My husband Allen and I often had opposite preferences when it came to food. I love chocolate desserts, he would always go for fruit pies. I wanted fish, he preferred beef. My dressing on a salad was usually a vinaigrette. Allen loved creamy blue cheese dressing. I like crisp, chocolate cookies, he wanted soft, vanilla ones.
The very first time he took me to the Dairy Queen, we walked up to the window counter as he asked me what I would like. So, I answered, “A hot fudge supreme made with chocolate ice cream.” His order? A small vanilla cone. He still married me.
SO HARD TO RESIST
Allen would always come into the kitchen and ask, “Is this for us, or are you taking this to someone else?” If it was chocolate, he was never too concerned. But if it was a vanilla flavored treat, he always wanted his fair share.
This cookie was one of his favorites: lightly browned and slightly crispy on the edge, but with a soft, cakelike center. And simply, but intensely flavored with pure vanilla. I have to admit, Vanilla Paste cookies are perfect with a cup of tea or coffee.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VANILLA PASTE AND VANILLA EXTRACT
What, exactly, is vanilla bean paste? It isn’t really as thick as paste but is thicker than extract. The consistency falls somewhat between maple syrup and corn syrup—with those fantastic flecks of vanilla bean seeds suspended throughout.
Vanilla bean paste is less expensive than whole vanilla beans. In addition, it is and more convenient to use because the splitting and scraping is already done for you. One teaspoon of vanilla paste is generally equivalent to one vanilla bean. Compared to vanilla extract, the paste has a more intense flavor. You can tell when you take a whiff of the aroma from the opened jar.
I won’t be giving up my pure vanilla extract, nor will I stop using fresh vanilla beans. There are times and reasons for using any of the vanilla options. Vanilla bean paste stays fresher much longer than whole beans and is easy to keep on hand.I like using the paste when I want those little flecks to make it clear that something is really going to taste like vanilla. It is perfect for custard, pudding, shortbread, pound cake, whipped cream, frosting, or these enticing Vanilla Paste Cookies.
This cookie dough is simple to mix up, and doesn’t have a lot of ingredients. Just cream the butter, sugar and eggs. Then put in a large dollop–a whole tablespoon–of the oozy, flavorful vanilla bean paste and the scent will immediately tell you that you are in for a treat. Combine the dry ingredients and stir it all together.
Bake the cookies until they are just starting to brown on the edges. I usually transfer baked cookies to wire racks immediately when they come from the oven. But not in this case. Put the whole cookie sheet on wire racks for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to the wire racks to finish cooling.
VANILLA PASTE COOKIES
- 1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon pure vanilla paste or extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line cookie sheets with parchment paper or silpat liners.
In a large bowl, beat the butter until smooth. Add the sugar and continue beating until well combined, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and beat until well blended. Then add the vanilla and beat until thoroughly combined.
Whisk the flour, salt and baking powder together in another bowl. Add the flour to the butter mixture and blend on low speed until just blended. Drop by tablespoonfuls about 3 inches apart on the cookie sheet. Bake two sheets at a time for 10-12 minutes, swapping the sheets’ positions halfway through the baking time. Edges should be golden brown. Remove cookie sheets and put them on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely.
Store in an airtight container at room temperature. Cookies can be frozen for a month.