Totally unrelated to its alcoholic counterpart, Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste originates from Madagascar and is named for the islands off of its coast. Deliciously smooth and decadent it masterfully replaces any call for “essence” or “extract” in a recipe and adds a gourmet look, remarkable scent and unparalleled taste to baked goods. Made by Nielsen Massey it is available at igourmet.com
Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Bean Paste, igourmet.com, $12.99
Try it in these rich, soft sugar cookies which garner a request for the recipe wherever they are served (seriously!)
(Recipe courtesy of, “The Gourmet Cookbook,” edited by Ruth Reichl available on Amazon.com, $26.40)
Sugar Cookies (Page 669)
1 cup granulated sugar, plus additional for shaping and sprinkling on cookies
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
1 cup vegetable oil (may seem odd at first, but keeps the cookies super moist)
1 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (Here’s where we substitute with vanilla bean paste)
1 1/4 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
4 cups all-purpose flour
Put a rack in the middle of oven and preheat oven to 375 F. Whisk together granulated sugar and confectioner’s sugar in a large bowl. Whisk in oil, eggs, vanilla, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar until combined. Add flour and stir until a dough forms; dough will be dry and slightly crumbly. (It’s quite dry and crumbly. Keep patting it together and have faith)
Form level tablespoons of dough into balls and arrange about 2 inches apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten balls with bottom of a glass dipped in granulated sugar (edges of cookies will crack), then sprinkle cookies with sugar.
Bake cookies in batches until set but still pale for chewy cookies, about 8 minutes per batch, or until pale golden for crisp cookies, about 10 minutes per batch. Transfer to racks to cool.
Perfect for Valentine’s Day heart cookies and Easter egg cookies!!