Light and sweet, these miniature gluten free vanilla scones are just like the two-bite Starbucks treats. Perfect for your morning coffee.
Why make a Starbucks copycat?
Do you know how sometimes parents will go to Starbucks and get themselves a coffee and order their child a cake pop, a cookie or a scone? Well, I might have been inclined to do something like that when my son was little, but there are no gluten free cake pops at Starbucks. And no two-bite, light and no sweet petite gluten free vanilla scones.
My son is 15 now, and he won’t set foot in a Starbucks (or nearly anywhere) with me these days. But if he were little and I had this option, I’d be sure to stock my freezer with these little scones and pop a few in my bag when we set out to drop his big sister at preschool.
The Starbucks petite vanilla scones are perfectly sweet (they’re meant to be a treat, so don’t get all upset about the sugar!), tender and light, and the vanilla flavor in the pastry and the icing is the real deal.
Since these pastries are petite, we get a full 16 scones from the recipe. I think these would be perfect for a lunch, brunch, baby shower, and perfect for Easter.
How to make light and flaky scones
Scones are very similar to biscuits (since I’m in the U.S., biscuits are pastries, not cookies!), but they tend to be a bit firmer and aren’t quite as flaky as biscuits. They’re still a pastry, but they’re a bit drier than biscuits.
But the technique for making these scones light and flaky is the same as for our extra flaky gluten free biscuits—and for any pastry, really. Large chunks of chilled butter get tossed with the dry ingredients. If you aim for pieces of butter that resemble “small peas,” as many pastry recipes recommend, you’ll make flat pastry.
These scones aren’t exactly like my typical gluten free scone recipe, as there’s an egg in the dough. The Starbucks petite vanilla bean scones have eggs, as listed in their ingredient list. My copycat recipes always begin with the original product’s ingredient list. Sometimes, what’s in there surprises me.
You only bake them for 10 minutes, which is just enough time for these sweet little scones to become puffed and pale golden. They should be cold before they go in the oven. It really helps them to puff. And don’t skip the folding and the puff-pastry-like turns in the recipe instructions. They make all the difference. Well, the real vanilla bean seeds don’t hurt either.
Can you make the scones ahead?
Yes, you absolutely can make these scones ahead of time. All forms of pastry tend to store really well in the freezer, both shaped and raw and after they’ve been baked.
To freeze raw
Like biscuits, these scones can be frozen once they’ve been shaped. Just freeze them, once cut, in a single layer on a baking sheet and then pile them into a freezer-safe bag before returning them to the freezer.
They can be baked as directed in the recipe instructions as frozen, without defrosting them first. You will need to add a minute or two to the baking time. If you place them on a baking sheet as you’re preheating your oven, though, extra baking time likely won’t even be necessary.
To freeze once they’re baked
The icing on these scones is made very thick so it’s dry to the touch once it’s set. That means that you can even make the recipe all the way to end, including the icing, before freezing them.
Just place the baked, cooled and iced scones in an even layer on a baking sheet and place the sheet in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, just pile the scones into a freezer-safe bag, squeeze out the air as best you can and return them to the freezer.
I recommend defrosting them at room temperature. That can be on a plate on the counter, or in a portable container in your bag.
Ingredients and substitutions
Dairy-free: In place of the chopped and chilled butter in this recipe, try using Spectrum nonhydrogenated vegetable shortening (butter-flavored, if possible). Shortening will become absolutely solid, though, if it’s chilled too much (and certainly if it’s placed in the freezer for any length of time), so you can’t work with the dough in exactly the same way.
I recommend measuring out the shortening by weight and then placing it in the refrigerator until it begins to firm up. Then, add it to the dry ingredients as you would the butter by adding it in small scoops. It will flatten easily as you mix in the wet ingredients.
In place of the heavy cream, you can use canned coconut milk. The nonfat dry milk can be replaced with powdered coconut milk, which is more and more readily available all the time.
