Happy first weekend of summer! I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of Texas summers. This midwestern girl can’t handle the heat. Yesterday it was 102F with a heat index of 111F. It gets hot and humid in Michigan, but not 111 degrees. And, no matter where you are in Michigan, there’s always a lake nearby to go cool off. So what’s a homesick girl with a wicked sweet tooth to do? Make some Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies in the shape of my home state, and decorate them to look like the beach. 🙂
These cookies are simple and delicious. They’re sweet and buttery, with flecks of vanilla bean throughout. I topped them with royal icing, but they’d be delicious with buttercream, too (more on that here).
(For the record, the heart in the lower peninsula is where we used to live, and the heart in the upper peninsula is where my husband and I met/went to college.) <3
This dough is very soft, but it’s easy to work with after it’s been chilled. I don’t think it’s absolutely ideal for cut-outs, as some of my cookies spread a bit, but the flavor is amazing. I think the addition of vanilla bean paste really amps up the flavor in these simple cookies. If you can’t find it in your local grocery store (I never can), you can find it [here]. (A little bottle lasts a long time!) I also pulled out the big guns and splurged on a high-fat European butter.
The only specialty equipment that I used were silpats to line my cookie sheets (like this one [here]), and squeeze bottles for flooding the cookies with pourable royal icing (like these [here]). Both of these items are used just to make the process more convenient with easier cleanup.
Many variables will determine how long your cookies will take to bake. Cookies on parchment-lined baking sheets will brown faster than those on silpats. Dark pans will brown cookies faster than lighter-colored pans. Smaller cookies will be done more quickly than larger cookies. Keep an eye on them to ensure you’re not over- or under-baking your cookies!
The best part of these cookies is that the possibilities are endless! You choose the size and shape. You choose how to frost/decorate–if you choose to frost at all!
Just looking at these little beachy Michigans makes me smile, but knowing that we’ll be there soon (road trip!) visiting family and friends is what’s really keeping me going in this Texas heat right now. Follow me on Instagram where I’ll chronicle our adventures (and all the foooood!) in my stories!
Other posts you may like:
Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
Vanilla Bean Sugar Cookies
- 1 1/2 cups flour
- 1 1/4 tsp baking powder
- pinch salt
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature (1 stick)
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 Tbsp vanilla bean paste (see note)
- 1/3 cup water
- 1 lb powdered sugar, sifted
- 5 tsp meringue powder
- 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
- In a small bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking powder, and salt). Set aside.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine butter and sugar. Beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- Add egg and vanilla bean paste (see note). Mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add dry ingredients. Mix until just incorporated. Dough will be slightly sticky.
- Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and form into a ball. Cut dough in half, and form each half into a disk. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill for one hour.
- After the dough has chilled, preheat your oven to 350F. Line baking sheets with silpats (see note) or parchment paper.
- Working with one disk of dough at a time, roll the dough out to about 1/4-inch thick. Cut out shapes as desired. Scraps may be gathered and re-rolled to cut more cookies. If dough becomes too difficult to handle, chill again in the refrigerator.
- Place cut cookies on prepared baking sheets about 2 inches apart. Bake 15-17 minutes (see note) or until edges are lightly golden. Allow cookies to cool on the pan for 10 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine water, meringue powder, and cream of tartar. With the whisk attachment, beat mixture until soft peaks form. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides as necessary.
- With the mixer running on low speed, gradually add the powdered sugar. Beat mixture until combined.
- Color royal icing as desired. I outlined my cookies in royal icing. To frost the rest of the cookie, add enough water (you won't need much!) to make the icing a pourable consistency, and "flood" the cookies with the remaining icing.
- Royal icing dries out quickly, so be sure to keep it covered with plastic or inside squeeze bottles (see note) if you're not using it right away.
- If you'd like to create the "beach" design like I did, you need to have some white royal icing, then color the remaining royal icing blue and brown. Pipe brown and blue outlines on the cookies as desired.Take the remaining blue and brown royal icing and add enough water to each to make them a pourable consistency. Flood brown side with pourable royal icing, then sprinkle sugar on top to give the look of sand. Flood blue side with pourable royal icing.With the white royal icing, pipe squiggles (it's a technical term) where the sand meets the water. Using a small paint brush with a round tip, pull some of the royal icing into the "water" to give the look of surf.Enjoy!