Blog Vanilla Bean Cookies

Blog Vanilla Bean Cookies

It's so easy, in the days before Christmas, to get caught up in the rush of decorating and gift-buying and forget the simple, yet important, meaning of the holiday. Likewise, there are certain ingredients used in baking that are so basic and elemental we take them for granted, and forget just how valuable (in a real, not just monetary, sense) they are. I'm thinking of vanilla. We put it in just about everything without a second thought, and even tend to think of it as a bit "boring." But the next time you add it to a recipe, take a sniff—its aroma, at once delicate and intoxicating, will remind you why vanilla is so essential.

Vanilla comes from the pod of an orchid native to Mexico, and now grown throughout the tropics. The orchids must be pollinated by a certain species of bee, or hand pollinated, in order to produce seed pods. The pods are cured after harvesting, in order to develop the flavor—the whole process is both time- and labor-intensive, which is why vanilla costs so much. It deserves to take center stage, as it does in the easy, flavorful cookie recipe below.

If you love to cook and bake, as I do, you might just have some vanilla beans in your pantry, bought with the intention of doing "something special" with them. Well, there's no time like the present—try this recipe. And please take a moment for yourself, to sit, relax, and enjoy the spirit of the holidays. Have a very merry Christmas.

My favorite shapes for Vanilla Bean Cookies include the Santa cookie cutter, the Sleigh cookie cutter, the Reindeer cookie cutter, and the Tree cookie cutter.