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Top Pick Of The Week

April 8, 2008

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Raisin Scones

With Iveta’s gourmet scone mixes, we baked scones that are more delicious and moist than any we can buy at our local bakeries. Shown above: raisin scones and apricot scones.

WHAT IT IS: Gourmet scone mixes.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Easy-to-bake scones in a non-traditional recipe that replaces butter and eggs with heavy cream. The result: moist, tender scones instead of dry, hard ones.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Scones that are still moist the next day. Seventeen flavor options (16 plus one sugar-free variety). And the ability to multitask as shortcake “biscuits.”
WHERE TO BUY IT: Iveta.com.
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Iveta Gourmet:
Happily Sconed

CAPSULE REPORT: Sometimes we are delightfully surprised when a product we thought would be good, or very good, turns out to be...splendid. We are delighted to have found the all-natural scone mixes from Iveta Gourmet (pronounced ee-VAY-ta). Now, the denizens of Chez Nibble get fresh-baked scones every morning...in not much more time than it takes us to grind and brew the coffee. Just add heavy cream to the mix, and 20 minutes later warm, moist, fragrant scones emerge from the oven. They are among the most delicious that we’ve ever baked (or bought). With 16 flavors (plus one sugar free), every day brings spirited voting as to which flavor should be tried next.

These scones are also multi-taskers: Slice them in half as a base for shortcake, top with berries or other fresh fruits and spoon on whipped cream or crème fraîche. They’re much more flavorful than biscuit-style shortcakes. You can serve them as “shortcake” in the evening and enjoy any leftover scones for breakfast the next morning—or vice versa. Send boxes of Iveta scones as house gifts; or better yet, when you’re invited somewhere for the weekend, bring a box or two and offer to bake fresh scones (or shortcakes) to contribute to the meal. You’ll get applause and a return invitation. We’ve had about half of the flavors to date, and look forward to the rest. Read the full review below to learn about our favorite scone flavors.

     
THE NIBBLE does not sell the foods we review
or receive fees from manufacturers for recommending them.

Our recommendations are based purely on our opinion, after tasting thousands of products each year, that they represent the best in their respective categories.

 

Bake At Home

The Bread Baker's Apprentice Simply Scones The Bread Bible
The Bread Baker’s Apprentice: Mastering the Art of Extraordinary Bread, by Peter Reinhart. A non-intimidating guide to baking professional-quality loaves. Great for novices and experienced bakers alike, if your bread isn’t perfect, you’ll learn why and what to do next time. Click here for more information or to purchase. Simply Scones: Quick and Easy Recipes for More than 70 Delicious Scones and Spreads, by Leslie Weiner and Barbara Albright. Sweet scones (Oat Currant, Triple Chocolate Chunk, Jam-Filled Walnut, Pistachio Fig), savory scones (Cheese, Hearty Grain, Pesto, Tex-Mex) and the spreads to go with them. Click here for more information or to purchase. The Bread Bible, by Rose Levy Beranbaum. For people who like to know it all, the baroness of baking doesn't just offer recipes here; she dissects them, explains how they work, then puts them back together again with a number of variations. Click here for more information or to purchase.

Iveta Gourmet: Happily Sconed

INDEX OF REVIEW

MORE TO DISCOVER

Introduction

Iveta scone mixes were developed by John and Yvette Bilanko as an alternative to the typical dry, rock-hard scones of their native Chicago. Most of us have encountered these scones, which require enlivening by butter, jam and lemon curd. The Bilankos wanted to do better than that. They’ve created a line of truly moist, light and very delicious scones by using the finest ingredients, a veritable global “best” list that includes Australian crystallized ginger, Belgian chocolate, the best dried fruits, Dutch cocoa and pure Tahitian vanilla powder. Dried fruits are used in the mix, but some of them plump up to resemble the real thing. In the raspberry and blueberry scones, for example, most people would think that fresh fruit had been used.

After trademark challenges with “Yvette,” the line was named Iveta, pronounced “ee-VAY-ta,” which is how Yvette’s Italian father pronounced her name. Now located in Santa Cruz, California, the company has been recognized with industry awards, including the $10,000 grand prize at the America’s Best Food Show in 2006, in Anaheim.

