The Perfect Vanilla Cookie Recipe
My search for the Perfect Cookie Recipe was a long, but very fun, road! It had to be a crunchy cookie, like we all love here in Europe. It should hold its shape very well. And off course, it needed to be super delicious!! But it wasn't easy to find all that, in 1 cookie. Since most famous cookie decorators are from the US, the first point was the hardest to find. I loved the texture of the Basic Sugar Cookie from Sweet Sugarbelle, which it gained from the powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar. And the taste from Lilaloa's Chocolate Cookies is just amazing! They are like brownies but in the shape of cookies. However, both weren't the crunchy kind I was looking for...
So after a lot of trial and error, this became my favourite basic cookie recipe: The Perfect Vanilla Cookie Recipe
Cream 250 gram softened butter with 150 gram powdered sugar together. Do this with a paddle attachment, not with a whisk.
Add 1 big egg, 1/2 teaspoon salt and vanilla* and mix until just incorporated. You don't want to add to much air into the mixture here.
Gradually add about 480 gram flour and mix until it comes together. It shouldn't stick to your fingers when you tough it.
I roll my dough between baking paper so that it's ready to go as soon as it is cooled. To cool, just stick it in the freezer for 30 minutes or in the fridge for 2 hours. As soon as you get your sheet out the fridge/freezer you can start cutting out your cookies.
Bake the cookies 15-40 minutes on 160ºC (depending on the size of your cookies). If you're baking big cookies, you might want to turn down the heat after 10 minutes to about 130ºC. The cookies are done when they feel firm and have a nice gold colour. Yes you want your cookies to brown a bit! That's all part of the amazing taste! Let your cookies sit on a cooling rack for a while to cool down, this way they get nice and crisp :) They will stay nice and fresh for 3 (!!) months if you pack them airtight.
*Vanilla So the vanilla needs some more explaining. I used to add 1 tsp vanilla extract and 1 tsp of vanilla paste. However, with the disappointing harvest, the prices for vanilla are sky-high at the moment. That's why, what I use, depends on what I can find for a realistic price. Recently I found vanilla powder, that is ground vanilla beans. It's very strong in flavour, so I use 3/4 to 1 tsp for this recipe. The taste of it is amazing, but it will affect the colour of your dough. The more you add, the more 'grey' your dough will become.
I always make at least 2 batches of dough (that will just fit in your KitchenAid) and put all the rolled out cookie sheets in the freezer. If I need them to stay in there longer than a few days, I'll take them out as soon as they are frozen and wrap them in foil to prevent freezer burn. They will stay good for up to 3 months.
The cut out cookies are the easiest to handle when the dough is cold and it will prevents them from spreading. If I'm baking large or extra large cookies, I always put them back in the freezer for 15 minutes before baking. That will help them to keep their shape.
Often your cookies will become uneven in hight while they are baking. That are air bubbles that are expanding within the dough. To solve that, all you need to do is getting a fondant smoother while your cookies are still in the oven (they should start to settle), and just press the air out of them.
You can reroll your dough. Because you don't use flour with the rolling, the dough will stay the same. However, the more you knead the dough, the more the gluten will develop. And that will change your dough. It will still taste amazing, but it can start to look a bit more crackled after several rolles. As long as you're planning to cover your cookies with Royal Icing, no one will know ;)