Saturday, June 22, 2024

American Cookie #4: {1886 Vanilla Wafers}

Each week, I'm going to be highlighting a new American Cookie and sharing its history, as well as my results. This is the fourth week of baking with American Cookie by Anne Byrn, and I'm sharing 1886 Vanilla Wafers, which actually originated in 1851!

The History of Vanilla Wafers: The origin of the Vanilla Wafer dates all the way back to 1851 with a Pennsylvania Dutch cookbook called Die Geschickte Hausfrau, The Handy Housewife. What's the most interesting about the Vanilla Wafer is that not long before the Pennsylvania Dutch shared the recipe, a Boston pharmacist named Joseph Burnett bottled the first vanilla extract for a customer who had sampled vanilla desserts while traveling in Paris! So the history of the Vanilla Wafer actually coincides with the history of vanilla extract here in America, how fascinating! In addition to the history of vanilla extract, this cookie also predates baking powder because baking soda and cream of tartar (which are both used in this recipe) are both early leaveners, predating baking powder. These leaveners produce crisp and light cookies, characteristic of wafers.

My Results: These cookies smell intoxicating! This recipe calls for one whole tablespoon of vanilla and right off the bat the aroma of the vanilla in the cookie dough is irresistible. When the cookies come out of the oven at first they are soft and tender, tasting somewhat like a vanilla cake cookie. As the cookies cool they become a slightly crisp. We enjoyed them both ways! I would love to make these again and use them to make a from scratch banana pudding. For now we enjoyed them as is, but we also enjoyed them with some vanilla and strawberry ice cream sandwiched between them. 

It is crucial for the dough to chill (I chilled mine in the freezer for at least an hour). My first tray of cookies baked for 8 minutes total, then I decided I wanted them to be a little more golden and I baked them for 10 minutes total. If you want to use them in a banana pudding or another layered dessert then I think you'd need to bake them 10 minutes because you'd want them to be more on the crisp side. However, if you want to eat them a little more on the soft side, opt for about 8 minutes total.

Notes on the recipes in American Cookie: After making my fourth cookie from American Cookie, one thing I can say is that this cookbook produces some of the most perfect cookies I've ever made (and I've made a lot of cookies)! I think it has something to do with the chilling process. Most of these recipes call for the cookie dough to chill for several hours or overnight and I believe this makes all the difference, so I'll be doing that with all cookie dough recipes going forward for here on out! Also, I think it wise to bake your cookies are parchment paper. Sure, the parchment keeps the cookies from sticking, but the parchment also seems to protect the bottom of the cookie and keep it from becoming too dark or overdone. Beyond those two tips, this cookbook really does produce some of the most perfect cookies I've ever made and I highly recommend it!

My Rating: 4 out of 5! We really liked these cookies and will make them again so we can enjoy a homemade banana pudding!

I'm going to be rating all the cookies with the five-star format, one star being the lowest rating and five-star being the highest.

1886 Vanilla Wafers

Adapted from American Cookie

by Anne Bryn

Makes 4 to 5 dozen

10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

1 teaspoon cream of tartar

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons milk

 Place the soft butter and sugar in a large mixing bowl and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until creamy, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until well combined, 30 seconds.

Whisk together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Alternately add the flour mixture to the butter and sugar mixture with the milk, beginning and ending with the flour mixture. Beat on low speed until just combined.

Tear off an 18" sheet of waxed paper or parchment paper. Spoon the batter into a log on the paper and roll the paper up around it to secure. Place the log of dough in the refrigerator for at least 2 to 3 hours and up to overnight, or freeze for 1 hour.

When ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375F.

Unwrap the dough and slice into 1/4" rounds. Place them 1" to 2" apart on an ungreased baking sheet, and place the pan in the oven.

Bake the cookies until lightly browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies to a rack to cool. Repeat with remaining dough. Store in a covered container for up to 10 days.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks so much for taking the time to leave a comment! At the moment I am having a huge problem with spam so I've had to add comment moderation and close off comments to anonymous users. I apologize for the trouble and hope to return my comments to normal shortly.