April 16, 2013

Soft Vanilla Cookies

The job has been taking over my life, you guys. We've got the construction of a new call center space on the first floor right by my desk, a part of the company was bought by a different company, so I've had all these employees-but-not-really-employees and non-employees-but-kind-of-employees coming to me for help because they're not on the network, or no one told them squat before coming here, and we've picked up a new contract so I've got 30 people starting this week alone. On Thursday alone, I was there 12 hours straight.

But I've got nothing on G, who picked up almost triple the amount of overtime I did, because we had one of our sites move buildings, another switched security systems, we upgraded our own security system, and of course, nothing went smoothly. Now she's sick, which is honestly not surprising, and she's going to take the time to relax and get better, or so help me, I'm strapping her down to a bed. Honestly, that woman thinks she's superhuman or something.

So when it came time for me to bake this weekend, I was honestly just in the mood for something sweet and simple. Nothing complicated, nothing that would take too long, something that yielded minimum effort and maximum reward.
I was craving some big, soft cookies, and I decided on vanilla to satisfy my need for simple and sweet. I added some cornstarch to help keep them soft (and a little too much leavening. I've reduced that in the recipe. But if you like super puffy cookies, increase the baking powder to 1 1/2 teaspoons).

Vanilla is one of those ingredients that is used almost all the time in baking, but is rarely ever allowed to shine by itself. When it is, it tastes old-fashioned and classic, like a soft-serve ice cream cone on a warm summer day. It's something that's never going out of style.

These cookies are soft without quite getting cakey, sweet without being overly so, and the tops are speckled with real crushed vanilla beans from the vanilla sugar. And they've got that sort of simple, old-fashioned flavor that would make them great with tea.
The sister-in-law loved these so much that she asked me where I got the recipe.
Me: I made it up.
SIL: How do you do that?
Me: I just kind of throw ingredients into the mixer until it looks like cookie dough.

And now you know my top-secret, totally scientific process. Shhhh

Soft Vanilla Cookies {Printable Version}
Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

1 cup granulated sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 eggs
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
2 cups, plus 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
3 tbsp. corn starch
1 tsp. baking powder
½ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. vanilla sugar

Preheat the oven to 375°F. In the bowl of a stand mixer, or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters, beat the butter and sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Add the eggs and vanilla, mixing well after each addition. In a separate bowl, mix together the flour, corn starch, baking powder, and salt. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour mixture to the butter mixture, and mix until fully incorporated.

Drop the dough by rounded tablespoonful on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a silpat mat, leaving minimum 2 inches between each. Using your finger or a fork dipped in water, flatten each cookie slightly. Sprinkle with vanilla sugar and bake about 8 minutes, or until the bottoms start to brown. Cool completely on wire racks.

Recipe by Kim