Our guide to Starbucks petite treats

One of my aunts likes to say she’d rather eat her calories than drink them, and I tend to agree. When I go to Starbucks I order plain black coffee. But every so often, when I’ve saved up an extra 200 calories or so, I like to treat myself to one of the new “petite” desserts.

Having worked my way through the menu the last few weeks (with Rowan’s help), I’ve got to say that while all eight selections look like something out of Martha Stewart Living, they’re not all worth the calorie expenditure. And don’t you just hate it when you save up for something, only to be disappointed?

Here’s our rankings, from worst to first:

8. Red Velvet Whoopie Pie: Unless you’ve got a thing for red velvet, this is nothing special. Boring. Bland. Personally, I’d rather have a Little Debbie oatmeal creme pie for 20 fewer calories and a fraction of the cost. Nutrition: 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 21 carbs, no measurable fiber, less than 1 gram of protein, 5 Weight Watchers points plus.

7. Rocky Road Cake Pop: If this were a brownie instead of a cake pop, maybe we’d rank it higher. The chocolate flavor is rich and dense, a definite plus. But there are just way too many marshmallow “boulders” on this tiny planetary surface. Which brings up another point: Why waste 180 calories on a “dessert” that’s essentially no bigger than a doughnut hole on a stick? Nutrition: 180 calories, 9 grams of fat, 23 carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 5 Weight Watchers Points Plus.

6. Birthday Cake Pop: This is probably the cutest entry in the petite category, and it’s fun to get one — once. But it’s overly sweet and ultimately not very satisfying, other than to look at. Nutrition: 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 22 carbs, 0 fiber, less than 1 gram of protein, 5 Weight Watchers Points Plus.

5. Tiramisu Cake Pop: The best-tasting cake pop, with a creamy cappucino-like coating, tasty pastry inside and a crunchy coffee bean on top. But it’s still a cake pop, which makes it more of a novelty item and less a dose of pure satisfaction for the calorie expenditure, in our book. Nutrition: 170 calories, 9 grams of fat, 22 carbs, zero fiber, less than 1 gram of protein, 5 Weight Watchers points plus.

4. Salted Caramel Sweet Square: This is one decadent bar, and the sweet-salty combination is nice. Plus, it’s not a cake pop. Still, a bar like this should be pure indulgence and not raise a bunch of questions in my mind, such as, “Doesn’t this taste rather similar to that toffee you can make out of Saltines and chocolate chips? Wouldn’t that be cheaper? Is this really worth 6 points, a full point more than anything else on the petite menu?” I’m not saying I wouldn’t eat one if it were the last thing on the dessert cart, but I just can’t lose myself in it, you know? Nutrition: 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 24 carbs, less than 1 gram fiber, 2 grams of protein, 6 Weight Watchers points plus.

3. Carrot Cake Mini Cupcake: Have you ever seen a prettier bite of carrot cake? The cream cheese frosting is as good as any I’ve ever had, and obviously way more artistically rendered. Rowan liked the fact that there were flecks of real carrot in the cake without disturbing the smooth texture. Personally, I like a chunkier carrot cake. But hey, I’d eat this again, and it doesn’t feel like a ripoff for 5 points. Nutrition: 190 calories, 11 grams of fat, 21 carbs, zero fiber, less than 1 gram of protein, 5 Weight Watchers points plus.

2. Peanut Butter Mini Cupcake:  A definite “gong” food, as they say. You could forget what planet you’re on eating one of these. And it’s awfully cute with its little three-cornered peanut butter cup hat on top. The only reason it’s not No.1 is that this cupcake, like most everything on the petite menu, is 5 points — and our winner somehow managed to combine scrumptious taste and presentation in a mere 3-point package. Nutrition: 180 calories, 10 grams of fat, 21 carbs, less than 1 gram of fiber, 3 grams of protein, 5 Weight Watchers points plus.


1. Lemon sweet square: I still can’t believe I ate a lemon dessert of any type, much less agreed that it “takes the cake” in this contest. But this is the only lemon bar I’ve ever had that didn’t taste fake. It’s both sweet and tart, glamorous yet light and refreshing, and at only 3 points it’s just not that devastating to your diet. Nutrition: 120 calories, 6 grams of fat, 16 carbs, zero fiber, 2 grams of protein, 3 Weight Watchers points plus.

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