Vanilla dreams: The REAL holiday crunch

“What’s the secret ingredient?”

We’ve all asked that question, haven’t we, when tasting something that really tickles our fancy. Maybe it’s a bowl of chili with the faint but delightful flavor of… what? Or a coffeecake with an aromatic, kind of vanilla, barely-there citrus, Creamsicle-type taste… what IS that flavor?

We’ve been featuring “secret ingredients” on our Baker’s Catalogue home page recently, and this week it was my turn to pick. Eureka! the recipe I was doing just happens to use TWO “secret” ingredients. Read on…

There’s a great recipe for an ethereally light, crunchy sugar cookie on our recipe site. These Vanilla Dream cookies earn a 5-star rating from readers: “This was a very easy recipe and it is incredibly crisp and flavorful. I love crisp cookies and vanilla so it was perfect,” says Valerie.

Indeed, crisp/crunchy is the defining element of these rather plain looking, cream-colored cookies. It’s surprisingly difficult to make the “perfect” sugar cookie, since everyone’s idea of perfect is different, harking back to Mom, Grandma, or early experiences with Archway. Some like their sugar cookies totally soft; some “bendy;” some crisp, and some crunchy (yes, there’s a difference). Some folks—mainly old-line New Englanders—even like their sugar cookies rock-hard, the better to dunk in a cup of tea or coffee.

Our King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion offers a whole chapter devoted to sugar cookies. So if you’re a sugar cookie “apprecianado,” run on down to your local library and check it out. But if you’re a casual fan, and looking for a great all-purpose sugar cookie for your arsenal of sweets, Vanilla Dreams are a good place to start.

I made the Dreams a couple of weeks ago for a party. Despite my decorative twist of imprinting them with a spiral design on top (courtesy of the food pusher tool from our test kitchen Cuisinart), they were just too darned plain-looking.


Inspiration and a desire for chocolate hit concurrently. What if I drizzled melted chocolate on top? Nah, it would obliterate that nice design. Well, how about dipping their edges? Nope; I know from experience I wouldn’t do a clean enough job. What’s left? Ah-HA! Coat their bottoms with chocolate, so that on the plate, half would show a nice, spiral-design top; and half, their chocolate bottoms.

But something still wasn’t right. I could see the chocolate looking sparse, or not setting up right, or… How about coating with chocolate, then dipping in crushed nuts? Yes, that’s it. The nuts would fancy things up, plus help keep any soft chocolate from messing up the surrounding cookies.

The result? A Pepperidge Farms Geneva Cookie clone. Crisp/crunchy sugar cookie, brushed with dark chocolate, dipped in crushed nuts. And as for those secret ingredients, here they are:


Sonoma Vanilla Crush, vanilla extract laced with vanilla seeds. One whiff of this, and you’ll remember just why vanilla is the world’s most popular baking flavor. This is the most aromatic vanilla I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. As “Eve in Idaho” notes in a comment on an earlier blog, “To anyone who uses vanilla extract… throw it out and replace it with Vanilla Bean Crush… I am having an absolutely fabulous experience with it. Won’t ever go back to the store version again.”


And here’s what makes these Vanilla Dreams so ethereally light and crunchy: baker’s ammonia, a.k.a. ammonium carbonate. While you can use baking powder in its stead, your cookies won’t have quite the light crunch.


Butter and vanilla take center stage in these simple cookies. Start by combining those two key ingredients with salt, sugar, and baker’s ammonia (or baking powder).


Mix till well combined.


Mix in the flour. The dough will be VERY crumbly at first. Just keep mixing…


And eventually the dough will come together. It’ll be quite stiff.


Roll the dough into balls, and roll in granulated sugar or coarse white sparkling sugar, if desired.


Space evenly on a lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheet.


Flatten each ball to about 3/8” thick. As I said, the pusher tool of a food processor makes a good flattener, though the flat bottom of a glass or measuring cup also works well.


Here they are, ready to bake (sans the sugar coating; I don’t use it when I’m going to dip them in chocolate).


And here they are baked: don’t let them get too brown, or they’ll be hard.

Now, you can serve them just like this; or take them to the next level.


