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Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Vanilla Sable Cookies and Just Being Yourself


This is a recipe for a vanilla cookie.  As a chocoholic, a baker extraordinaire, and a lover of sweets, this simple vanilla cookie shouldn't interest me much.  It's not chocolatey.  It's not frosted.  It's not stuffed with something.  It's not even ooey gooey.  This previous post is more more my style: a scoop of delicious chocolate chip cookie dough sandwiched between two soft, delicious chocolate cookies.  But this Vanilla Sable Cookie is so perfectly marvelous, it doesn't need frosting or chocolate or even bits of candy bar sprinkled on top.  It is simply delicious just the way it is!

In life, we all need moments like that, when what we are is good enough.  No need to impress or sparkle or perform.  No need to look perfect or pretend we've got life all figured out.  At work, we tend to want to be flawless.  At home, we tend to want to be "right."  Those moments when we can let down our guard are rare and precious.  It's true, I can be lazy and messy, and I tend to be forgetful sometimes.  In the role of flawed little me, I am flawless!  We need moments to shine at simply being human.  So, take a moment and acknowledge the fact that even though you may not have perfect hair or the perfect family or the perfect job, you are marvelous, just the way you are!

These little Vanilla Sable Cookies are a perfect example of this.  There have no frosting, no filling, and no chocolate chips.  There is no excitement.  No one says "Wow!" when they look at these.  But just one taste brings to light the simple beauty of vanilla.   And most likely, you'll eat several before the day is through.  They are just plain good.  Try them!



Vanilla-Bean Sable Cookies
Adapted from Fine Cooking

2 soft plum vanilla beans (I used 1-2 tablespoons of vanilla bean paste)
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup confectioners' sugar
1 large egg yolk
2 cups all-purpose flour

1 large egg yolk
Sanding sugar (I used turbinado sugar)

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape out the seed pulp into a small bowl.  Add the sugar, and stir until blended. 

In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or in a large bowl with a hand mixer, mix the butter on low speed until smooth and creamy  (you don't want it to get light and fluffy), about 1 minute. Mix in the salt.  Add the vanilla sugar and the confectioners' sugar and mix until smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the bowl as needed.  Add 1 large egg yolk and mix for 1 minute. Still on low speed, mix in the flour until just blended; the dough will be soft. 

Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and knead it gently a few times. Divide it in half and shape each half into a 9-inch log.  Wrap each log in wax paper or parchment paper and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. 

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.  Combine 1 egg yolk with a splash of water and apply the logs using a pastry brush or your fingers.  Roll each log in sanding sugar until well-coated. (I sprinkled the sugar on.)  Trim the ends of the logs if they're ragged.  (I ate the ragged pieces...yum!)  Using a sharp knife, cut each log into 1/2-inch-thick rounds.  Place them on baking sheets 2 inches apart.  Bake each sheet until cookies start to brown around the edges and the bottoms are golden, 15-20 minutes.  (Mine were done in 14 minutes.)  Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to a cooling and let cool completely before serving.  Sables shouldn't be eaten warm; they need to cool so that their texture can set properly. 

Enjoy!