones to sheet pan and place uncovered in refrigerator until icing sets completely, about 30 to 60 minutes. Cover and keep refrigerated until ready to serve, up to 5 days. Can be made ahead and frozen (tightly wrapped) for up to one month. Make sure scones are completely chilled before freezing to reduce the formation of ice crystals.
- To serve warm, place scones on a parchment-lined sheet pan in a 300F oven (or toaster oven) for 10-15 minutes (or longer, if frozen) for best results. Alternatively, individual scones can be reheated gently in the microwave (30% power) for 1-2 minutes.
*I use Living Cookbook 2015, along with package information and data from www.nutritiondata.self.com, to calculate the nutritional information for my recipes. Thus, I can make no guarantees as to the accuracy.
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