Vanilla Butter Cookies

I’ll admit, these are not my usual cookie.  Crisp and sandy are not the adjectives that pull me into a cookie recipe.  That being said–I’m glad I stepped out of my cookie-box.  These cookies are not only easy to make but also delicious.  Rich, buttery, and the slather of chocolate over the side makes these a cookie I can see me adding to my regular rotation.


I mixed these up after dinner the other night when the boy wasn’t quite ready to give up on the kitchen for the evening.  There are just a few ingredients (and no eggs!!) that were almost all already in my baking drawer within easy reach.

After an easy “cream the butter and sugars, then add the dry” type construction, these cookies are balled up and rolled in sugar–which is one of my favorite steps to have kids help out on.


After placing the sugar-rolled cookies on the sheet pan, you need to smoosh them a little.  The KAF website suggested the plunger of a food processor since it had a nice concentric design.  Mine was within reach, so why not?  You could easily use a drinking glass or, if you are a fancy, you could use a cookie stamp.  (hint hint to my husband…wouldn’t these make a great Christmas present for me??)

These didn’t spread much during cooking but don’t crowd the pan since they do need a little room.  While they are still warm, you’ll need to melt the chocolate chips with a splash of vegetable oil.  I do mine in the microwave in 20 second increments, stirring well in between.  The residual heat will melt the last of the chunky chips, so just keep stirring!

Dip the top of one side into the chocolate and put it back on the parchment to harden.  The chocolate on mine stayed a little gooey, so I stashed mine in the fridge between layers of parchment.  I’d like to say putting them in the fridge also kept them out of sight, out of mind but not so much because they are DELICIOUS cold.  If you need them to cool more quickly, you can try singing to them as my son did.  I don’t think it helped as much as the fridge though.


Vanilla Dreams

3 teaspoons vanilla extract (I used vanilla paste)

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

3/4 teaspoon salt

1 1/4 cups sugar

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups AP flour

coarse or granulated sugar for rolling

1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

2 tablespoons vegetable oil


Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cream the butter and sugar together until fluffy.  Add the dry ingredients in two parts, scraping the bowl down between additions.  Use a small disher to portion the dough, then roll in the sugar and place on the prepared baking dishes.  Press slightly to flatten with a cookie stamp, drinking glass, or the plunger of your food processor.  Bake for 20 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through.

Mix the chocolate chips with 1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons of vegetable oil.  Heat in the microwave in 15-20 second increments, stirring thoroughly to fully melt.  Dip the cookies into the melted chocolate so half of the top of the cookie is covered.  It is less messy if you manage to keep the bottom of the cookies clean.  Leave to cool on parchment or put directly into the fridge.

Makes 36-40 cookies.



Rainbow Cake–A food color review.

My son loves rainbows–in the sky, in My Little Pony form, but most of all in cake form.

He has asked me for a rainbow cake for a long time now.  I thought I had it covered when I made him a chocolate cake with rainbow frosting but, apparently, that wasn’t enough.  The other day, he asked again and I folded like a lawn chair.  Ok, kid.  We will make a real rainbow cake. I’ll even try to not complain about dirtying six bowls and spoon mixing all the colors.

I used the Vanilla Cake recipe from Cake Simple.  I changed it in a few ways to suit what I had on hand (why were all my vanilla beans so dry and sad??) so, despite this cake being seriously delicious, I want to make the recipe again before really going into the details.

Instead, I want to talk about the amazingness of these food colors I tried out.  They were just ok in the bowl while I mixed them up; the colors were solid but I still expected them to fade significantly while they baked.  The top layer of the cake was purple, so I couldn’t tell what the outcome was until I unmolded the bundt.

WHAT THE WHAT?  All hail Ateco gel food color, bringer of rainbows!  These colors were amazing! Red is always a problematic color and, even though I could have added a little more to the batter, this was leaps and bounds above any other color I’ve ever used.

I’m a convert.  Rainbow cakes forever.  Ateco food colors forever.  If you are the type that likes fun colored food, I cannot recommend these enough.

Gluten Free Yellow Cake


Vanilla cake. So misunderstood. I know a lot of people who view yellow cake as simply a vehicle for frosting but it is so much more! It actually can have flavor on its own–a perfect light buttery vanilla.

This year, I volunteered to make a gluten free yellow cake (“with chocolate frosting!!”) for my Nephew’s birthday. I started with this GF Yellow Cake recipe from King Arthur Flour but wanted to make a really intense vanilla butter cake to hold up to the requested chocolate frosting. I pulled out one of my favorite ingredients–vanilla paste which is a sugary syrup with vanilla bean (seeds? insides? gunk?) stuff suspended in it. If you haven’t tried it, and you are into that vanilla seed look to your baked goods, it is well worth a try.


The batter came together easily and was nice and fluffy in the pan. I was afraid this would lead to a fragile cake but I was past the point of no return. Though I do admit to making backup box-cake mix plans.


Gluten free cake can often be dry and crumbly and, sadly, I found this cake to hold true to that. It was delicious the first day but didn’t have any shelf life at all. I wish I had waited until the day of the party to bake the cakes so they didn’t sit overnight. Lesson learned.


This cake didn’t last long in terms of shelf life but it did delivery really fantastic flavor. It was also dense enough to allow me to slice the two cakes into layers to make a 4 layer cake. Frosting was also easy since the cake held together and didn’t create a gazillion crumbs to muck up the frosting.


Gluten Free Vanilla Butter Cake
(best eaten the day it is baked!)

3 cups King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-Purpose Flour
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 tablespoons soft butter
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon vanilla paste (eyeball this as the paste is SUPER sticky)
4 large eggs
1 cup milk, at room temperature

Preheat your oven to 350.

Combine the flour and xantham gum in a large bowl, set aside.

In the bowl of your stand mixer, beat the sugar, soft butter, salt, baking powder, and vanilla paste until smooth. Beat in the eggs, which will fluff up the batter. Then alternate milk and flour additions to the batter. Prepare 2 9-inch cake pans with parchment paper and cooking spray. Divide your batter into the pans. Bake 25 minutes or until a cake tester comes out clean.