Monday, September 29, 2014

Baking Class: Homemade Vanilla Wafers

I haven't been baking much lately, but the weather is cooling and I've been feeling the urge.  We had our first company lunch after a summer hiatus this week and I decided to make dessert.

I had been looking at a recipe for homemade vanilla wafers for quite a while and this seemed the perfect time to try it.  The last time I decided to buy Vanilla Wafers at the store I took one look at the ingredients and put the box right back on the shelf.

I have always had a love/hate relationship with this humble little cookie.  When I was a child, it was pretty much the only sweet thing we had in the house on a regular basis that I liked.  Note that I did not love them.  But if I wanted something sweet, it was vanilla wafers or nothing.  So I ate them.

And I think I've written before about the time I was eating them for an afternoon snack and my great-aunt was sitting at the table with me and asked me if I wouldn't rather have moon cookies.  I asked what they were and she said she would only tell me what they were if I said yes.  So I said yes. And she immediately the cookies up from plate and took a half bite out of each and every one of them and laid them back down on my plate and smiled smugly at me.

And as usual, I knew there was some lesson I was supposed to be learning from that, but the only one I learned was to never trust my great-aunt again.  (Further incidents only served to cement this lesson, I am sorry to say.)

Having had so much success with my homemade graham crackers, I wondered if the difference between homemade and store-bought vanilla wafers would be just as striking.

And it was.  These are warm gems of vanilla sweetness with none of the chemical aftertaste I have always noticed in the store bought variety.  And they are easy to throw together.  I actually made the dough the night before I baked them, so it was a total of about half an hour each night, and they could be kept in the refrigerator for a few days before baking if necessary.

I used whole wheat pastry flour instead of all-purpose flour here.  I have always thought of vanilla wafers as one of the healthier options in the cookie world.  Whole wheat pastry flour makes it even more healthy without compromising the flavor, in my humble opinion.  If you try it I'm sure you will agree.
Home Cooking 8.59 Chapter: Baked Goods (Sweet/Savory)
Makes 4 dozen cookies

1/3 cup unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 tsp baking powder

Combine the butter, sugar, egg, milk and vanilla in a medium mixing bowl and use a hand mixer on medium high to cream the ingredients together. Add the flour and mix well. The result will be somewhat wet and sticky. Chill for at least half an hour or up to 3 days.

Preheat oven to 400° and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roughly form the dough into small round balls about an inch in diameter and place them on the parchment paper-lined baking sheets. Bake at 400° for 8-10 minutes, until golden brown.

from Penzeys Holiday 2013 catalog
exported from Home Cookin 8.59 (

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