Dried Cherry Scones

2 cups flour
3 tbsp. sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. baking powder
1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted
6 tbsp. shortening
1 egg, well beaten
1/3 cup half-and-half
1/2 cup dried cherries
2 tbsp. brandy or apricot nectar

1 tbsp. half-and-half
2 tsp. sugar

Combine 1/2 cup of dried cherries (or other dried fruit) with 2 tbsp. brandy or apricot nectar. Let stand for 15 minutes.

Combine dry ingredients (flour, sugar, salt, baking powder). Cut the shortening into the dry ingredients well. Add pecans. Make a 'hole' in the center of the dried mixture.

Stir together well beaten egg and half-and-half. Add egg and fruit mixtures to dry ingredients all at once. Using a fork, stir just until moistened.

Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 12 to 15 strokes. Form dough into a 7 inch circle, and cut into 8 wedges.

Place scones 1 inch apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush tops with 1 tbsp. half-and-half, sprinkle with 2 tsp. sugar.

Bake in a 400 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes. Cool on a wire rack for 5 minutes. Serve warm with maple-nut butter if desired.

Maple-nut Butter
1/2 cup softened butter 1/2 cup toasted pecans (walnuts and other nuts work well too) 1 tsp. maple syrup In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 cup chopped toasted pecans, 1/2 cup softened butter, and 1 tsp. maple syrup. Chill if not using immediately, soften to room temperature before use.

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