Posts Tagged ‘vanilla’

American Style Vanilla Biscotti

March 8, 2011

Vanilla Biscotti

A few days ago I mentioned that I had come across two wonderful biscotti recipes. Today I’m writing about the second of those two recipes. Before I start talking about this particular biscotti I want to say that biscotti are no more difficult to make than drop cookies, and in some ways they’re easier because you can do more multi-tasking during their longer bake cycles.

These cookies aren’t the classic super hard biscotti. They’re crispy and great for dunking… or eating straight up if you don’t like to dunk.  I’ve made them with and without add ins, but I have to say that I’ve decided I like them best with no more than the flavor of vanilla. That said, I haven’t tried them with anise, and I think these might be a really good place for anise.

Tea time!

The recipe comes from the King Arthur Flour website. If you’re a novice biscotti baker you might want to check out the blog where PJ Hamel wrote about them. There are step by step photos that you might find helpful. One of the tips I like best is where you spray the baked log lightly with room temperature water before slicing the log into cookies.  This really seems to help in the quest for nice clean cuts.

The recipe with tips and variations can be found here. One more tip I’d like to share with you is that if you have vanilla bean paste this is a great place to use it in place of the regular vanilla. There’s something wonderful about those vanilla bean specks. I used Nielsen-Massey Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, which I ordered from King Arthur Flour.

If you love vanilla bean paste, here’s another good recipe where it really shines. Vanilla Ice Cream

Graham Cracker Cream Pie

November 30, 2010

Graham Cracker Cream Pie

I thought surely that I had put this recipe on my blog, but when my daughter recently asked for the recipe I realized that it isn’t here. This recipe comes from my maternal grandmother who made it for every major holiday since before I was born. It is my father’s favorite dessert, and it’s one of those things that makes the holidays complete. Frankly I don’t remember the last time I didn’t make it for a holiday. Our son loves it, and I think there would be great sadness if I didn’t whip one up for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

The pie does not have a cream topping, so I’ve always wondered why it’s called graham cracker cream pie, but you don’t argue with years of family tradition. The pie is a simple affair. Basically it’s a graham cracker crust, vanilla  filling and meringue topping.

You’ll notice in the photo that the meringue wept a little. For me and meringue that’s the norm. There are more complicated meringue toppings that are less likely to weep, but we keep this simple pie uncomplicated.

Crumb Crust

Preheat the oven to 375

1.5 c. graham cracker crumbs
1/4. c. sugar
1/3 c. melted butter

Mix the crumbs sugar and melted butter together. Press the crumb mixture into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake 8 minutes and then cool on a wire rack.

Vanilla Pie Filling

1/2 c. sugar
1/3 c. flour
1/4 t. salt
2 1/4 c. milk ( I  like whole milk best for this pie)
4 egg yolks
1 T. butter
2 t. vanilla extract

In 2 qt. saucepan mix together the sugar, flour, and salt. Stir in the milk until smooth. Over med. heat, cook the mixture stirring constantly until thickened and begins to boil. (about 10 minutes).  Boil 1 minute. Remove immediately from heat.

Beat egg yolks with small amount of hot milk mixture. Slowly pour egg mixture into saucepan, sitrring rapidly to prevent lumping. Over low heat, cook, stirring constantly until very thick (do not boil). The mixture should mound slightly when dropped from the spoon.

Remove from the heat and stir in the butter and vanilla.

Pour into pie crust.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees

4 room temperature egg whites
1/4 t. salt
1/2 c. sugar (I prefer to use super fine Baker’s Sugar for making meringue, but it isn’t essential)
With mixer at high speed beat egg whites and salt just until soft peaks form. Sprinkle in sugar 2 t. at a time beating after each addition until sugar is dissolved. The egg whites should stand in stiff glossy peaks.
Spread meringue over filling being sure to seal at the edges. Bake 10 minutes or until golden.

This works best if you have it all ready to go and put it onto the filling while the filling is still very hot.

Cool to room temperature and then chill in the refrigerator.

Vanilla Dreams and some surprise ingredients

December 31, 2008
Vanilla Dreams

Vanilla Dreams

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.

Secret ingredients

Secret ingredients

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. 🙂