First, crush some nuts. Here I’m using a zip-top bag and rolling pin. Walnuts or pecans (as I use here) are both good choices, as are almonds. Hazelnuts would be fine, too. Peanuts? Well, kind of plebeian, but if you like the chocolate-peanut combo, go for it.


The nuts should be crushed, but not pasty/oily.


Combine chocolate chips with a bit of vegetable oil and heat in the microwave till the chips are very soft.


Stir till smooth.


Use a heatproof pastry brush to paint the bottom of each cookie with melted chocolate.


Like this.


Dip in the nuts, pressing down gently to coat…


…like this.


Place chocolate-side-up to set. If you’re in a hurry, refrigerate briefly, to set the chocolate.

Buy vs. Bake

Buy: Pepperidge Farm Geneva Cookies, 62¢/ounce

Bake at home: Vanilla Dreams with Chocolate and Pecans, 21¢/ounce

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Eric

    Darn you! I hope nobody I know reads the blog, because I never, ever, ever tell people about the Secret Ingredient that makes Vanilla Dreams totally unlike any other homemade cookie! *sulk* Now *everybody’s* gonna know.

    You might issue a tiny caution not to sample the raw dough, as it can cause minor burns to the oral mucosa, and this might not be the best recipe for kids to help with, at least until the raw dough is baked.

    I love working with bakers ammonia (at least from a results perspective – I dislike the kitchen that smells like a beauty shop and the watering eyes) – the results are so darned. . . professional. It’s ideal added to spritz cookies and homemade crackers as well.

    Gosh, Eric, you must use a lot more baker’s ammonia than I do. I don’t experience any of that – I taste the dough no problem, don’t smell anything while the cookies are baking, no watering eyes… I can imagine if you used a lot of it that would happen, but 1/2 teaspoon really isn’t going to produce all of those ‘side effects”! And BTW – I hope YOUR friends don’t read this, so your secret remains safe! PJH

  2. Mike T.

    Well, like Eric, I can smell it when I bake this recipe. Yep, I’ve got the crush and BA too! This was one of the first recipes from the KAF Cookie Companion that I made. Great cookie, and what a great idea for them! I’ve spread dark chocolate on hazelnut cookies, but never thought to use it on this one, not to mention adding in the nuts (mmmm hazelnuts).

    Thanks for the ideas. Cookie day was last Saturday in my family, but I’ve still got time before the holidays… 😉

    Go for it, Mike… PJH

  3. marbarre

    Is that a special beater on the mixer you are using in the first photo? I just
    ordered something similar for my large Kitchen Aid and wondered how effective they were in scraping the bowl as you mix. I especially have issues with smaller
    recipes in the large bowl.

    It’s called a Beater Blade, and it works very well, Marbarre – but one caveat: DO NOT use it for rock-hard butter, very stiff bread dough, or anything else of a similar challenging nature. I broke my first one by mistreating it in that way. It’s designed for batters, soft cookie doughs, meatloaf, mashed potatoes, etc. PJH

  4. Sherri

    Years ago I saw this recipe on your website and ordered some bakers ammonia (BTW thanks for the new larger size), they were an instant hit! I love the look on someones face after they have eaten one of these and then I let them smell the ‘secret ingredient’.

    One day I will get adventurous and try the baker’s ammonia in something new.

    If anyone is just reading this blog, do yourself a favor and make these. You will feel like a kid again, when you got to pick a treat at your neighborhood bake-shop! Oh, and they freeze well.

    Thanks for sharing this recipe so many years ago.

    Thanks for chiming in, sherri – glad we could remind you again about an old favorite- PJH

  5. Joy

    I was wondering if you were going to mention the unpleasant part of using baker’s ammonia. I am living in Denmark where it is called Hjortetaksalt (apparently it used to be made from deer antlers). We have used it in hindbaer snitter (sort of like a very rich pop tart) and we have to open the kitchen windows and leave the kitchen for part of the baking because of the fumes. It does give the pastry an amazing texture so we put up with it. I wonder if using a fan assist oven exasperates the problem as the recipe only calls for 1/2 teaspoon.

