Vanilla Bean Cookies

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These delicious, easy-to-make vanilla bean cookies are flavored with vanilla bean seeds inside and out.

vanilla bean cookies

I have often wondered who came up with the idea to associate vanilla with plain. That’s a really puzzling concept because there is nothing plain about vanilla seeds; their unique flavor and aroma is about as complex as it gets and is the result of a combination of several hundred different chemical compounds. And it is, of course, delicious. I mean, who doesn’t like vanilla?

Now, when I use vanilla I generally reach for the bottle of extract but to add some sophistication (in the form of visible black flecks of vanilla seeds) to these Christmas cookies here I scraped the seeds of out of an actual vanilla pod and added them to both the dough and the glaze. Both components are simple but very flavorful and overall make a very delicate and buttery, crispy vanilla bean cookie.

I made the glaze from powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and heavy cream. Cream is great for a glaze because it results in a thick, velvety texture that more or less automatically forms a bit of a pattern when you spread it on with the back of a small spoon. That’s my way of decorating a cookie artfully because I’m not really much use with a piping bag!

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vanilla bean cookies
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Vanilla Bean Cookies

These delicious, easy-to-make vanilla bean cookies are flavored with vanilla bean seeds inside and out.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Chill Time30 mins
Total Time55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: vanilla bean cookies
Servings: 14 cookies
Calories: 126kcal
Author: Nicole Branan | The Spice Train

Ingredients:

For the cookies:

  • 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1.5 inches vanilla bean
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar

For the icing:

  • 1 inch vanilla bean
  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  • 1-4 tablespoons heavy cream

Instructions:

For the cookies:

  • Whisk flour and salt together in a bowl. Set aside.
  • Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean piece.
  • Beat butter and sugar until well combined and creamy.
  • Beat in the vanilla seeds.
  • Beat in the dry ingredients.
  • Bring the dough together into a ball by hand, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  • Roll out the dough and cut out the cookies. (After the first round of cutting out the cookies, you can gather the scraps and roll them out again).
  • Bake the cookies on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper until they are lightly browned (12 – 15 minutes).
  • Let the cookies cool.

For the icing:

  • Scrape the seeds out of the vanilla bean.
  • Whisk powdered sugar, vanilla seeds and heavy cream together. Start with 1 tablespoon of cream, then add more until you have a spreadable but not runny consistency.
  • Spoon the icing onto the cookies and let it dry.

Nutrition

Calories: 126kcal

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vanilla bean cookies

22 comments

  1. Kevin | Keviniscooking says:

    Poor vanilla has been put down for so long and it’s a superb flavor, nothing plain about it. I put beans in my sugar container even, love it! I did recently pick up some vanilla paste and WOW, one must use that sparingly… powerful stuff! These and the masterful photos are just exceptional. I mean look at all that texture with all that white – you always inspire me.

    • Nicole B. says:

      You are so nice to say that, Kevin, thank you! It can definitely be tricky to photograph white but I too liked how this one came out. :) I love vanilla and I’ve read that some chefs use it in savory dishes as well, like with fish. I’ve always wanted to try that, I can’t really imagine it. :)

  2. Sandra @ Heavenly Home Cooking says:

    Beautiful shot and beautiful cookies! I love how you decorated them with the icing. I probably would have fiddled with the pastry bag, but your way is so much easier! I agree that the wrinkled fabric adds to the photo. Thanks for the photography tips that you offer!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you, Sandra! Yeah, I can pipe a dollop of frosting onto a cupcake but for anything that requires a smaller nozzle than that I’m out. :) So glad you like the photography notes. :)

  3. traci | vanilla and bean says:

    I couldn’t agree more, Nicole… vanilla is so much more than regular or plain. It is by far my most favorite of all … because of it’s richness, depth and as you said, complex flavor. Have you tried vanilla Bean Paste? These cookies are delicious and beautifully presented. I love the soft white contrast with the pretty blue plate. And one can never go wrong with a simple shortbread dough with vanilla bean.. my favorite cookie this time of year. Thank you my dear!

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Traci! I haven’t tried vanilla bean paste, it sounds delicious and very convenient, have to look into that. :)

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Fida. Simple and elegant is the best combination, isn’t it? It’s sometimes difficult to make it happen though. :)

  4. Bam's Kitchen says:

    Beautiful Nicole. Elegant and delicious. I love how the icing forms a natural design on the cookies. As a matter of fact, I have cookie making on the list of things to do this week and will have to give your recipe a try. Happy Holidays to you!

  5. Louise | Cygnet Kitchen says:

    Love these gorgeous little cookies Nicole! I agree, vanilla is wonderful! I buy Madagascan vanilla pods in bulk from Costco, as I use them so much. I stuff any used pods in a jar of caster sugar so that I always have vanilla sugar! x

    • Nicole B. says:

      I should look for vanilla pods at Costco, what a great idea! (And I didn’t know you had Costco in Britain!) I didn’t think to stuff the used pods into a jar of sugar either, will definitely do that next time! :)

  6. Marisa Franca @ All Our Way says:

    Your cookies look amazingly good. I like the pattern that the glaze made — much easier than painting on the finish. And I love vanilla beans!! They make such a difference in the flavor. I usually take the empty pod and put it in my sugar canister The vanilla flavors the sugar with a light flavor. Your photos are wonderful — for the cookies I love the light, bright touch — as if someone just entered a kitchen and you’re now ready to sit down and visit.

    • Nicole B. says:

      Thank you so much, Marisa, as always I really appreciate your kind words! Using the used pod to flavor sugar is such a great idea (which didn’t occur to me, I just put it in the compost bin…will know better next time!)

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