Who knew love could be so tasty?

So do you remember when I teased you with that bottle of vanilla bean paste but didn’t tell you what I had planned for it? Well I finally made my secret treats and they were fabulous!

I was initially inspired by this recipe I found on Tastespotting. Then, a day or so later, I came across this and thought, THIS IS IT! I just loved the look of the frosted cookie and thought the x and o would stand out a lot better on that background. Plus, I was completely in love with the idea of a vanilla sugar cookie and extremely obsessed with getting a bottle of that amazing vanilla bean paste.

And that is why I went on a mad dash to track down a bottle of this stuff. After figuring it would be cheaper to just trek to the store to pick it up [after accounting for shipping and wait times], I went off to Williams-Sonoma to pick up a bottle, only to find it was closed for inventory! I was sad, dejected, upset because I was convinced I’d have to make yet another trip the next day to buy it but then I stumbled upon Sur La Table just around the block, who saved the day and my gifts.

I used Bridget’s recipe and decorated it like I saw in Meaghan’s original blog post for my Valentine’s gifts this year to the bf, my sisters, and my nieces and nephew. I was super excited to make these and now I’m super excited to make them again. And in case you were wondering, this dough freezes really well. I made one batch and baked up a dozen or so for the bf, cut the rest out, and then froze them until I needed to bake another batch right before Valentine’s Day. It did take longer to bake them straight out the freezer but the frozen baked cookies tasted just as delicious as the fresh baked ones so don’t hesitate to make and freeze for a later day!

This is seriously all the ingredients you need for this. No, really. I looked over the recipe a couple of times to make sure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

This is why I am so in love with vanilla bean paste: you see those little black flecks? That is the vanilla bean. Get a bottle of this stuff; it’s a lot more cost effective than buying vanilla beans. Sure I spent $11 for a 4 oz bottle but compare that to almost $3 for 2 beans at Cost Plus – where I would have used probably one whole bean for this recipe. See, math CAN be fun.

The finished cookie, fresh out the oven. I’m also a huge fan of parchment paper now because I no longer have to sacrifice a cookie to the cookie pan. If you’re still on the fence about buying a silpat [or don’t know what one is], definitely use parchment paper whenever possible.

This was my first attempt at lining and flooding with royal icing. I love how easy it was and am already thinking of other ways I can decorate cookies. This has really opened up the possibilities! And see! More vanilla bean flecks! And the final product? Delicious AND cute. And utterly addictive. Just ask Lindsey, who nearly finished a dozen in less than a day.

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
via Bridget at Bake at 350

3 c unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks butter
1 egg
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (Bridget’s original recipe calls for 1/2 tsp of pure vanilla extract and 1/2 pure almond extract)

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. Cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix.

Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on parchment lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.

Royal Icing*
via Meaghan at The Decorated Cookie

4 tblsp meringue powder
1/2 cup water
6-7 cups confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 cup Crisco

Whip the meringue powder and water on high speed for a looooong time, several minutes, until it’s fluffy and peaks form.

Gradually add the rest of the ingredients to desired consistency.

Store at room temperature in a sealed container for up to a month.

*I halved the royal icing recipe and that was enough for roughly 5 dozen of these cookies with leftovers.

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