Sugar cookies are very simple cookies and I like to think of them as a blank canvas. Because the ingredients in the cookies are very simple – and the finished cookies typically have a mild flavor of just vanilla, sugar and butter – they’re a great canvas for other flavors. Cardamom, for instance, can make a plain sugar cookie a little more exotic. For these Double Vanilla Sugar Cookies, I decided to enhance one of the flavors that is already present in most sugar cookies by doubling up on one of my very favorite ingredients: vanilla.
These cookies include a lot of vanilla extract right in the cookie dough, but they’re rolled in vanilla sugar before baking. Vanilla sugar is simply sugar that has been infused with vanilla. I often make my own by storing used vanilla beans with sugar (for long periods of time), but there are some places that make vanilla sugar, which you can also use. The vanilla sugar adds an extra layer of vanilla to these cookies and ensures that you will get the wonderful flavor of vanilla in every bite. My homemade vanilla sugar includes flecks of vanilla bean, which gives the cookies a nice look after they’ve been rolled. This coating of sugar adds a very subtle crunch to the exterior of the cookies, too.
These cookies are chewy and tender, a classic sugar cookie in texture. Baking time is important for these cookies because they can dry out easily if overbaked. For best results, take them out of the oven just as they start to turn a light gold around the edges. If you prefer a slightly crisper cookie, bake them for an extra two or three minutes, but don’t let the cookies brown too much. They keep very well and stay just a bit chewy even after storing them for a couple of days as long as you keep them in an airtight container.
Double Vanilla Sugar Cookies
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1 tbsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup vanilla sugar, for finishing
Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs and vanilla extract until well combined.
With the mixer on low speed, gradually incorporate the flour mixture until the dough comes together and no streaks of dry ingredients remain.
Pour vanilla sugar into a shallow bowl or small dish. Shape dough into 1-inch balls (dough will be a bit sticky) and roll in vanilla sugar. Place sugar-coated dough onto prepared baking sheet.
Bake for 11-13 minutes, until cookies are set and very light golden around the edges.
Allow to cool for 3-4 minutes on baking sheets, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen.