Wednesday, 20 March 2013

2008 - That Darned Dough

Darn that dough! The Vanilla-Bean Butter Cookies dough, to be specific. 

I loved it yesterday (Dec. 15), when I made it. It was light and creamy and flecked with ebony vanilla seeds. A sight to behold! After I added the flour, it was a bit crumbly, like shortbread. I had to pull it together and shape it into disks, which went into the fridge overnight. 

When I rolled it out today, though, it kept cracking or sticking. Cracking because it was too cold; and sticking as I put pressure on it. Once rolled out into a rectangle, it needs to be put in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting. Then the cutouts would stick to the cutter, or break when I tried to poke them out. 

What's worse — I used a snowflake cutter. Even after religiously dipping it in flour, I still wound up prying loose each little delicate snowflake arm with the blunt end of a wooden skewer. I don't know why I didn't just use a star, as the recipe suggests. Or a round biscuit cutter! Mom suggested rolling the dough into logs and slicing the cookies (since they lose their shape anyway). I might give that a try.  

Vanilla-Bean cookies take forever too because they have to go back into the freezer again for 10 to 20 minutes after being cut out. It took practically all day to make four dozen. 

After all that, the dough spread in the oven (despite going in the freezer again before baking) and the snowflakes wound up looking like swollen, puffy flowers.

But ... they were absolutely delicious! So tender and buttery and perfect tasting. They practically melt in your mouth, so I was ready for another one immediately. I will be making them again, despite my complaints. I'm sure they will go faster and look better with practice and a few tweaks. But their taste needs no improvement whatsoever.

Vanilla-Bean Butter Cookies
1 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
3 vanilla beans, split lengthwise
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla
2  1/2 c flour, sifted
1/4 tsp salt
colored dragées
sanding sugar

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine butter and sugar. Scrape in vanilla seeds. Beat on high until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Add egg and vanilla; beat to combine.

Add flour and salt, beat on low till incorporated.

Divide dough into half; flatten into disks. Wrap in plastic and chill at least 1 hour or overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. On lightly floured surface, roll out disks to 1/4-inch thickness. Place dough on separate baking sheets and chill in freezer for 20 minutes.

Line baking sheets with parchment. Using 2-inch star-shaped cutter, cut out stars. Place a dragée in center of each star; sprinkle generously with sanding sugar. Freeze until firm, 10 to 20 minutes.

Bake until golden, rotating sheets halfway through, 18 to 22 minutes. Transfer to wire racks to cool completely. 

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