    I don’t know – I’m just not having this problem with the smell, etc., that you folks seem to be having… Maybe it’s the 1/2 teaspoon, which really is pretty minimal. PJH

  6. Beth

    PJ, did you use a scoop to get the little pieces of dough out of the bowl before you shaped them into balls? If so, what size did you use? And – wow! the chocolate “dreams” do look dreamy. By the way, I found a potato masher that makes a great imprint on peanut butter cookies, but I’ll have to find something that gives that great spiral design on the vanilla variety. They’re simple and elegant-looking, and people will think the baker slaved away all day making that design.

    Yup, Beth, I used the tablespoon cookie scoop (#40, in food service parlance). I like the potato masher idea, too – I’ve done that. But I just chanced on the Cuisinart food pusher, and I’ve stuck with it. That’s me – make it look like you slaved over something that’s REALLY easy… 🙂 PJH

  7. Alissa

    Does the Vanilla Crush hold up well to cinnamon? I typically use Mexican vanilla because I think it works well with the cinnamon in my cinnamon rolls and pumpkin cinnamon chip muffins, which I bake most often. Should I keep more than one vanilla in the house?

    Alissa, vanilla is like chocolate, is like wine… everyone’s palate reacts to it differently. I can say, it IS aromatic like Mexican vanilla. And I do find it nice and strong. But I can’t guarantee it will work for YOU like your Mexican vanilla does; sometimes you just have to step off the cliff and take a chance, you know what I mean? 🙂 PJH

  8. Terri

    Well, you sold me on both of your secret ingredients. I just hope that when they get here, I remembered why I ordered them! The cookies look great – I will try them out soon.

  9. Dessie Carpenter

    Vanilla Dreams are my husband’s favorite cookie. I roll the dough in course colored sugar: red and green at Christmas.

    Good idea, Dessie! PJH

  10. Pam

    I like crisp cookies and my spritz always seem a little soft. Can the baker’s ammonia be used as a substitute for the baking soda in more traditional recipes? By the way, the recipes and the free shipping draw me in big time!

    Pam, try this cookie dough to make spritz cookies – I think it would work just fine. Since I don’t know your spritz recipe, it’s hard to judge if you could substitute baker’s ammonia for the baking soda… PJH

  11. Sherri

    Sorry, I forgot to mention earlier, but I have never had a problem with the fumes, in fact I have eaten this cookie dough to see what it tastes like before I bake it and it’s tasty (but I love cookie dough). My sense of smell is also considered hyper-sensitive. Perhaps I am just able to put up with a lot for a good cookie.

  12. benita strnad

    I need to send some cookies overseas and wondered if these cookies would keep well enough to last for one week in the mail and a few days longer by the time they get eaten.

    also how long does baker’s ammonia last? I have some from two years ago that I have not used up.

    Benita, these cookies would be just fine shipped; they’re very sturdy, and will stay fresh. As for the baker’s ammonia, if you open it up and it smells strong, it should be fine. PJH

  13. Cindy

    I tried these last night and they are really good! They were quick to mix up and my five year old grandaughter enjoyed rolling the dough and stamping the cookies. We’ll definitely use this recipe again.

  14. Lisa

    I think the baker’s ammonia is the same thing as Swedish Hjortronsalt which is what my grandmother from Sweden used to use to make spritz. And a special almond cake called Kubbar. All her recipes were handed down to me in Swedish and measured in deciliters. Glad to know where I can find the American substitute now, if indeed it is the same.

    You’re right, Lisa, same thing. Glad you found us! 🙂 PJH

  15. Tom

    PJ et. al. –

    I really want to try all these wonderful recipes you folks are posting, but at this time of year, I just don’t have the time. But, please don’t slow down! How long will they be available on the blog? I need to print them off before they disappear.

    I really appreciate all these recipes, thanks for all your efforts. KAF is a great company with fantastic employee-owners!


