Known for its rich, creamy, fruity and sweetness-enhancing qualities, vanilla is essential for baking. It creates the primary flavor in all of your favorite vanilla desserts, from light, fluffy cakes to chewy, classic sugar cookies. But you’ll find vanilla snuck into many other sweets recipes—not for its distinct flavor, but for its ability to enhance and complement other tastes. Chocolate, nuts, coffee, even fruit is made richer and more irresistible when vanilla is added to the baking bowl.
Using a high-quality vanilla may not completely make or break a baked treat, but the sophisticated richness and tantalizing aroma of pure vanilla will noticeably improve many recipes. Don’t use just any old vanilla in your holiday creations—make them extra-special with Simply Organic vanilla. Vegan and naturally gluten free, it’s made from beans harvested from small farming villages in Madagascar, one of the world’s best vanilla-growing regions.
Not sure which type is right for your recipe? Here’s more about our offerings:
Vanilla extract comes from vanilla beans that have been steeped in alcohol. It’s widely used to flavor desserts, especially baked goods and ice cream. Many chefs have discovered it to be an interesting ingredient to use in savory dishes as well.
Natural vanilla flavoring is derived from real vanilla beans with little to no alcohol. This concentrated vanilla flavor is often extra-rich and creamy, making it especially useful for baking.
Bourbon vanilla beans are aromatic with a full, rich taste, thick skins and many seeds. To use the bean, slice it lengthwise to expose the seeds (which contain most of the fragrance and flavor). Some recipes suggest scraping out the seeds, others direct you to use the whole slit pod. You can also grind the seeds for use. You can use a vanilla bean more than once – simply rinse and dry it between uses. But don’t store your vanilla beans in the refrigerator, because they may mold there; place it in a dry spot.
To substitute whole beans for vanilla extract, use about one inch of the bean for each teaspoon of the extract.
Try this simple, yet delicious, sugar cookie recipe for exceptional vanilla flavor.
Classic Sugar Cookies with Vanilla Icing
Makes 2 dozen
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In a stand mixer with paddle attachment or large bowl, cream butter and sugar. Add baking soda, salt and vanilla extract and beat until well combined.
- With mixer on low speed, add half of flour; mix until combined, then add remaining flour and beat until dough is well mixed.
- Turn out dough onto floured surface. Divide dough into 4 balls. Roll balls to ¼” thickness, then cut into shapes as desired. Re-roll scraps and continue to form cookies until all dough is used.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange cookies on sheet and bake 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned around edges. Let cool 5 minutes on sheet before transferring to cooling rack.
- For icing, combine powdered sugar, vanilla and milk. Stir to combine, adding extra teaspoons of milk as needed to reach spreadable consistency.
- Dip cookies, face down, in icing. Lift and spread icing with knife, removing excess as needed. Top with goji berries for a festive look.
Note: If desired, make dough ahead of time and refrigerate until ready to use.