Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

I love a good sugar cookie. And in my opinion, a sugar cookie should be a little soft with a little crisp, not too thick, and definitely not doughy.

About thirteen years ago, when I was a teenager, some neighbors brought the most delicious sugar cookies to us for Valentine’s Day. They were perfect. After we ate the whole plate, my mom got rid of her old recipe, and we quickly asked for our neighbor’s recipe.

I’m so glad they obliged. They have been a part of every holiday since.

To shake things up a bit, my daughter and I decided that we would use the “banilla” beans we recently bought at Penzey’s instead of extract. My little girl loves it when I slice the bean lengthwise and scrape out the seeds. She loves to smell the sweet fragrance–which she always says smells like ice cream and “wosting” (frosting).

Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies with Buttercream Frosting

Ingredients:

For sugar cookies:
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) butter
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp. extract)
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt

For frosting:
1-2 sticks salted butter (depending on how yummy you want it to be)
1 Tbsp. cream cheese
3-4 cups powdered sugar
1/4 cup half-and-half
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/8 tsp. almond extract (optional)
food coloring (optional)

Instructions:  

For sugar cookies:
Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each one.

For vanilla bean:
Cut the vanilla bean in half lengthwise and lay it open on a flat surface. Scrape the inside of each half with the blade of a knife and add to the creamed mixture. Beat well to disperse the seeds.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

Add the flour in 4 additions, mixing well after each addition. Chill the dough for 3 hours or
overnight.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Sprinkle a generous amount of flour over a clean, flat surface.


Roll dough to desired thickness–

For thin, crispy cookies, roll to 1/8″ thick.

For thicker, softer cookies, roll about 1/4″ thick (or thicker).


Cut cookies into shapes with cookie cutters and place on an ungreased baking sheet.

Bake the thinner cookies for less than 5 minutes; thicker cookies can bake for 6-8 minutes. In either case, the cookies should be barely golden and the tops will be dry.

Let cookies cool completely and decorate.

This is my “little chef” that loves to help out in the kitchen. The look on her face was priceless. She was saying, “Wow! These are really GOOD!” As if she ever needed to doubt me….

I like a nice, creamy, rich icing for my sugar cookies. A traditional powdered sugar/butter combo is perfect for these.

For Buttercream Frosting:
Beat butter and cream cheese. Add powdered sugar alternately with half-and-half. (You may not need all the half-and-half.) Add the extracts. Tint the frosting to the desired shade.



I like to use Wilton gel colors to tint frosting. It doesn’t thin out the frosting and you can get some really awesome, vibrant shades.

Use a toothpick to get a small amount of the gel from the jar.


If you use too much….well, then you end up with this! Not exactly what I was going for, but my little girl was absolutely delighted at the technicolor icing. See how vibrant they can be!

Decorate your cookies.

Enjoy.

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