As test kitchen bakers here at King Arthur Flour, we occasionally labor over recipes WAY too long. Despite the three-strike rule (three failed attempts, move on), Sue and Susan and MaryJane and Andrea and I all plead guilty to expending extra effort on a problem child.
"Just one more try. I KNOW 2 tablespoons of honey is going to make the difference." And then it doesn't. And you surreptitiously hide the evidence, and wonder if you can sneak in a "REALLY, I promise this is the last time I'll do it" attempt, maybe early in the morning...
And then there are the (way too infrequent) grand-slam homeruns. The recipes that go from inspiration to fruition in a couple of hours' worth of successful experimentation. These are our straight-A students; we preen and bask in their sweet glow.
Scone Nibbles fall into this happy category.
On a recent trip to the "big city" supermarket (as opposed to our local coop store), I strolled through the in-store bakery to check out their offerings. As a recipe developer, it's always good to see what's out there at the grocery store; I figure they do the customer research, and they know what people like (read: will buy). So I often wander around the fresh-baked area, pencil and pad in hand, taking notes.
I moved from the artisan breads (the usual: ciabatta, sourdough) through the cookies (snickerdoodles, hermit bars), then into the pastries. Raspberry nut rugelach shared shelf space with blueberry pie and apple fritters. And... wait a sec, what are these? Tiny two-bite triangles, dipped in a sugary glaze. Are those flecks of vanilla-bean seed I see?
Indeed. Labeled "petite vanilla scones," they were a rather plebeian name for a great concept, carried out to perfection.
Well, perhaps not utter perfection; they looked a bit bland to me. "I can do better than that," I thought, as any enthused baker would.
So I came back to work Monday, and set to work on mini scones. Partway through the project my boss, Karen stopped by.
“What are you making?” she asked. Karen's a foodie, especially where chocolate is concerned. Whenever she walks through the kitchen, she keeps her eyes peeled for chocolate.
“Well, I saw these tiny little scones, dipped in vanilla glaze...” I began.
“I saw those too! At Starbucks. They were so cute!” I don't know if I've ever seen Karen so excited about a non-chocolate treat. Her enthusiasm validated my desire to recreate these little gems.
A little side trip... The week after I made these scones, I was in Boston at a conference. I stopped by a Starbucks in the hotel, and there they were: vanilla mini scones, 75¢.
Can you see the flecks of vanilla bean? They really were cute, and tasty, too. And TINY: maybe a generous 2” end to end. A nice couple of bites with iced coffee.
Anyway, back to the kitchen. I made mini-scones with mini chocolate chips late in the afternoon; let them sit overnight, then glazed them in the morning.
Hallelujah—a straight-A student! Great scone recipe: check. Perfectly baked: check. Guessed exactly right on the glaze ingredients, and proportions: check. Figured out a fast, easy way to apply the glaze: check. Everyone loved 'em: check, check, CHECK.
And to top it off, a suspected (and now proven) benefit: the glaze extends the shelf life of these scones from a few hours to a few days. You can bake and glaze on Friday, then enjoy all weekend—which makes them the perfect hostess gift.
So, after that long-winded introduction, let's cut to the chase. Scone Nibbles: When all you want is a couple of sweet bites.
These sconelets start like any other scone recipe; in fact, the recipe I use here is for our Guaranteed Scones. Whisk together King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Add cold butter, cut in pats.
Work the butter into the dry ingredients till the mixture is unevenly crumbly; a few bigger chunks of butter, left unmixed, are fine.
Next, pick your chocolate. For miniature treats, I love our semisweet mini-chips.
See how much smaller they are than standard chips? Mini-chips give a better look to tiny treats, and more chocolate in every (small) bite.
Add the chips to the butter/flour mixture.
Stir to combine.
Next, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, and milk.
Add to the mixture in the bowl.
Mix just to combine. Inevitably, there'll be some flour left in the bottom of the bowl; use a plastic scraper or spatula to work it in.
Transfer the dough to a well-floured work surface. I'm using our silicone mat here, simply because it makes cleanup so darned easy.
Throw some flour atop the sticky dough.
Pat/roll it into an 8" to 8 1/2" square; it'll be about 3/4" thick.
I was having a bit of trouble visualizing exactly how to cut these. When in doubt, draw it out. Or, as carpenters say, measure twice, cut once. I drew a grid of 2" squares, then "cut" them all in half diagonally. Ah... light dawns on Marblehead. NOW I get it.
I used my favorite pizza wheel, this slick acrylic model, to cut the dough. Why do I like this particular wheel? Because it doesn't scare me (no whirling metal blade next to my thumb); and it's safe for silicone (within reason; obviously I don't bear down as hard as I can and TRY to slice the mat.)
After making these initial cuts, lift the scones and sprinkle more flour underneath. You want to make sure you'll be able to get them off the mat and onto the pan, once they're cut. Hint: If you do this all on floured parchment instead of a silicone mat, you can simply drag the parchment onto a half-sheet pan, and separate the tiny scones once they're cut, right on the parchment/pan.
Now, cut each square in half, using a knife...
...or pizza wheel.
Like this. You will have made 32 scone triangles, about 2" along their shorter sides.
Here they are, arrayed on the pan.
Place in the freezer for 30 minutes; no need to cover. This short freeze solidifies the butter, allowing scones to rise higher as they bake. Why? It takes longer for the butter to melt, so scones are able to rise and set before the tiny sheets/chunks of butter supporting the flour/liquid matrix melt and collapse.
Into a hot (425°F) oven they go.
About 19 minutes is all it takes to bake up a batch of golden scones.
Remove them from the oven, and let them cool right on the pan.
Next step: making 64 tiny scones out of 32 medium scones. Cut each triangle in half.
Like this. Don't feel like fussing? Happy with slightly larger scones? No need to cut.
You can see that I left some of these whole, and cut others. Just wanted to experiment with both sizes.
Next, the glaze. Mix confectioners' sugar and water; add vanilla, if you like.
Stir till smooth.
Get out your handy parchment and put a piece into a pan with sides. Pour about half the glaze into the pan.
Set the scones in the glaze, moving them around a bit to distribute the glaze.
Drizzle the remaining glaze on top.
Use a pastry brush to cover each scone with a coating of glaze. This is easier than it might look; the glaze is very thin and spreads easily.
Like this. They're sitting in a glaze bath, with glaze all over their tops.
Transfer the scones to a cooling rack to set and dry. As you do, run the sides through the glaze in the bottom of the pan, to ensure the entire scone is coated with glaze. Now, don't be too crazy here; you don't have to laboriously ensure that every side of each scone is completely coated with glaze. Just give 'em a quick swipe through the glaze as you pick them up.
LOVE that parchment— no pan to clean!
Pour the coffee. Serve the sconelets. Go ahead, have more than one—they're tiny!
Read, rate, and review (please!) our recipe for Scone Nibbles.
Buy vs. Bake
Buy: Starbucks Petite Vanilla Scones, 75¢ each
Bake at home: Scone Nibbles, 9¢ each