Scone mixes are available in 17 flavors, including a sugar-free, that can be baked in a convection oven. Just add 3/4 cup of heavy cream, mix, form a round, cut into triangles and bake. Anyone can do it, and will have fun doing so. The aroma of fresh-baked scones will waft through the house, calling the sleepy to breakfast. A bonus for those who can’t eat all eight scones at once, or who want to serve a variety of flavors: Stored in Ziploc-type bags, the scones were just as moist on Day 2, and on Day 3, had the moistness of a regular scone. Along with the lemon curd and clotted cream (more about those below), you can use the quarter-cup remainder of that half pint of cream for your tea or coffee. Ah, sumptuousness.

Scone Flavors

We didn’t try all 17 flavors, but enjoyed about half of the line. All were good, some more dazzling than others. Here’s what we ate, and what we plan to buy again.

Dazzling Scones

  • Chocolate Chip Scone Mix. One can’t go wrong by adding chocolate chips to most things. Here, the chocolate is top-quality and plentiful, and the warm scone is a delicious riff on pain au chocolat. Two caveats: Chocolate chips in warm scones remain a bit molten, i.e., drippy. The less fastidious will end up with chocolate on their fingers. Second, this is by far the sweetest flavor, and doesn’t really go well with salted dishes like eggs. If you’re looking for scones to serve with breakfast, this flavor pairs better with cereal, fruit and yogurt and pancakes. See photo below.
  • Cinnamon Chip Scone Mix. These scones are awesome: Redolent of cinnamon fragrance and flavor, they’re like a coffee cake in a scone. Whereas we generally share the output of THE NIBBLE kitchen with others in our building, we ate every last one of these!
Raspberry Scones
Raspberry scones, bursting with sweet fruit that tastes like fresh raspberries. All photography by Claire Freierman.
  • Raspberry Scone Mix. Such delicious, sweet raspberries: This scone mix brought summer to our table, and made it seem as if we were eating fruit, as well as a scone. Weeks later, we’re still thinking about them! By far, they’re the most heavenly of all the fruit flavors we tasted.

Delicious Scones

Chocolate Chip Scones

Chocolate chip scones: The chocolate chips may melt in your hand while you’re eating these warm scones, but these scones are definitely comfort food.

  • Blueberry Scone Mix. A perennial best-seller, Iveta does a good job here. Quite a few blueberry scones we try have pallid blueberry flavor. Here, the good dried blueberries in the mix plump up into a semblance of the real thing.
  • Cranberry Scone Mix. We wondered before tasting these how tart the cranberries might be. Fear not, Iveta has thought of everything. The cranberries taste like Craisins, and the scones are charming.
  • Lemon Scone Mix. The most subtle flavor we tried, lemon is the closest to a plain scone, with a lovely lemon fragrance and subtle lemon flavor. We didn’t have the vanilla, which is likely closer yet to a basic scone. Still, we think the lemon adds a little something special.

Nice Scones

  • Apricot Scone Mix. The apricot chunks are very sweet. For us, this almost candied flavor is a bit too sweet for breakfast, given the wealth of other choices in this line. It works better for tea time, when pastry-like sweetness is more de rigeur.

Not-Yet-Tried Scones

Iveta is so prolific, we have a lot to look forward to:

  • Cherry Scone Mix
  • Currant Scone Mix
  • Ginger Scone Mix
  • Maple Scone Mix
  • Golden Raisin Scone Mix
  • Pumpkin Spice Scone Mix
  • Strawberry Scone Mix
  • Apple Spice Scone Mix
  • Sugar-Free Vanilla Scone
    Mix
  • Vanilla  Scone Mix

While any of the flavors is delicious at any time of the year, Cranberry, Ginger and Pumpkin Spice evoke fall and the holidays (and are so reasonably priced, they make great stocking stuffers and small gifts for teachers, caregivers and others you’d like to remember). Spring and summer sing for Blueberry, Strawberry and Raspberry. Cinnamon, Currant, Golden Raisin, Lemon and Vanilla are classic flavors for any season.

Lemon Curd & Clotted Cream

Sure, you can enjoy these scones plain, with butter and/or strawberry or raspberry preserves, the traditional British preserve flavors that accompany scones. But sophisticated palates yearn for a dab of lemon curd and clotted cream, both of which you can purchase from Iveta (or your local specialty food store).

