Whole Bean Vanilla Cookies

Whole Bean Vanilla Cookies Recipe

I was pulling the sad remnant of a vanilla bean from a bag of sugar the other day, and it got me thinking about using whole vanilla beans. The entire pod. I'm sure this isn't a unique concept, but for whatever reason, it's not something I'd ever considered before. I started thinking it through a bit, and landed on the idea of pureeing a whole pod in a food processor to use in something. Perhaps adding some sugar to bulk it out the vanilla bean a bit. After a bit of experimenting, I landed on these little cookies. I love them! They are super simple to make - snappy, small, and fragrant, with a sloppy kiss of vanilla, and a right hook of salt to balance everything out. Any tiny pieces of vanilla bean that survived the processor are a bit like having vanilla-kissed flecks of raisins cut into the dough.

Whole Vanilla Bean CookiesWhole Vanilla Bean Cookies

I made the cookies with a blend of rye and all-purpose flours, but I suspect you could make them using either all-purpose flour, or whole wheat pastry flour without any trouble. And, as far as the vanilla bean goes, the key is starting with a good pod, one that is pliable and from a reputable source. I tested these with Nielson-Massey beans because I know many of you have access, and they seem to be widely distributed.

Whole Vanilla Bean CookiesWhole Vanilla Bean Cookies

Have you all come across other whole vanilla ideas/recipes? - I've held off googling.

Whole Vanilla Bean Cookies

What to look for in a vanilla bean - good source, pliable - the best beans I've ever purchased are plump, but not suspiciously plump.

1/2 cup+ / 2.5 oz /70 g powdered sugar
scant 1/4 cup / 1 1/2 oz / 45 g granulated sugar
1 pliable vanilla bean, cut into segments, ends trimmed if tough
1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt

8 tablespoons / 4 oz / 115 g unsalted butter, room temperature, cut into chunks


1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup / 2 oz / 55g rye flour
1/2 cup / 2.5 oz / 70 g all-purpose flour
a touch of sugar/salt for topping

Place the sugars in a food processor along with the vanilla bean segments. Pulse for a couple minutes, until the bean is really broken down, then pulse in the salt. Add the butter and vanilla extract and pulse until combined, check to be sure there aren't any big vanilla bean chunks, pulse a bit more if so, the butter should be creamy and light at this point. Add the flours and pulse until the dough comes together into a ball, 5 - 10 seconds.

Because this dough is on the sticky side, place it in the middle of a large piece of parchment paper, then cover it with a second piece of parchment paper. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4-inch thick. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes or until well chilled. Heat the oven at this point to 350F / 175C while the dough is chilling.

Stamp out cookies with a cookie cutter, and arrange an inch apart on parchment lined baking sheets. Sprinkle each cookie with bit of sugar, and a hint of salt if you like (be carefull not to use too much salt). Repeat with the remaining dough, which you can gather and roll out from the scraps. Chill (well) again in the fridge or freezer - particularly if your dough has warmed up. This will help prevent spreading. Bake in the top and bottom-thirds of the oven for 10 - 15 min, or until golden. Remove from the oven, let cool for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Makes about 2 dozen small cookies.

Prep time: 45 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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Comments

  • So sorry my comment posted 3 times :( Feel free to delete!

    DessertForTwo
  • I love it when you bake :) when I was 100% raw, I used to make a smoothie of a whole vanilla pod, frozen blueberries & ice. Delicious :)

    DessertForTwo
  • I love it when you bake :) When I was 100% raw, I used to make a smoothie out of a vanilla bean pod, fresh blueberries and water. Delightful!

    DessertForTwo
  • Never ever thought about using a the pod as well....but then again I tend to be more compliant with recipes and figure there must've been a reason not to use it....but I love your ingenuity! This is why you always have such imaginative cool recipes! Thanks. xoxo Cheri

    Cheri @ The Watering Mouth
  • I normally make a "low budget" vanilla sugar out of the bean - simply by blending it with sugar. And by the way, these cookies looks absolutely delicate :-)

    Mie
  • When I make vanilla ice cream I cook the pod with the mix, but then I fish it out at the end (I make a vegan ice cream that I heat- then cool). So... I guess I half use it.

    Dawn @cuter than gluten
  • I really like the idea of using the whole vanilla bean. I've recently ordered a big bag of them and add them to anything and everything...elderfower syrup, coconut ice cream. I will give these cookies a try as well. And making my own vanilla extract!

    Maja
  • everything 's perfect! photo, mood, cookie, object thank you fort your grace, i can smell the cookie flavour

    TARTESANDCARO
  • Ooooh these look amazing. I have a little free holiday time this week, and this might be a perfect experiment!

    aisling
  • I hadn't given much thought to using the whole vanilla pod before but what a wonderful idea. These cookies sound like they have such a heady fragrance of vanilla, just gorgeous.

    Kathryn
  • Wow! I love how small, thin, and almost cracker-like these look. I'm thinking these could be made into a sandwich cookie, but what to fill them with...

    Susan
  • This is so clever! Love it.

    Siri
  • Love the look of the cookies, rough with rye yet thin and delicate at the same time. Also love not letting the vanilla pod going to waste!

    leaf (the indolent cook)
  • I guess adding a whole vanilla bean to the sunflower seed butter you posted a while ago would be really delicious. I love vanilla when it takes center stage, it can feel a bit boring though when it is just thrown into anything that is sweet.

    Lena
  • Hello Heidi, I love vanilla pods but always felt bad for just using the beans, and let's face it: vanilla sugar made with the empty pods is not that vanilla-y anyway. So, I kept them all in a jar and when I finished the last one, pureed them in the food processor with some clear, good-quality vodka. Just a bit, to thin it out. There are still some larger strands but it's easy to pick them out of the mixing bowl, and the flavour is amazing!

    Roberta @ Fish, chips & gelato
  • Hello Heidi, I love vanilla pods but always felt bad for just using the beans, and let's face it: vanilla sugar made with the empty pods is not that vanilla-y anyway. So, I kept them all in a jar and when I finished the last one, pureed them in the food processor with some clear, good-quality vodka. Just a bit, to thin it out. There are still some larger strands but it's easy to pick them out of the mixing bowl, and the flavour is amazing!

    Roberta @ Fish, chips & gelato
  • This is crazy - I just posted about whole vanilla beans 3 minutes ago and your post just popped up in my reader, and you made these cookies. I want them! I adore vanilla. I make my own vanilla extract and make vanilla cookies, sugar, love vanilla candles...pretty much my fave scent ever. Love these cookies and great way to use the whole pod. I never know what to do with them and feel bad about tossing them so I have a pod graveyard in a ziplock baggie... lol

    Averie @ Averie Cooks
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