These will be the last sugar cookies of 2008 at my house. It is good to end the sugar cookie spree on a high note. It’s time for something chocolate or something savory, but before I move on I’ll write about these Vanilla Dreams. They are light and crisp and have a nice vanilla flavor thanks to the vanilla bean paste. The unique texture comes from baker’s ammonia also known as hartshorn. The vanilla bean paste and the baker’s ammonia are ingredients that are both worth searching for as they lend unique texture and flavor to the cookies.
It has been very cold here and the furnace runs constantly so the humidity level is much like the desert southwest despite the huge snowfall we got yesterday. I’m thinking the dry air contributed to the fact that the dough would not come together despite prolonged mixing. I was about to add more butter to the mixture but I was concerned that more fat would make the cookies spread. I was reluctant to add water and then it occurred to me. Vodka! If you can use it in pie crust, why not try it in cookies? Having no experience with the baker’s ammonia I wondered if the vodka would interact with it in a strange way, but I lucked out and a teaspoon of vodka brought the dough together without adding any taste or spread to my cookies.
I had toasted nuts in advance thinking I would pretty these cookies up with a bit of melted chocolate and a dip in the toasted nuts, but my husband and son like them so much as they are that they vetoed the idea.
The bakers at King Arthur Flour blogged about this recipe earlier in December. You can read about it at King Arthur Flour Baker’s Banter There are links to the recipe as well as links to where they sell their vanilla bean crush and baker’s ammonia. You are on your own with the vodka. :-)