Lemon curd (see raspberry scone photo above) is the most popular fruit curd, a creamy spread made with sugar, eggs and butter, and flavored with lemon juice and zest. The butter creates a smoother and creamier texture than jam, and the high percentage of lemon juice makes the curd less sweet and sugary than typical jams and preserves. Curds can also be found made from blood orange, cranberry, lime, strawberry and other fruits. Learn the difference among jam, jelly, marmalade, preserves, chutney, conserve, curd and fruit butter in our Jam Glossary.

Clotted cream, called clabbered creme and clabber cream (clabber is an archaic word for a cupboard or pantry), is a thick, yellowish, cooked cream product that originated in the counties of Devon and Cornwall in Southwest England—exactly which one is lost to history. It is produced by cooking the cream of cow breeds known for their high-fat milk, like Jerseys.

Traditionally, the cream was skimmed from the top of the milk and gently heated in shallow copper pans for at least an hour, until the cream rose to the surface in “clots” and developed a rich, golden crust. Today’s commercial products are packaged in jars, without the encrusted top layer.

Either way, clotted cream is as thick as soft butter, but has the flavor of cream. While it has a minimum of 55% butterfat, it also is an excellent source of calcium, folic acid, magnesium, phosphorus, riboflavin, vitamins A, B12 and D and zinc. Devon cream, also called double Devon cream, is virtually the same product but with slightly less butterfat (a brand sold in the U.S. has 48%—both clotted cream and Devon cream are imported).

Clotted Cream
Clotted cream. It’s delicious with scones, muffins, berries, cake, pies—just one taste and you’ll look for things to slather it on.

For cream tea or Devon tea, first spread a scone with strawberry or raspberry preserves, then add  a dab of clotted cream. Have it with a cup of hot tea (we would emphasize quality hot tea—see our Tea Section for more information). It’s a simple pleasure; with the convenience of Iveta scone mixes, you can enjoy it often. As with scone mixes, not all strawberry preserves are created equal. Read our review of the best strawberry jams and preserves.

LEARN THE HISTORY OF SCONES
ORIGINALLY COOKED ON A GRIDDLE OVER A FIRE

Serving Suggestions

Scones are more than “breakfast bread.”

Strawberry Shortcake
A lemon scone becomes a strawberry shortcake. Photo by Justine Gecewicz | IST.
  • Brunch. Whipping up fresh scones turns an average brunch into a special one.
  • Tea. We use this generic term to reflect the gracious custom of sitting down with family and friends for an afternoon cup of tea. The British traditionally serve scones with Devon cream and jam or lemon curd. You can do the same (both Devon cream and curd are sold by Iveta, or available at your local specialty food store). You can also serve coffee. And you don’t have to wait for the afternoon.
  • Snacks. The kids’ variation of tea: A fresh-baked scone and milk is much niftier than the same old cookie.
  • Dessert. Split a scone and top with berries and whipped cream, vanilla ice cream or simply whipped cream. Chocolate chip, raspberry and cinnamon work great with ice cream, although several of the other flavors pair well too. Use your judgment depending on what you buy.

— Karen Hochman

FORWARD THIS NIBBLE to people who love scones, brunch and easy-to-make desserts.

IVETA GOURMET SCONES
FLAVORS: Apple Spice, Apricot, Blueberry, Cherry, Chocolate Chip, Cinnamon Chip, Cranberry, Currant, Ginger, Golden Raisin, Lemon, Maple, Pumpkin Spice, Raspberry, Strawberry, Vanilla
SUGAR FREE: Vanilla

  • 8-Ounce Gift Box
    Makes 8 2-Ounce Scones
    $6.25 to $6.50, Depending On Flavor
  • Plastic Bags
    Same Product, No Box
    $5.75 to $6.00
  • Lemon Curd
    4-Ounce Jar, $4.95
    8-Ounce Jar, $7.95
  • Clotted Cream
    1-Ounce Jar, $1.95
    6-Ounce Jar, $7.95

Purchase online* at Iveta.com

*Prices and product availability are verified at publication but are subject to change. THE NIBBLE does not sell products; these items are offered by a third party with whom we have no relationship. This link to purchase is provided as a reader convenience.

Boxes

 



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