People cultivate vanilla in many parts of the world, but my favorite vanilla comes from Mexico. Vanilla is actually a member of the orchid family, and has been grown in eastern Mexico – where it was first cultivated – for hundreds of years.
If you’ve never worked with a vanilla bean before, don’t be afraid. Simply place your bean on a cutting board and split the bean in two lengthwise – I use a small chef’s knife for both the splitting and the scraping. Flatten out the halves so the inside of the bean faces up, then scrape your knife down each of the insides to get the seeds, which will look like a black paste.
This recipe is adapted from two different ones from Martha Stewart’s Cookies, a book I’ve used many times with great success. I ended up with an extra half-cup of filling, so next time I might pare down my filling recipe to make less.
Vanilla Bean Cookies
- 1 3/4 cups flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups sugar
- 1 egg
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 vanilla bean, halved and scraped
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and kosher salt; set aside.
In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
Add egg, vanilla extract, and vanilla seeds and beat on medium speed until smooth.
With the mixer running on low, gradually add flour mixture.
Using a 1-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 8-12 minutes, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until tops are very light golden and just set.
Cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer on the parchment to wire racks to cool completely before filling.
Vanilla Cream Filling
- 8 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and shortening.
Add powdered sugar in small batches, beating until combined. Once all sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for two minutes
Add vanilla and beat to combine.
Using a one-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of filling onto half of the cookies. Spread filling to the edges, then top with another cookie.
Makes 18 sandwiches.