Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Headstart Holiday Baking: Vanilla Pillows
One of our favorite Christmas cookie recipes that I'm NEVER allowed to skip are the wonderful, tender, melting and vanilla-laden Vanilla Pillows. Far from being a boring or plain cookie, these have amped up vanilla flavor and a divine texture. I'm putting them up here now, because while they are easy to make, there is a certain amount of lead time needed to make the Vanilla Sugar that coats them. Like two weeks, minimum. That, and making them in advance actually improves their flavor.
Here is the Vanilla Sugar recipe. Make it in a large glass jar with a screw on lid and you can keep the jar going all the time for Vanilla Pillows whenever the mood strikes you:
Vanilla Sugar for Vanilla Pillows
(requires a minimum of two weeks for flavors to marry properly)
2 cups sugar
1 vanilla bean
Cut a slit in the vanilla bean, and place it in a large GLASS jar with a tight fitting lid (tall enough for the vanilla bean -- like a peanut butter jar) and scoop the sugar in around it. Shake the jar every couple of days for at least two weeks to marry the flavors. Use to coat Vanilla Pillows.
great Christmas favorite, makes 180 cookies!
4 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks, or 8 oz.) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup shortening (Crisco)
1 cup confectioners (10X) sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, salt and baking soda; set aside.
Cream the butter and shortening together until fluffy, and add the confectioners sugar a little at a time until all is added, then beat for 2 additional minutes. Add granulated sugar a little at a time until it is all added, then beat an additional 2 minutes. Add yolks one at a time, beating well between each addition; add vanilla and beat one additional minute. Add flour in 3 additions, blending at low speed until it is just combined after each addition. Chill dough, covered, for 2 hours.
Have ready a wide flat bowl with Vanillla Sugar (see recipe above). Roll a teaspoon of dough into a ball, then roll in vanilla sugar, coating completely. Place on a parchment lined cookie sheet, 1.5" apart, and flatten slightly with a cross hatch design with the tines of a fork. Bake at 375 degrees for 8 to 9 minutes. Cookies should be very pale golden on bottom.
Transfer to racks to cool. Store in AIRTIGHT tins/containers (important to develop flavor!) overnight before serving.
These keep very well, with the flavor improving over time. Keeps up to two weeks.
Makes 180 cookies.