Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

As promised, here’s today’s second post! Now let me start off by saying this: Don’t let the title fool you. I did not bake some bland old cookie that nobody would ever want. Trust me on this one. Shall I show you proof?

Vanilla bean? Check. Batter made. Check. Eaten more than you should have of the dough? MAJOR check! Roll and freeze dough. Check.

Cut chilled dough. Place onto cookie sheets and bake for 8 minutes (well, honestly, 5 minutes in my convection oven). Check!

Take out of oven. Let cool 1 minute on cookie sheets. Transfer to wire rack. Let cool a bit more. Check, check, check, and check!

Take a bite. It’s necessary work to taste test as soon as possible!!! CHECK! (The verdict? Yummy!).

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But you know I couldn’t leave it at that!

Make a caramel sauce. Mmmm. Check.

Drizzle about 1/4 of the cookies with caramel. Check.

What about the other 3/4 of the cookies? You’ll see!

Chop chocolate. Add a dash of vegetable oil. Melt chocolate. Check!

Drizzle about another 1/4 (of original amount) of the cookies with chocolate. Check.

Not done yet!

Drizzle about another 1/4 (of original amount) of cookies with chocolate. Then drizzle with caramel. Check!

Leave rest of cookies in their wonderful simplicity! Check!

The end result? A variety of yummy cookies including chocolate drizzle, caramel drizzle, chocolate and caramel drizzle, and simply plain!

The details:

The Process: The cookies themselves are quite easy to make. Technically, you don’t have to chill the dough…you could just scoop it. But in my opinion, chilling and slicing was a nice option for this type of cookie. And you could stop after the cookies come out of the oven and enjoy them as is. Or you could be like me and experiment a bit. The caramel sauce I made for these is not the same I used here. Instead, this recipe is a little more foolproof…a bit harder to mess up (and I should mention it tastes positively delicious!). The chocolate sauce? Simple as melting some chocolate. No, seriously…it’s that simple (well, you add a  touch of vegetable oil if microwaving, but still!).

Notes on Ingredients Used: Perhaps you’re looking at the ingredient list and saying, “Vanilla bean?! Where on earth am I supposed to find one!!!?” Or, maybe it’s more like this, “Vanilla bean? Are you crazy?!! They’re so expensive!” Well, I can answer both questions! I buy my vanilla beans from a store specializing in spices. You could also find them online. Just search around! Secondly, yes, vanilla beans can be expensive. But, if you buy in bulk (like I do), you’ll save a lot of money. Really. You will. And, yes, you could just omit the vanilla bean…but that wouldn’t be any fun! The vanilla bean truly adds a great touch. For the chocolate topping, I used semi-sweet chocolate, because it’s what I happened to have on hand. I’m sure you could also use a dark or milk chocolate, and it would turn out beautifully as well. It comes down to personal taste.

The Verdict: Well, honestly, I’m the only one to have tried these so far. I promise I’ll update this post as soon as I get other opinions. I’m going to bite the bullet though and say this is a keeper recipe. It’s one you can really play around with, as I did, to customize to your liking. You can also simply enjoy the cookie without any extra toppings…they’re good like this too! And did I mention how good the dough is?! It’s super, super good! UPDATE: Rob tried the caramel drizzle cookie, and said it was very good. He loves caramel, so I’m not surprsied!

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies 
Adapted from Sugarlaws

1 cup butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 vanilla bean, scraped
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/2 cups flour

Preheat oven to 400 degrees (if scooping dough). In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter and sugar. Add vanilla extract, eggs, and seeds from vanilla bean (note the first few pictures…scrape the “goodness”* out of the bean and then simply put that on the beaters…this way all of your “goodness” gets into the dough).

Sift together the baking powder and flour, and add to the wet ingredients. Choose one of following methods.

Scoop and bake: Shape cookies into balls and place on a greased cooking sheet, flattening slightly with your palm. Bake for 8 minutes (don’t overbake!), allow to cool in the baking sheet for 1 minute, and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.

Chill, slice, and bake (recommended option): Form dough into logs on waxed paper, with a diameter of about 1 inch** Chill in freezer for about 1 hour, or until nicely firm. Preheat oven to 400 degress. Cut pieces about 1/2 thick. Lay on greased cooking sheet, about 2 inches apart. Bake for 8 minutes (don’t overbake!), allow to cool in the baking sheet for 1 minute, and transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Eat as is, or make any number of the following toppings. Feel free to add your own touch as well.

Makes about 75 small cookies.

*Don’t you love my technical terminology?!

**diameter can be whatever you want…cooking times may vary

Caramel Sauce

Adapted from Allrecipes.com

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup butter

1 tablespoons light corn syrup

1/2 tablespoon vanilla

Combine all ingredients in small saucepan. Set over heat and bring to gentle simmmer for about 3-4 minutes, until slightly thickened. Drizzle over cookies using spoon. Note that this recipe can be used for topping other desserts as well.

Chocolate Drizzle

3 oz. semi-sweet chocolate (or chocolate of your choice)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil, if microwaving (see melting choices)

Chop chocolate. Choose one of following options.

Mircrowave: Place chocolate in microwave-safe bowl. Add vegetable oil. Melt in microwave, watching carefully to not burn chocolate at all. (Mircowave times vary, so it is best to carefully watch on your own…start with about 20-30 seconds and go from there. Remember you can always heat for a longer amount of time, but once the chocolate burns, it cannot be reversed!).

Double Boiler: Put chocolate in double boiler. Heat until melted. Do not burn chocolate.

Drizzle over cookies using spoon. Note that this recipe can also be used to top other desserts.

Note: You can make the chocolate and caramel topped cookies I also made by making both the caramel sauce and chocolate drizzle. Then, drizzle chocolate over cookies. Next, drizzle caramel over cookies. Try to do about equal amounts with possibly a bit more caramel. Again, it’s all about personal taste.

My final advice?: Yum! I’d make ’em again! If you have a picky eater, the cookies on their own are sure to please!

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