If you are a coffee-loving parent like me, you can probably relate to the scenario when I pop into a Starbucks with my kids in tow. I certainly don’t get Starbucks every day, and there are plenty of times I have gotten coffee for myself and nothing for them. When I indulge them, however, it usually ends up being for hot chocolate or vanilla bean frappuccinos. I always get them a tall, and ever so often convince them to forego the whipped cream on top.
Even the smaller size of the frappuccino is loaded with sugar; a tall contains 39g to be exact, as well as artificial flavor and carrageenan. While they only enjoy it as an occasional treat, I thought it would be great to come up with a homemade version that I wouldn’t feel mom guilt for serving them.
I got some ideas from the blog Something Swanky, namely the clever technique of freezing some of the frappuccino base to avoid having to water the drink down with ice. I used unsweetened vanilla almond milk, but any milk (including “regular” if you do dairy) would work. While you could certainly use vanilla extract, I really recommend trying this one with real vanilla bean. It gives a much more authentic flavor and adds those characteristic little flecks to the treat that make it worthy of its name.
I struggled a bit with the sweetener, but I think after four tries I found the perfect balance. Ashton from Something Swanky makes hers with 1 tbs. of sugar, but I really wanted to cut it down. One tbs. of sugar is equivalent to 12g of sugar, which is still relatively high. When I tried to make the drink with only stevia it had a bit of an aftertaste. Combining the two yielded just the right level of sweetness.
To be true to Starbucks I topped the treat off with whipped cream. I didn’t make my own but used store-bought vegan whip from Whole Foods. You could use any homemade or prepared version or skip it if desired.
Dairy-Free Vanilla Bean “Frap”
adapted from Something Swanky
1 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
1 tsp. organic cane sugar
a couple drops of vanilla stevia
1/4 of a vanilla bean
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Scrape the vanilla bean into the cup of milk.
Whisk in remaining ingredients.
Freeze 1/2 cup of the mixture in a ice cube tray. Cover the remaining 1/2 cup and chill until the ice cubes are ready.
Put the ice cubes and remaining almond milk mixture in a blender and process until smooth. Add 1-2 tsp milk if necessary to make the drink thinner.
Serve top with whipped cream, if desired.