    Thanks for the kind words, Tom. The blog recipes will be here from now to eternity, as far as I can tell… There’s no plan to delete any of them. Just search the archives for what you’re looking for, and you’ll find it. Cheers! – PJH

  16. deb devo

    PJH – I was confused by your comment on the #40 cookie scoop. I thought that the number on the scoop indicated how many scoops it would take to fill a quart. If that is true, then I was thinking that a #64 scoop would be a tablespoon, since 4 tbsp equal a quarter cup, then there would be 16 in a cup, then that would make 64 in a quart. Is the scoop (catalogue #5639) really a tablespoon or is it a number 40. I already have a #60 scoop and am looking for larger sizes. Can you tell me where I am jistaken? Also, can you tell me what size the jumbo scoop (catalogue number 5605) would be?

    Hi Deb – You’re right. Our catalogue cookie scoops are sized for the traditional “teaspoons” and “tablespoons” people used to use to drop cookies onto cookie sheets — which are actually more than the exact measurements we now use. So yes, our tablespoon cookie scoop holds about 4 teaspoons, and the teaspoon scoop holds about 1 3/4 teaspoons. That would be level scoops; since you usually heap them up a bit, each one would be closer to 2 tablespoons and 2 teaspoons, respectively. The jumbo scoop is about 3 tablespoons, size #30. Hope this helps- PJH

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  18. Susan

    These cookies sound absolutely scrumptious – and gorgeous! I will surely be trying them.

    I have a question which relates to the baker’s ammonia, but not the cookies, though. I have been looking for a recipe for pizza crust that is like Pizza Hut’s very soft, very light and fluffy crust. One recipe I saw includes baking soda. I’m wondering if the reason it was included is to create that really puffy lightness? And if so, would the baker’s ammonia be even better? I haven’t tried the recipe yet, so I don’t know how it will work out.

    I just discovered your blog tonight, so now I can’t get to bed. I am so naughty. But I’m learning so many new things here. While baking soda and baker’s ammonium are both leaveners neither of them contribute to “light and puffy”. I suspect the recipe you saw using soda used it primarily as a dough conditioner, not a leavener. Frank from KAF.

  19. Jamie C

    I’ve made these cookies twice (just plain though). Both times I’ve used vanilla sugar (granulated sugar left to sit with split vanilla beans) to boost the vanilla flavor. It’s worked great both times. Thanks for all the great recipies!


    Thanks to my son, John, I get numerous King Arthur recipes. They are all outstanding!!! The kid’s cookie recipe was nothing short of being excellent. I am a King Arthur Flour fan and use it to guarantee excellent results.

  21. Audrey Binder

    This recipe was great! It did smell (like a hair salon) so I could NOT wait to taste the final product. The cookies turned out exactly like you described here. I haven’t made a KAF recipe that hasn’t turned out as promised yet!! Thanks so much.

  22. Emilie

    I made these today almost as soon as I received my latest order (with the baker’s ammonium in it). They are AMAZING! I’ve made a lot of cookies in my day and have never come up with one that had the amazing chewy-crunch that this one does. I used also 1/8 t. Fiori as someone suggested, and they were really divine, with and without the chocolate and nuts. Thanks for another great recipe!

    Glad you discovered one of our “secret” ingredients, Emilie. Enjoy – PJH

  23. Deborah

    I just made these cookies and agree with the postings about how wonderful they are. Do you have other recipes using baker’s ammonium?

    A few, Deborah – type baker’s ammonia into the search box at I’d love the chance to develop some more – time is the issue! PJH

  24. Sherry

    I made these yesterday, but I used (non aluminum) baking powder and I substituted KAF White whole wheat flour for about 1/3 the flour amount. Of course, I used about three teaspoons of the Vanilla Crush… They are the best tasting vanilla sugar/butter cookies EVER! They taste even better today than yesterday. To me, they taste very much like Pepperidge Farm Chessmen cookies.. It’s hard to imagine how much better they might be using baker’s ammonia. Thanks for a great recipe.

    GREAT, Sherry; glad you like them. Don’t you love that Vanilla Crush? 🙂 PJH

  25. Carol LaPorte

    Hello from the Heartland–

    Yesterday I tried making a chocolate version of the Vanilla Dreams and they turned out pretty darn good, if I say so myself! I replaced 2 oz of the KA AP flour with 2 oz. Hershey’s cocoa powder, and used 2 tsps. of vanilla extract plus 1 tsp. of The Spice House’s Coffee extract for flavoring. Vanilla Dreams are one awesome cookie–I wonder how many other variations we can come up with?


