I’ve recently become mildly obsessed with Starbucks’ Petite Vanilla Scones. I never used to drink coffee, but since I started commuting and having to get up much earlier in the morning, I occasionally stop for coffee on my way to work. One day I noticed these little scones and remembered hearing someone rave about them. They looked pretty enticing with their little flecks of vanilla bean in a thick, creamy glaze. The thing that appealed to me most about them, however, is that they’re small. They’re maybe a generous two inches across and a generous inch thick. They’re way less of a commitment (both in calories and stomach space) than a regular Starbucks scone, but they’re just enough for a few little bites of bliss with your morning coffee. They’re also only 50 cents a piece (I hear they can range up to 80 cents each though), so it’s not a major life decision to buy one.
Basically I quickly became enamored of these little wedges of vanilla deliciousness. The problem is that I can’t justify spending almost 5 bucks on coffee just to get a 50 cent scone when I can get coffee elsewhere or at home for much less. Therefore I set out to replicate the recipe at home. I took a standard vanilla scone recipe and adapted it to replicate the flavors of the Starbucks scones…and it was a huge success! Dare I say they turned out even better than the ones at Starbucks? No lie. I absolutely love these—they came out just perfectly. As for nutritionals, these are a great little treat because although they taste decadent, they’re fairly low-calorie. The Starbucks version is only about 140 calories per scone (pretty decent), but my version actually came out at 130 calories apiece. Not bad! Let’s make these. Right now. Seriously.
The major component of these scones is the vanilla beans. I set out to find whole vanilla beans, knowing they’d be expensive (but needing these scones in my life, so that outweighed the need to be frugal). However, when I did find them ($8 for two, seriously?!), I also discovered a bottle that said “vanilla bean paste.” It was also $8 and includes the equivalent of like a million vanilla beans. It’s made from vanilla beans, vanilla extract, and a natural thickener so it’s like this crazy brown goo of deliciousness. It’s going to last me a long time and I’m completely in love with it. You can definitely use whole vanilla beans in this recipe, but if you can find the paste, I’d highly recommend it. You can also use regular old vanilla extract, but let’s face it—the main appeal of these is the beautiful black vanilla flecks. You’re just not going to get that (or the predominant flavor) that vanilla beans will give you.
Except for the vanilla bean paste, everything is super standard. Flour, sugar, butter, baking powder and soda, salt, sour cream, an egg yolk and a lemon. You’ll also need powdered sugar and milk (not pictured) for the glaze.
The first thing you need to do is make your dough. I did this in my food processor (super easy) but you can also do it with a couple forks or a pastry cutter. Combine all of your dry ingredients and cut in your cold cubed butter. It’s important that the butter is really cold and solid. Pulse or cut in your butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a separate bowl, combine your wet ingredients—sour cream, your egg yolk, and your vanilla bean paste (or your vanilla bean caviar, the little black pods inside the vanilla bean) and whisk them together until smooth.
Now add to your dry ingredients. Add about a teaspoon of lemon zest. The lemon is really important to the overall flavor, so even if you’re not a huge lemon fan, don’t leave it out (but you can use a little less). Mix together with a whisk or a fork until the dough forms. It will seem too dry at first, but keep mixing and it should come together. Resist the temptation to add liquid.
On a piece of parchment on a baking sheet, pat out your dough into a rectangle that’s about an inch thick. The dough is going to be really sticky and crumbly, so you can use floured hands to pat it out. Also, scones are never perfect, so don’t worry too much about the shape. Try to get a rectangle that’s about 9 by 12 inches.
Now cut the rectangle into 12 squares, then diagonally so each square is divided into two triangles. Cut, but don’t separate (you can if you want all of your scones to have completely hard edges, but if you don’t separate they will stay more tender). Now place these in a preheated 400 degree oven for 17 minutes or until golden brown.
Take them out and cut over your lines again, then separate the scones and place them on a wire rack to cool while you mix the glaze.
Combine 1 1/2 cups of powdered sugar with a teaspoon of lemon juice (you can use less if you’re not a fan) and a half-teaspoon of vanilla bean paste. Then simply add milk by the tablespoon until it reaches the desired consistency. I used 1% milk and only needed about 4 or 5 tablespoons.
Now it’s time to glaze these babies. Once they’ve cooled for a few minutes, dip each one in the glaze.
Let the excess run off and set them back on the rack to harden a bit. Once you’ve dunked them all and let the glaze set up a bit, do a second round of dunking.
Let the glaze harden (it’ll take a while, so whether you wait to dig in is up to you!), and you’re done!
Go ahead, have one!
Or two. Look at those beautiful specks of vanilla.
Reasons why these are better than Starbucks:
- Cheaper. The vanilla bean paste is a bit of an investment, but in the long run you get so much more for your money (and you can use it for all kinds of baked goods). You’re only using 2 teaspoons of it for this recipe, and it makes 24 scones. Awesome! And you don’t have to leave extra early in the morning to pick one up before work either.
- More flavorful, with better texture. The Starbucks scones, though delicious, are super sweet and the sweetness almost kills some of the more subtle flavors. With these, the scones themselves aren’t overwhelmingly sweet, but they have a gorgeous vanilla and slight lemon flavor. The glaze adds most of the sweetness, but it isn’t as intense as the Starbucks glaze. The texture of these is incredibly moist and fluffy (unheard of for scones), and the Starbucks version is a little bit harder and more crumbly. In either case, the glaze acts as a sealant and keeps in moisture and freshness.
- Lower calorie and lower fat. I didn’t really think about cutting calories or fat, but I ended up doing it anyway. Only cut the calories by a few, but I managed to chop the fat count by over half (11 grams to less than 5). I’m assuming their glaze and/or dough includes copious amounts of heavy cream, which I didn’t use.
- Local. As local as you can get, actually—from your own kitchen. Not from a mega-chain! And all-natural. Good stuff only!
- Homemade. And homemade is always better, isn’t it?
Nibble on these with some home-brewed coffee or tea—sleep in for an extra 20 minutes tomorrow instead of sacrificing your sleep to the coffee giant. Enjoy!
Petite Vanilla Scones
Makes 24 mini scones
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 5 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter, cubed
- 1 cup sour cream (regular)
- 1 egg yolk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
For the glaze:
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or vanilla beans
Approximately 4 to 6 tablespoons milk
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a food processor or mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, baking soda, and sugar) with cubed butter. Pulse or cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
In a separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients: sour cream, yolk, vanilla bean paste, and zest.
Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Mix with a fork or whisk until dough comes together. Place dough on parchment lined baking sheet, them form with floured hands into an approximately 9 by 12 inch rectangle. Cut into 12 squares, then each in half diagonally until you have 24 wedges. Bake for 17 minutes or until golden-brown. Let cool on wire rack.
To make glaze, combine powdered sugar, vanilla bean paste, and lemon juice in a bowl. While whisking, add in milk by the tablespoon until the glaze reaches desired consistency. Dip each scone in the glaze, then let set up. Dip each scone a second time, then let harden completely.
Sodium 122.2 mg