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    Monday
    Dec212015

    Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

    I gave Vanilla Sugar to most of my friends and family this year, so I decided I should probably create a recipe that uses it. These Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies are just the thing. They’re simple, but with a fantastic vanilla flavor, chewy texture with just a bit of crunch from the sugar, they are anything but boring.

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
    • 1 ½ cups vanilla sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
    • 3 cups flour
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon baking powder
    • ½ teaspoon salt
    • ½ cup vanilla sugar for rolling 

    Be sure all of your ingredients are room temperature before you get started, then preheat your oven to 350°. Drop your two sticks of butter into the bowl of your mixer.

    Beat them for a minute or two until the butter I nice and soft and fluffy.

    Add 1 ½ cups of vanilla sugar and beat for another minute.

    Add one egg and beat until it’s incorporated.

    Scrape everything down and add the second egg and the vanilla.

    Mix again, until everything is completely incorporated.

    Now it’s time for the dry ingredients. For cookies, I usually just add them on top. The only time I bother to mix the in a separate bowl first is if there are lots of different spices or something. So go ahead and add the flour, baking soda and powder, and salt.

    Mix just until it’s combined. Your dough should be soft, but not sticky.

    I used a scoop that is about 1 ½ tablespoons, but size doesn’t matter. You can make them whatever size you like. For smaller cookies, subtract a minute from the cooking time and for larger ones, add a minute. Whatever size your balls are, drop them into a bowl of vanilla sugar and roll them around until their coated.

    Place them on a parchment lined sheet pan. See the little black seeds from the vanilla sugar? That’s what makes these cookies so delicious!

    Leave plenty of room between the cookies because they will spread as they bake.

    Now into the oven for 11 – 12 minutes.  When they’re done, they won’t be browned, but they’ll puff up nicely and start to get cracks over the surface.

    Allow them to sit on the pan for 5 minutes, then move them to a rack to finish cooling… except for the one you eat for ‘testing’ purposes. 

    I will be enjoying the holiday season in San Diego, because in my world, there is nothing better than a sunny beach on Christmas Day. What is your favorite holiday tradition?

     

    Friday
    Dec112015

    Eggnog Meltaway Cookies

    As you probably know from past posts, I love eggnog. I’ve made homemade eggnog, eggnog fudge, and eggnog cinnamon swirl scones that are to die for. Well, for this year’s second holiday cookie, I wanted to incorporated eggnog. I also wanted to try something I haven't made before. The answer… Eggnog Meltaway Cookies!

    Here’s what you’ll need: 

    • ¾ cup butter (1 ½ sticks)
    • 1 cup powdered sugar (divided)
    • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (divided)
    • 2 Tablespoons eggnog
    • 1 Tablespoon vanilla
    • 1 ¾ cups flour
    • 2 Tablespoons cornstarch
    • ¼ teaspoon salt 

    Make sure your butter and eggnog are room temperature before you get started, and preheat your oven to 350°. Place the butter into your mixing bowl.

    Mix it for a minute or so until it’s nice and soft and creamy.

    While that’s going, sift your powdered sugar.

    Add ⅓ cup of the sifted sugar to your butter and set the rest aside for later.

    Allow that to mix for a good two minutes. It should become a lovely pale color and look somewhat fluffy.

    Scrape everything down and add ½ teaspoon of the nutmeg. Now usually, I would insist that it needs to be freshly grated. I just bought a fresh bottle of already ground stuff from Penzeys, though, so that what I used this time. If you don’t want to grate your own, at least get some that’s fresh. Nutmeg loses its lovely flavor very quickly.

    Mix that in and add the eggnog.

    And then the vanilla.

    This is where things got a little scary for me. Let’s be honest, this just doesn’t look promising. Having never made meltaways before, I wasn’t sure if this was a problem. Well, I can now assure you that it is not.

    Go ahead and add the flour, cornstarch, and salt, and mix just until everything is incorporated.

    The dough should be slightly firm, but have a smooth, velvety texture.

    I used my smallest scoop, which is about 1 ½ Tablespoons, to scoop the dough. (I love these scoops btw)

    Place the dough on a parchment lined sheet pan or cookie sheet and press it with your fingers or palm.

    You should end up with rounds that are something like 1 ½ inches in diameter and ½ inch thick. They don’t need a whole lot of space between them because these cookies won’t really spread.

    Into the 350° oven for 15-16 minutes. They’ll look dry on top, but won’t be browned at all.

    Mine weren’t even browned on the bottom yet.

    Move them, parchment and all, to a rack to cool for 10 minutes. While they’re cooling, put the remaining powdered sugar and nutmeg into a large zip top bag.

    Mix those together, and when the cookies have had 10 minutes or so to cool, go ahead and drop them into the bag a few at a time.

    Shake them gently until they’re completely coated.

    Brush/shake off the excess and return them to the rack to finish cooling.  

    Aren’t they pretty? I was very pleased with the result. True to their name, they melt in your mouth as you eat them. The eggnog flavor is there, but it is quite subtle, which I thought was perfect for these delicate, little cookies.

    I topped them with just barely a sprinkle of nutmeg, for a little contrast and a touch more spice.

    What is your favorite holiday flavor? Eggnog? Peppermint? Gingerbread

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