I have no idea how it can possibly be the end of May and the end of the school year. Brianna's last day was last Thursday. Being a worrier, I don't think she was completely convinced that she had been promoted to 4th grade until she saw it in writing on her report card. Then last night we had Gillian's graduation from pre-K. (She'll still be at the daycare for the summer, but they had the ceremony at the end of the traditional school year so that no one would miss out because of vacations, etc.) It wasn't a very long program, since 4 and 5-year-olds don't have very long attention spans, but it was certainly entertaining.
One of the things I like to do at various times including the end of the year is make little gifts for the teachers. I don't usually do anything big, but I try to make sure that it's something special. For Teacher Appreciation Week in early May, I made World Peace Cookies. What teachers wouldn't welcome a little more peace in their lives? =) Since I went with chocolate for that occasion, I wanted something different for the end of the year thank-yous. Something...vanilla.
Over the past couple of weeks Central Market did a focus on France, with lots of interesting French products and ingredients. I picked up some salted butter, so I had to find something to make with it. Naturally, I turned to Dorie. I remembered seeing a cookie recipe of hers in a recent issue of one of my cooking magazines. I had to do a bit of searching through the stack by my computer, but I found it. Vanilla Bean Sablés--French butter cookies.
The recipe calls for unsalted butter and sea salt, so I used my salted butter and skipped the additional salt. Rather than two vanilla beans, I used one and some of my vanilla sugar. I love rubbing the vanilla seeds into the sugar--it always makes my fingers smell good. (And after I scraped the seeds from the pod, I stuck the pieces into my container of vanilla sugar to make more!) The rest of the ingredient list is simple, just some powdered sugar, flour, and an egg yolk. The dough mixes up quickly in a stand mixer, and gets formed into a couple of logs. Once the dough is chilled, it's rolled in coarse sparkling sugar, then sliced and baked. I did skip the step of brushing the dough logs with egg wash before coating with sugar; I just pressed the sugar into the dough. The cookies bake for about 20 minutes, and you can smell when they're done.
The verdict? I totally love these cookies. The flavors of butter and vanilla play so well together, especially when the bottoms of the cookies turn such a lovely golden brown. The cookies have a great texture, short and crumbly and with the contrast of crunchy sparkling sugar on the edges. They're great paired with a mug of tea. I hope the teachers enjoyed them as much as I did.
If you'd like to try these cookies for yourself, you can find the recipe in the April/May issue of Fine Cooking, or here online.
Ready for kindergarten!