    WHOA, sounds yummy, Carol. How about lemon? PJH

  26. Eileen Egan

    I made these yesterday, used the powder instead of the aluminum. The first batch was fine but after that I had nothing but problems. They kept spreading and the edges were burning while the center wasn’t really done. Changed the temp, changed the time. What am I doing wrong?

    Please call us on the hotline 800-827-6836. Frank from KAF.

  27. Terri

    I finally made these tonight and I haven’t yet put the chocolate coating or nuts on, but I have to say the plain cookies could now be my favorite cookie! I’m having some people over tomorrow, which is why I made them, so I’m going to do the chocolate/nuts on half of them for my cookie plate. I also used the pusher for my food processor to make them pretty on top – great tip!

    I do have a question, though – your blog recipe varies slightly from the recipe in the Cookie Companion (not talking about the chocolate addition on the blog, just the basic recipe). Any reason? Any taste difference between the two? Thanks for the best recipe!

    Any variation between blog vs. recipe is simply my lack of organizational ability. I’d say follow the recipe, since it includes ingredient amounts, and the blog doesn’t. If it’s a question of when/how to add things, then follow either, since it won’t make a difference. Good luck – PJH

  28. Vilma Morgan

    This is an attempt to tweak the memories of “older” people who might work at your place of biz. I am 81 yrs. old and have memories of a cookie I loved when in high school. It was tan, sturdy, crunchy, crispy and sort of nondescript, and it was loaded on the top with plain, unsalted peanuts, halves, pressed into the cookie. Sound boring? Not to me. We bought these at the grocery store. Can anyone think of a recipe for a cookie like this? I just need a basic recipe. I will handle the peanuts! This was a “tough cookie” not a light and airy cookie for a ladies’ tea party. And, hey, I will get the vanilla and probably the baker’s ammonium or whatever you call it. Thanks! What kind of cookie base was it? A sugar, chocolate chip without the chips or a peanut butter? Let us know and we’ll try to help! Molly@KAF

  29. Vilma Morgan

    Molly: The cookie, and this was a looooong time ago, was not a sugar cookie, and it was not a peanut butter cookie. Perhaps more like a choc. chip w/o chips, but as I remember it was so — plain is the best way to describe it. I don’t think it was terribly buttery either. I am probably asking for too much and don’t want to be a bother. By the way I just made the cookies (I ordered the vanilla stuff and I ordered the ammonia stuff but made the cookies w/o either) and wow! they are incredible! Don’t bother with this silly request because I am sure you have better things to do. I tried on Google to search for “crispy cookie with peanuts” but only got pgs. of peanut butter cookie recipes. Here is something I wonder about, though. When the ammonia stuff comes, in all recipes containing baking soda, do you do an exact switch measurementwise for the ammonia? Thanks. Vilma

    Vilma, I’ll look for those cookies – I have a vague memory of my aunt having given me a recipe from my grandma… I’ll see if I can find it. As for the baker’s ammonia, you’ll use a lot less of it in cookies and crackers. For crisp cookies/crackers, try substituting 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon for the baking soda or baking powder in your recipe. PJH

    OK, not exactly, but try this:

    Crunchy Nut Cookies
    1 cup granulated sugar
    1 cup brown sugar
    1/2 cup shortening
    2 eggs
    1 teaspoon vanilla
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    3 cups all-purpose flour (King Arthur, of course)
    1 cup nuts

    Mix the sugars, shortening, eggs, and vanilla. Add the baking soda, salt, and flour. Stir in the nuts. Drop by tablespoonfuls onto a greased cookie sheet, and flatten with a glass dipped in sugar. Bake at 375°F for 8 to 10 minutes. Makes about 5 dozen.