Egg-free: Since there is only one egg in this recipe, you can try replacing it with a “chia egg” (1 tablespoon ground white chia seeds + 1 tablespoon lukewarm water, mixed and allowed to gel). A “flax egg” will add color and an unpleasant flavor, so I recommend staying away from that.
Corn-free: In place of cornstarch, try using arrowroot. It’s usually a great substitute for cornstarch in baking.
Lyle’s golden syrup: This is a British invert sugar that adds liquid sweetness without the added flavor of honey. I like it best in this recipe. However, if you can’t find it in the imports section of your grocery store, you can replace it with light corn syrup or even honey if you don’t mind the added flavor.
Starbucks-Style Gluten Free Vanilla Scones
For the scones
1 1/2 cups + 2 tablespoons (227 g) all-purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter), plus more for sprinkling
1 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)
5 tablespoons (30 g) nonfat dry milk
3 tablespoons (27 g) cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 cup (50 g) granulated sugar
5 tablespoons (70 g) unsalted butter, chopped into chunks (about 3/8-inch square) and chilled
1 egg (50 g, weighed out of shell), beaten and chilled
Seeds from half of a vanilla bean
2 tablespoons (42 g) Lyle’s Golden Syrup
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2/3 cup (5 1/3 fluid ounces) heavy whipping cream, chilled
VANILLA BEAN GLAZE
Seeds from (other) half of a vanilla bean
1 1/2 cups (173 g) confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons milk (any kind), plus more by the 1/4 teaspoonful, if necessary
Preheat your oven to 375°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper and set it aside.
First, make the scones. In a large bowl, place the flour, xanthan gum, nonfat dry milk, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt and granulated sugar, and whisk to combine well. Add the chopped and chilled butter, and toss to coat it in the dry ingredients. Flatten each chunk of butter between your thumb and forefinger. Whisk the egg, seeds from half a vanilla bean, Lyle’s Golden Syrup (or honey) and vanilla extract into the milk or cream. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the milk or cream mixture. Mix gently until the dough begins to come together. The dough will be somewhat sticky, unlike most other pastry dough.
Turn out the dough onto a lightly floured piece of unbleached parchment paper and press into a disk. Srpinkle the top lightly with additional flour and roll out into a rectangle that is about 1-inch thick. Fold the dough over on itself like you would a business letter and then press into a square. Sprinkle the dough again lightly with flour, and roll out the dough once again into a rectangle about 1-inch thick. Repeat rolling and folding if you are willing (it really does make for flakier, smoother pastry). Finally, sprinkle the dough lightly with additional flour and roll it into a 7-inch square that is about 3/4-inch thick. The dough should have a smooth, even surface. Using a sharp knife or bench scraper, cut the dough into 4 equal squares. Cut each square into 4 equal triangles by cutting an “X” through the center of the square. Place the wedges about 2 inches apart from one another on the prepared baking sheet, and chill in the freezer until firm (about 10 minutes).
Remove the baking sheet from the freezer and place in the center of the preheated oven. Bake until the scones are puffed and very pale golden (about 10 minutes). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes on the baking sheet before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the scones are cooling, make the glaze. In a small bowl, mix the seeds from the (other) half of a vanilla bean into the confectioners’ sugar until the seeds are evenly distributed throughout the sugar. Add 2 tablespoon of milk, and mix well, until a very thick paste forms. Add more milk by the 1/4-teaspoon, mixing to combine well, until the glaze falls off the spoon slowly, in a very thick but pourable glaze. Add milk very slowly, as it is much easier to thin, than to thicken, the glaze. If you do thin the glaze too much, add more confectioners’ sugar a teaspoon at a time to thicken it. Either dip the tops of the cooled scones into the glaze, or spoon it on top of the scones and spread into an even layer. Allow the glaze to set at room temperature before serving.
Originally posted on the blog in 2014. Most photos, video, text new; recipe unchanged.