Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Very Vanilla Chippers

It's funny how I struggle to break out the good stuff.  I had one last vanilla bean from my precious supply and I wanted to make the "right" decision on how to use it.  Vanilla beans are definitely not something I have in my pantry all the time.  They are expensive and a little luxurious to me, so I often wind up just keeping them on the shelf for way too long and dreaming about how to use them instead of actually using them.

A couple of days ago, I had a "vision" for a cookie recipe and I threw caution to the wind and used my last vanilla bean, but kind of hesitantly, because in the back of my mind, a vanilla bean should be used for a show stopping dessert like a cheesecake or a soufflé or something.  But I'm pretty sure I made the right decision because these cookies were a HUGE hit.

My girl came by last night and ate one or six and then took some home to her family.  Then she texted me, "YOU NEED TO MAKE THESE COOKIES AGAIN, MOM, THEY ARE AWESOME!"  That made me feel good.

So if you are like me, just go ahead and get over it and break out the good stuff you were saving for a special occasion.   The good china.  Grandma's old lace tablecloth.  The vanilla beans.  Use them and enjoy them with your loved ones this Christmas.  Use them and enjoy them even when it's NOT Christmas.  Like on a regular Tuesday.  Or a Thursday.  Or whenever.  We can't take this stuff with us when we go, so let's make the most of our material things and enjoy them now with the ones we love.

Here are my notes:

--These cookies, like the name, are very vanilla-y, which is exactly what I wanted.  If you don't want to go out and buy a vanilla bean, then don't.  I think the 2 tablespoons of pure vanilla extract will give you a nice vanilla flavor.   But the vanilla bean does take them over the top.

--To scrape a vanilla bean, just slice lengthwise and then use your knife to scrape out the very tiny seeds.  Save that shell for vanilla sugar!

--To make homemade vanilla sugar, place a vanilla bean (the "used" vanilla bean after you have scraped out the seeds for another use) in some sugar.  I usually use a five pound bag to one vanilla bean.  Let it sit in your cabinet for days or weeks and the sugar will be infused with the vanilla.  Use it for all kinds of baking.  It's totally yummy.

--I rolled these cookies in a bourbon vanilla sugar I had from Rodelle (which I loved!).  But you could roll them in regular sugar, or homemade vanilla sugar.  Or not even roll them at all.  By the way, I didn't "roll" them into neat little balls with my hand, I just plopped them in the sugar with a cookie scoop and very quickly rolled them around.  They were still rough and irregular shaped.

Very Vanilla Chippers

1 cup butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar or vanilla sugar (made from putting a vanilla bean in granulated sugar and letting it set for a few days)
3/4 cup brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons white vinegar
2 tablespoons vanilla
The seeds from one vanilla bean
3 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 (12-ounce) bag vanilla chips
Vanilla sugar or bourbon vanilla sugar for coating the outside of cookies

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and beat until mixed.  Beat in vinegar, vanilla and vanilla bean.  Mix together the flour, salt, baking soda, and cornstarch in a large bowl. Slowly add to batter and mix just until blended. Stir in the vanilla chips by hand until mixed. 

Place some vanilla sugar or bourbon vanilla sugar in a small bowl.  Using a small cookie scoop, drop the dough into the sugar, rolling it to coat all sides. Place on baking sheet about 1 1/2 inches apart.  Bake for 12-15 minutes or until cookies are set and light golden brown around.  Cool on baking sheet for 2 minutes before transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.  
Disclaimer:  Rodelle sent me a gift pack of vanilla products, but I was not asked to review or write anything about it.  All opinions are my own.

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