    Maybe you could press nuts into the tops of the cookies? This sounds like a plain, old-fashioned cookie, crunchy/hard, not soft. Let me know what you think – PJH

  30. Vilma Morgan

    Thanks a bunch! Or thanks a cup and a half. I will hold off making these until the goodies arrive from King Arthur. They notified me that the box has shipped. I will let you know how they turn out. Vilma

  31. Jennifer

    Holy cow, PJ. These are amazing. I just made them plain and words can not describe how awesome these cookies are….I’m glad I bought the baker’s ammonia. Thanks for another great recipe!

    Baker’s ammonia does make a difference, huh? Stay tuned for another baker’s ammonia cookie – this one fudge-filled chocolate sandwich – next month, Jennifer – PJH

  32. Nel

    A couple of friends did something deserving not only cookies, but their choice of cookies. I asked them to talk it over, and though they were speaking another language, I could understand that one expressed a preference for walnuts and another a preference for coconut. I know from previous experience that chocolate goes down well with the whole gang, and so a variation was born.

    I made two batches of these cookies, one with dark chocotate and crushed walnuts (pecans are too expensive in Europe, and not as fresh as the walnuts I gathered and shell myself).

    In the other batch, I used three tsp of vanilla and about half a tsp of almond extract (I think next time, I’d use more; I can’t really taste the almond, myself). I used dark chocolate and coconut on the second batch. Since I don’t like nuts, I think I would probably prefer the more almond/chocolate/coconut version myself.

    In Europe – at least where I am – coconut comes three ways: in the nut (forget about it – too much work); in cans with lots of heavy syrup (tastes like… heavy syrup… and too wet to use) and the most common form, dry and unsweetened, in very small shreds, the perfect size for topping the cookies. I’m not sure how much the dry coconut would have soaked up the fluid chocolate – it might have discolored. I did an experiment to try to sweeten and moisten the coconut. I dissolved about two tablespoons of powdered sugar in about an equal amount of hot water to make a sweet solution. I added a few drops of coconut flavoring, since to my taste the dry doesn’t taste as coconut-y as I remember the moist, canned coconut in America. I put in the two cups of dessicated, unsweetened coconut and tossed it until the coconut had absorbed the liquid uniformly. It was just enough to make the coconut hold together in a clump if I squeezed it, but fall right apart if I touched the clump with a finger. Slightly sweet – not too sweet. It worked perfectly on top of the cookies and didn’t soak up any chocolate or discolor.

    You’re an intrepid and imaginative baker, Nel – congratulations! And thanks for sharing your variations on these cookies – they sound delicious. PJH

  33. Ellen

    Yes, it is possible for 3 adults to eat an entire batch of these in less than 20 hours. I think the next batch of cookies needs to be slightly less delectable.

  34. Marcia Branch

    I copied a recipe on-line for Vanilla Dreams and put it in my file….just finished rolling and dipping in sugar and pressing them…..and had the oven set at 300….but was wondering if that was the right temp. Sure enough it is BUT when I read this recipe from King Arthur Flour which the one I copied said it was from……had half the amount of Bakers Ammonia and vanilla!
    I don’t have anything to compare them with but they sure turned out nice and crisp!…and my hubby loved them!

    My first batch was huge…the third batch nice little cookies like I like them.

    My question is what would be the benefit of adding more bakers ammonia?

    No advantage Marcia, if you’re happy with the way they came out the first time. Recipes do change slightly over the years, due to misprints, or experimentation on the part of the test kitchen. Someone along the line – maybe me! – might have decided 1 teaspoon baker’s ammonia yielded a nicer cookie. Give the 1 teaspoon a try next time, see what you think – I do like more rather than less vanilla… PJH

  35. Val

    Mine were very, very flat. I’m wondering if it’s because I mixed the salt, baking powder, and vanilla up, then realized the butter wasn’t soft enough yet. So my baking powder was wet for probably half an hour before I started mixing. Could that cause them to be flat? They looked the same as yours up until midway through the bake. My cookies really spread and were quite brown at 20 minutes, so I took them out. They’re very crispy, caramelized almost, and very, very flat. They’re delicious, though. I would call these more like Pepperidge Farm Bodeaux cookies rather than Genevas, but since I love Bordeaux that’s cool. I think I’ll order the baker’s ammonia and try that, plus in case it was the too-early-wet baking powder, I’ll make sure my butter is soft before adding the vanilla.

