This recipe for vanilla bean angel pillows is from The Better Homes and Gardens Very Merry Cookies cookbook.
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I decided to make Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows. First, I liked the name. Second, they included vanilla beans, and I thought that would make them a little more special than cookies with vanilla extract.
Since I live at high altitude, baking can sometimes be challenging. Most cookie recipes work well enough without any adjustments, with the biggest problem being that some cookies spread a little more than they would at sea level. That’s another reason the angel pillows looked promising. They weren’t flat cookies to begin with.
The cookie dough is made in the food processor and takes almost no time to come together. And no work. Add some stuff, process. Add some more stuff, process. That’s it; you’re done mixing.
The vanilla sugar that coats the cookies takes a bit more forethought, though. It takes a week before it’s ready. No problem for me, since I always have some on hand. I’ve also seen vanilla sugar for sale, or you could use regular sugar. I wouldn’t tell anyone.
The cookies came out of my oven a little flatter than the photo in the book, but still nicely mounded instead of pancake flat. The texture is that crisp-crumbly-meltiness, where you bite into the cookie and it sort of dissolves into nothing. And they seem very light and delicate possibly because of the cornstarch.
Overall, I’m rating these a success, with bonus points for using vanilla beans, and an extra ‘like’ for being easy. On the other hand, despite having these cookies readily available, I haven’t seen any sleepy angels in the vicinity.
We hope you enjoy these vanilla bean angel pillows!
Vanilla Bean Angel Pillows
Featured Recipe From: Better Homes & Gardens Very Merry Cookies
Yield: Makes 28 cookies
Prep Time: 30 Minutes
Cook Time: 24 Minutes
Total Time: 54 Minutes
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise
- 1 cup cold butter, cubed
- 1/4 cup Vanilla Sugar
Preheat oven to 350°F. In a food processor combine flour, powdered sugar, cornstarch, and salt. Cover and process until mixed.
Using the tip of a sharp knife, scrape pulp from the vanilla bean. Add vanilla pulp and butter to the flour mixture. Cover and process with several on-off pulses until dough starts to cling together. Gather dough into a ball.
Shape dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place balls 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake about 12 minutes or just until edges start to brown. Transfer cookies to a wire rack; let cool for 5 minutes. Place Vanilla Sugar in a small bowl. Roll warm cookies in Vanilla Sugar to coat. Cool completely on wire rack. Makes about 28 cookies.
Vanilla Sugar: In a small bowl combine 1 cup sugar and 1 vanilla bean, split in half lengthwise. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week.
To Make Ahead and Store: Layer cookies between sheets of waxed paper in an airtight container; cover. Store at room temperature for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
Using Vanilla Beans
Using dried vanilla bean rather than liquid vanilla extract may require an extra step or two, but your cookies will gain heightened vanilla flavor, as well as beautiful confetti-like flecks. To use a vanilla bean, cut the pod lengthwise with a paring knife and use the tip of the knife to scrape out the tiny seeds.
The pod itself should not be eaten. Instead, use it to make vanilla sugar to keep on hand for recipes or for flavoring coffee. To make vanilla sugar, simply place the split pod in a small bowl with 1 cup granulated sugar. Cover and let stand at room temperature for 1 week.
Find vanilla beans at specialty spice stores and online sources. Store vanilla beans in a closed (but not airtight) container in a cool, dark, and dry place. Do not refrigerate or freeze.
© 2011 Meredith Corporation
Reprinted with permission from Better Homes & Gardens Very Merry Cookies (John Wiley & Sons Inc.)