Riches Beyond Your Wildest Beans

Good vanilla is more precious than most gemstones right now. Believe it or not, demand for this everyday extract is skyrocketing while supply of the genuine article is plummeting due to devastating cyclones in Madagascar, poor harvests, and labor shortages. Some unsavory companies are resorting to questionable shortcuts, using spent, ground vanilla bean pods to add those eye-catching black flecks to their products. Doing so allows them to list “vanilla beans” on the label, even if the actual flavor comes from artificial ingredients. It’s not just food products though; try going straight to the source, and you might be surprised to find that even basic baking extracts are far from whole blends.

For something as important as holiday cookies, quality counts more than ever. Sugar cookies especially rely on full-bodied, robust vanilla flavor. An elusive, nuanced taste that’s difficult to capture in baked dough, the difference between a chemical cocktail and the genuine article is immediately evident with a single bite. Now is the time to splurge on the good stuff, revel in it, fully indulge yourself and your loved ones, and look back on your festive contributions with zero regrets.

Highlighting the very best vanilla I know, I’ve joined forces with Rodelle Kitchen to participate in their annual Holiday Cookie Campaign. Starting with an unconventional base of cocoa butter rather than a neutral oil imparts the ambrosial flavor like pure white chocolate, but in cookie form. Tender, chewy morsels punctuated by a barrage of crunchy macadamia nuts, no one would dare call this “plain vanilla.” Notes of marshmallow, custard, and even rich toffee all come from a generous dose of vanilla paste, unleashing a world of sweet flavors from one humble bean.

GIVEAWAY ALERT! Just in time for holiday baking, Rodelle has generously offered to gift one lucky reader with a bundle of their sweet riches. Stocked with an 8 ounce canister of baking cocoa, 4 ounce bottle of pure vanilla extract, and 2 count vanilla bean jar, the treats such ingredients can manifest will be truly priceless. To enter, get the details below, and tell me about your favorite holiday cookies in the comment section. Do you have a classic heirloom recipe passed down for generations, or do you put a new twist on tradition every year? Extra credit goes to anyone willing to share their secret formula!

Rodelle Vanilla Holiday Baking Bundle Giveaway

Regular old roll-out cookies will crumble in the face of these bold, buttery, unapologetically vanilla treats. Fancy frostings need not apply; these beauties already sparkle with natural plant-based sprinkles baked right in.

White Chocolate Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies

4 Ounces 100% Food-Grade Cocoa Butter
1/4 Cup Vegan Butter
1 Cup Granulated Sugar
2 1/2 Cups All-Purpose Flour
1/2 Teaspoon Salt
1 Teaspoon Baking Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Baking Soda
1/4 Cup Aquafaba
1 Tablespoon Rodelle Reserve Pure Vanilla Extract
1/4 Teaspoon Rodelle Vanilla Paste
1 Cup Macadamia Nuts, Roughly Chopped

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line two baking sheets with silpats or parchment paper.

Melt the cocoa butter on low power in the microwave in 30-second bursts, stirring well at each interval until completely liquefied. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before proceeding, waiting until it’s just warm to the touch.

Cream together the vegan butter and sugar in your stand mixer, beating until light and fluffy. Sift together the flour, salt, baking powder and soda separately, and slowly incorporate the dry goods, alternating with the melted cocoa butter. Add the aquafaba and both vanilla extra and paste, finally followed by the nuts, mixing just until blended and lump-free.

Use a medium cookie scoop to portion about 3-tablespoons of dough per cookie onto your prepared baking sheets, placing them about 1 1/2 inches apart. Use lightly moistened hands to press them down slightly before sliding the pans into the oven.

Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, until puffed in the center, set around the edges, and just barely beginning to take on color on the bottom. Allow them to remain on the sheets until cool enough to handle. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week… If you can make them last that long!

Makes 15 – 18 Cookies

Printable Recipe

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25 thoughts on “Riches Beyond Your Wildest Beans

  1. My favorite holiday recipe is Chocolaty Crinkle Cookies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar. These were my favorite holiday cookie before I was vegan and I was so happy to find a recipe that veganized them.

  2. wow, these look amazing, i will have to try this recipe! I came here to tell you about my favorite holiday cookies and just realized they are the same as Heidi’s–the chocolate crinkle cookies from VCIYCJ. Everyone RAVES about them when i bring them to work, to parties and give them as gifts. of course I keep a bunch for myself too!

  3. Magic cookie bars were always a standard for us, but I only like them straight from the freezer :)

  4. I make a shortbread cookie with cranberries and pistachios for the holidays. I adore Rodelle’s vanilla paste. I use it in all my bake goods.

  5. When I was a kid, my mom would make sugar cookies in Chanukah shapes for us each year, but she’d often burn them. As adults, my brothers and I missed those burnt sugar cookies. So now my Mom mailes us each a box of them for our kids!

  6. My favorite cookie recipe was one off of the old Mirror Cookie Press recipe booklet that came with the press. It was Chocolate Pillows and it’s a Spritz cookie using the bar plate. It is squeezed out and then you put squares of chocolate on the line. After that you top it with a second layer as you mark them into squares. These are so good. The dough itself is just what a cookie should be… firm but tender and tasty.

  7. My favorite holiday cookies were the ones I grew up decorating with our family friends every Christmas. They were same plain white (sadly, non-vegan!) sugar cookies probably made from a mix or package, but we had so much fun decorating, cutting them into different shapes and fighting over who got the extra crispy ones. Will have to give these ones a try for this year!

  8. My favorite are oatmeal scotchies, but that has more to do with the butterscotch chips I eat before we make them!! We also make sugar cookie cutouts every year and let each kid decorate their own cookie to leave out for Santa.

  9. Oo, I’m interested in the cocoa butter in this recipe—great idea. As far as favorites, I can’t get enough of chewy gingersnaps this time of year!

  10. I’m a big fan of Pumpkin Chocolate Chip cookies! Chocolate Chip cookies are my favorite but this is a nice seasonal twist!

  11. Every Christmas Eve we make decorated sugar cookies – some years taste better than others :) but I always look forward to the tradition!

  12. Not a cookie, but I am now the keeper of the peanut butter fudge recipe. Everyone looks forward to it every year.

  13. I have a soft spot for the “Russian-Mexican-goes-by-lots-of-names tea cakes”. When I was growing up, I thought they were my Grandma’s secret recipe, something no one else had. :-) Even though I see they’re everywhere now, they’re still special to me.

  14. My family loves Chocolate chip dunkers. Biscotti like cookies baked in a 9×9 pan and then baked again like you would with a biscotti.

  15. Om nom nom – I want to stuff these into my mouth! :D I tend to try different recipes or variations thereof each year, and my “secret ingredient” is usually almond extract!

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