    Yes, the baking powder is activated first by the liquid, then by the heat of the oven. When you added the butter, it pushed the initial relaese of gas out. So you only had about 50% strength left for the oven. Frank @ KAF.

  36. Gary Stotsky

    I am searching for other cookies using bakers’ ammonium Especially one that was bow tie shaped. Anyone know of this

  37. A. Marina Fournier

    You have Baker’s ammonia! I need it for my springerle, and thought it was only available in Europe.

    I use nothing but Tahitian Vanilla, and it is heavenly (I have a local source I’ve been using for about 20 yrs). However, I will try vanilla crush, too.

    Marina from the south end of San Francisco Bay Area

    The TRUE cookie connoisseurs know about baker’s ammonia, don’t they, Marina? Glad we could help – PJH

  38. cmcmandy20519

    I am looking for a recipe like the Vanilla Wafers one buys in the grocery store…to use to make old fashioned banana pudding. Would this one work or would I need to find another.

    Yes, Mandy, these would be just perfect. Enjoy- PJH

  39. cs7998

    I made these cookies and they were great! I did want to ask if there is anyway I could modify the recipe to make a cut out cookie?

    Cathy, since these don’t need to be rolled very thin to be crunchy, unlike some cutout cookies, I think you could just make the dough as written, and roll out gently with sufficient flour to prevent sticking. Worth a try, I’d say – good luck. PJH

  40. anika

    Dear PJ,

    I tried these with ammonium carbonate and while they tasted really great and were crunchy, they didn’t look as I had expected: very large, irregular holes and the top surface looked porous, almost resembling an amaretto (biscuit)! The pictures on KAF and blog look like they should be pretty close-holed, is that correct? I’m going to try another batch decreasing the ammonium carbonate (I’m currently living overseas…so it wasn’t from KAF). And just to confirm: the finished texture should be similar to store-bought cookies? (e.g. vanilla wafers or pepperidge farm geneva or milano type or golden-oreo or vanilla sandwich cookie). I’ve always wondered if it’s possible to achieve something similar to the dense hole-less biscuit of an oreo or other commercial sandwich cookie….
    Hi there,
    The vanilla dreams will have a finer texture, not as open as amaretti biscuits. Definitely try reducing the ammonia, it sounds like it is causing too much bubbling in the dough. Let us know how it goes. ~ MaryJane

  41. anika

    Dear PJ,

    I tried these with ammonium carbonate and while they tasted really great and were crunchy, they didn’t look as I had expected: very large, irregular holes and the top surface looked porous, almost resembling an amaretto (biscuit)! The pictures on KAF and blog look like they should be pretty close-holed, is that correct? I’m going to try another batch decreasing the ammonium carbonate (I’m currently living overseas…so it wasn’t from KAF). And just to confirm: the finished texture should be similar to store-bought cookies? (e.g. vanilla wafers or pepperidge farm geneva or milano type or golden-oreo or vanilla sandwich cookie). I’ve always wondered if it’s possible to achieve something similar to the dense hole-less biscuit of an oreo or other commercial sandwich cookie….

    Thanks in advance! and apologies for the questions — just hoping for help from someone with much more experience than myself! 🙂

    Actually, Anika, these are rather porous. Take a look at the first blog picture – see the holes? I wouldn’t characterize these as Milano- or Geneva-type texture, or even the texture of a standard sugar cookie; they’ll definitely have some pock marks. Can’t say they’d be as noticeable as an amaretto cookie, but somewhere in between that and a ‘Nilla Wafer. So, try reducing the baker’s ammonia a bit, see what happens; the more you reduce it, the harder/denser they’ll be – which may fix the appearance of the surface, but will also affect their light crunchiness. Ah, for the best of both worlds… 🙂 PJH

  42. steveskat

    These are my favorite Sugar Cookies – I make them often. The one little change that I do is to add a few drops of Fiori di Sicilia. It just kicks them up that extra little notch. Don’t need any chocolate or nuts, just a sprinkle of coarse sugar before they go into the oven. I do find that they take only 10 to 15 minutes to bake.


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