December 19, 2009

Vanilla-Bean Sugar Cookies

Just like my trouble replacing the taste of butter in yellow cake, tasty sugar cookies were in the past a troublesome thing to make dairy-free. For me nothing could make up for the lack of real butter in such a simple cookie, but real vanilla beans come to the rescue once again in this Gourmet magazine recipe I adapted. Get baking now if you want these ready in time for Christmas. I've made these several times and giving the dough an extra day or two in the fridge lets the vanilla flavor develop and really pays off.

Dairy-free Vanilla-Bean Sugar Cookies
My dairy-free adaptation of the Gourmet magazine recipe for Vanilla-Bean Sugar Cookies found on Epicurious
Makes 3-4 dozen cookies

1/2 cup Earth Balance margarine*
3/4 cup sugar + more to roll in
2 vanilla beans
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder

*If you aren't an EB fan and use another margarine you might want to add a pinch of salt. I use EB in the tub and it's always a little heavy on the salt.

-Beat the margarine with 3/4 cup of sugar and the scraped seeds from both vanilla beans until light in color. Adding the vanilla seeds to the creaming process helps spread them evenly throughout the dough.
-Add the egg and vanilla extract to the creamed margarine mixture and beat to combine.
-In a separate bowl, whisk (or sift) together the flour and baking powder. Then add to the creamed mixture in two or three doses beating just until combined.
-Spoon the dough onto a sheet of plastic wrap (or parchment paper) and roll into a log. Make the log approximately 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Add another protective wrap of aluminum foil or a second layer of plastic. You don't want any funky flavors sneaking into these cookies from your fridge!
-Chill the dough, ideally for 2-3 days but at least overnight.
-When you are ready to bake, preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
-Take half a log at a time, the Earth Balance margarine softens quickly so it's best to not work with the whole log at once. Roll the log in sugar to coat the outside and then cut 1/4 inch slices.
-Lay the slices on your cookie sheets at least 1 inch apart and bake for 9-11 minutes, until golden brown on the edges.
-Allow the cookies to cool slightly on the cookie sheets before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough.

Yesterday I received my last fall 9 Bean Rows share. New Year's Day will start the winter share and I'm excited to see what it will have. Here's this week's goodies: (clockwise from top right)
red Swiss chard (which was very good last week - I'm growing to love it), kale, baguettes, lots of herbs (rosemary, parsley, oregano and even a sprig of tarragon), yellow potatoes, collards, garlic, red potatoes, apples, salad mix and bok choi
I plan on making a big batch of dairy-free potato pierogies for Christmas Eve, with some extra to freeze, and if I have time in between the rest of the cookie and candy making I'll also whip up a doubled recipe of the Daring Baker Danish Braid to use up some of my apples and feed our post-Christmas house guests.

P.S. Notice the ornament with the cookies? I finally got around to making something with the Michigan-grown heartnut shells from summer '08! My son Alex and I had fun glittering the insides a few weeks back.