Vanilla Salt Cookies

vanilla_salt_cookies.jpg This entry is stolen… er, used under Creative Commons License from umami.com. I have made these cookies several times and love them ever so. They are my favorite cookies to make at Christmas, because they are easy and tasty and a bit more sophisticated than your average Christmas cookie. I have not made any alterations to the recipe because the license of the site does not allow for derivative works. And although, as a recipe, I could alter it and make it my own, it's a very good recipe without any change. Other than the salt on the top, as I have used fleur de sel instead of the pink Himalayan stuff.
These cookies were made using from the recipe for Vanilla Wafers in the "Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking". Instead of sugar crystals as suggested in the book, which I did not have on hand, I pressed some pink Himalayan salt crystals on the top just before baking. The salt accentuated the sweet vanila butteriness of the cookies, intriguing those who tasted with its familiar yet novel sensation. The recipe calls for one whole block of butter, and makes over 60 cookies. For a small household like mine it makes sense to freeze part of the dough. The ones above were from one of the frozen portions, slightly overbaked and crumbly, but still really rather scrumptious. Next time I might increase the quantity of flour. 250g butter 1/4 tsp salt (or if you are like me, omit this and use slightly salted butter) 125g sugar 2 large egg yolks 1 tbsp vanilla extract 315g plain flour Beat the butter, salt and sugar at medium speed untill smooth. Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat at low speed until blended. Add flour and mix until a dough forms. Divide dough into three or four equal portions. Roll each portion into logs about 1.5 inches in diameter. Wrap logs in plastic wrap and freeze or refridgerate till firm. Before baking, unwrap log and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. At this point you can op to sprinkle crystal sugar, crystal salt or chopped nuts on the surface. Bake at 180 C for 12-15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.

Edible.com: for things that (many would say) aren't

I ran across this little specialty food site today called Edible. When I write "specialty food", I seriously mean it. The items that caught my immediate interest were the Wild Black Vanilla Pod and the infamous Civet Coffee. The vanilla because the mind just overflows with the possibilities inherent in a wild version. The coffee because, well, it's kind of gross. Which leads me to the strength of Edible.com: the Insectivore Section. Oven baked tarantula, toffee scorpion candy, and Chocolate Covered Giant Ants are merely a representative selection of the sorts of critters that I am not currently interested in eating. I mean, none of those are local, so justifying the expense of shipping them just for the gourmet experience seems excessive in our current climate of ecological responsibility. My one real gripe, because if someone wants tasty tarantula, more power to them, is that, if you're going through the trouble of harvesting coffee from the solid waste of a civet or a weasel, then why would you pre-grind it? This is supposed to be a sublime gourmet experience, which is the only reason why you would take something that passed through the digestive tract of another creature (well, that and for medicinal purposes, I suppose. And for money). Why destroy the flavor by grinding it ahead of time. That's just stupid. I don't know if it's edible.com's fault, but I will not be ordering pre-ground civet coffee. Oh, and the Monkey-Picked Tea looks cool. In any case, it looks like their stock varies somewhat from time to time, and it's definitely the place to go if you need something for that extra-special dinner party, so check often for new and interesting experiences. via MonkeyFilter.

The Traveler's Lunchbox - Project Vanilla

Making your own vanilla extract appeals to me tremendously. I must do this.

The Traveler's Lunchbox - Project Vanilla: "There are probably easier ways to do it, where you just use a set ratio of beans to alcohol and let it sit until ready. The beauty of this method, however, is that a) aside from the very beginning, you're only sticking used beans in there (which feels delightfully frugal), b) your extract will continue to improve as you keep adding new beans, and c) once you get the ball rolling, as long as you keep using vanilla beans in your kitchen you'll have an unending supply of extract on hand too. Pretty nifty, no?"