Twice in my teens, I flew 3000 miles across the country to visit NYC. The first time, my grandparents treated my dad and me to a week of Broadway shows, Bloomingdales, ferry rides, and Central Park. A few years later, Dad and I dragged my mom and brother back to the Big Apple under the guise of a family vacation, while our true priorities lay with watching baseball games at Shea and Yankee Stadium. (Only 9 more parks to go!)
On both trips, we booked rooms at the Hotel Beacon. Our views overlooked Broadway Street, and we amused ourselves by watching throngs of people rush by the Fairway Market across the road. Although we only visited once with my grandparents, we stopped in nearly every day on our second vacation. Mom always stashed plenty of snacks, fresh fruit, and veggies for us in her backpack while out sightseeing!
With a little kitchenette in the room, we also grazed on breakfast foods each morning before hitting the streets. To stock up, we browsed the bakery section of the Fairway Market in pursuit of lemon poppy seed muffins for my brother (his childhood favorite) and “something interesting” for Dad. At an end cap, I spotted bags of freshly baked scones and immediately plopped the cranberry ones in the basket.
A year before, I sampled my first scone in Seattle while on a different baseball trip with Dad. Mesmerized by the crunchy sugar-coated crust and soft moist interior, I quickly devoured mine and actually stole most of his too! I reasoned that if we were both infatuated with those scones, these would be a huge hit too, so Mom and I paid the cashier, walked out, and sprinted across the streets flashing “No Walk” signs with our plastic bags bouncing like locals.
A few months later, I saw the Nutrition Label for a typical large bakery-style scone and just about collapsed onto the ground. So much butter! So much fat!
But today, I’ve created healthier scones you can actually feel good about eating, especially after all of the cookies, candy, and fudge we all indulged in during the holidays. These Maple Pecan Scones are secretly skinny and low in fat, but they’re just as soft and moist as those butter-laden ones!
These lightened scones start with a mix of all-purpose and whole wheat flours. The all-purpose flour helps the scones rise and prevents their interiors from turning too dense, while the whole wheat flour adds fiber and nutrients. (It also gives the scones a subtle nutty undertone, which pairs perfectly with the pecans!)
I only cut a mere 2 tablespoons of butter into the scone dough. Yes, only 2! I know that sounds crazy, but these scones still turned out incredibly light because of my secret weapon: Greek yogurt. Greek yogurt adds a lot of moisture without all of the fat and calories from butter, and it also bumps up the protein content!
I mixed in two sources of maple: maple syrup and maple extract. The syrup lacked enough maple taste to completely flavor the scones. You’d need to pour in practically half the bottle, which would result in a huge sticky mess (and a big sugar crash later!). The extract greatly increased the maple flavor without adding lots of empty calories. Don’t skip it! (And you can make these maple bacon breakfast cheesecakes with the leftover extract!)
To create that characteristic crisp exterior, brush on a generous coating of milk and sprinkle with a pinch of sugar. After baking in the oven, they turn into a beautiful golden brown crust with the perfect kiss of sweetness. It just might be the best part of the scones!
I pressed my pecans on top of the milk-and-sugar coating because I strongly dislike nuts inside of my baked goodies. Even as an adult, I still pick them out to nibble on separately! By placing the pecans on top, it created a pretty finishing touch that I could pull off and eat as soon as I finished the photo shoot. But feel free to fold yours into the scone dough before dividing it up for baking!
If you made a New Year’s Resolution to start eating healthier, bake more homemade meals, or lose that last bit of holiday weight, these healthy Maple Pecan Scones are the perfect guilt-free breakfast pastry for you!
The scones barely require 30 minutes to make: 15 minutes of mixing, 15 minutes (tops) of baking, and 30 seconds to devour. The soft fluffy interior contrasts beautifully against the crisp sugary crust, while the toasted pecans add a wholesome taste to the light golden treats. Trust me… They’re irresistible!
Ready to start baking?