Wednesday, February 12, 2014

52WoC Week 5: Vanilla - Nilla Wafers

As a kid, I remember helping my mother make cookies and besides eating the dough I had two favorite things: eating raw flour1 and smelling vanilla extract. Then one day I decided to taste what I assumed was ambrosia, only to be betrayed by that amber bottle. This was my first experience with a liquid that could taste so vile. It wouldn't be until 15 years later with my first sip of Montezuma's Revenge Tequila that I would find something that tasted as bad as vanilla extract. But since then I've learned to drink responsibly and use vanilla extract sparingly.

It took me far too long to come up with an idea to make for vanilla when it was called out as the ingredient. I had finally decided on making Italian vanilla cookies when it dawned me, one of the most identifiable boxed cookies of all time is vanilla based, why not just make that? So after searching the internet high and low I found a Nilla wafer recipe that seemed to fit the bill. Upon making them for the first time I have to say I was a bit shocked by the results. I took my first bite and it came on strong as a sugar cookie. I felt betrayed. I felt like Samuel L. Jackson after Newman leaves with the dinosaur embryos. How could I be so stupid to trust the internet to make a Nilla wafer? But then I finished eating that cookie and there it was with all its glory: pure vanilla flavor. The finish on this cookie is EXACTLY what a Nilla wafer tastes like but cranked up to one thousand. I dare say this is better than a Nilla wafer as it combines both the sugar cookie and the Nilla wafer into one unstoppable duo.

Nilla Wafers

based on Serious Eat's

Qty Ingredient Procedure
1 stick butter
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream butter, sugar, and salt.
1/4 tsp salt
1 cup sugar
1 egg white
  1. Beat in the egg white into the butter mixture.
1 tbsp milk
  1. Incorporate the vanilla and milk in the butter mixture
1 tbsp vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
  1. Combine flour and baking soda in separate dish. Add to the butter mixture.
  2. Pipe onto a parchment lined baking sheet the size of nickels. Bake for 15-20 minutes until browned on the edges.
3/4 tsp baking soda

Before I start any cookie, I always let my butter sit on the counter for a couple hours. Trying to cream butter that hasn't had a chance to soften is awful; I would rather watch an episode of Big Tips Texas2. Once your butter is sufficiently soft, you're ready to get this bitch going. Preheat your oven to 350°F. Cream your butter, sugar, and salt. It will end up looking pretty crumbly but it will come together when you add the liquids.

Incorporate one egg white making sure to thoroughly beat it in with the butter-sugar mixture. Follow it up with the milk and the vanilla extract and beat until smooth. Your mixture will look slightly brown which is normal because of all of the vanilla extract. They are called Nilla wafers for a reason - they require a metric shit ton of vanilla.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour and baking soda and mix them together making sure there are no clumps. Most people like to sift their dry ingredients but honestly I think it's too much of a hassle. I just run through it with a whisk for fork to save myself the headache. Incorporate the dry with the wet slowly until everything is thoroughly combined.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Transfer the dough into a piping bag. I don't have a piping bag so I did the classic gallon size plastic bag with the tip cut off. This is some bootleg shit but it gets the job done. I had trouble piping out little nickel sized cookies like the recipe called for so I made little dog poops and pressed them down to be more cookie like.

Place in the oven for approximately 15-20 minutes rotating the trays every 5 minutes. This ensures they cook more evenly. Once you take out of them out of the oven make sure they cool completely before eating. This step is key. The sugar needs to harden again for the cookies to get a nice crunch on them. If you want them to be more similar to the boxed stuff, stale and slightly soft, put them in a plastic bag along with a piece of bread. The cookies will absorb the moisture from the slice of bread softening the cookies. I wasn't able to do this though - one beer encouraged eating rampage and they were all gone quicker than 3 South3.

  1. I loved eating raw flour. I'm not sure why but I can safely say I have not eaten any since I was maybe 8.  
  2. I have a habit of watching EVERY MTV reality show just to see what it's about. I ended up watching all of Big Tips Texas and it may be the worst MTV reality show of all time. It's right up there with 8th and Ocean and Newport Harbor. 
  3. I was not kidding about watching a lot of MTV. 

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