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Iced Tea & Vanilla Butter Cookies

June 17, 2012

It’s always nice to have something homemade when someone is coming over, even if it’s just for a quick visit in the afternoon.  We had an old friend stop by on a recent Saturday afternoon so I made homemade iced tea and vanilla sablé cookies (which is  just a fancy way of saying vanilla butter cookies).  These cookies should be a year-round staple, equally delicious with a refreshing cup of iced tea or a steaming hot tea or coffee in the winter.  The recipe calls for sanding sugar but I had turbinado in the pantry so used that with great results.

Homemade iced tea couldn’t be easier and is a great drink to keep on hand in the summer. I love unsweetened iced tea and find myself craving it when the temperature creeps up.  There is something about ice cold tea with a hint of lemon that is so refreshing and satisfying.  If you like your iced tea sweet, you can add simple syrup to taste.  Or, rim your glasses with turbinado for just a dash of sweetness.

Sitting on the porch with a tray of Classic Iced Tea and homemade butter cookies…sheer bliss!

Classic Iced Tea
adapted from Fine Cooking
yields about two quarts

2 1/4 cups water plus 6 cups water, separated
6 Orange Pekoe tea bags
3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
turbinado sugar for garnish (optional)

Bring 2 1/4 cups water to a gentle boil in a small saucepan. Add the tea bags, cover and remove from heat. Let steep for 15 minutes.

Remove the tea bags without squeezing – it will cause bitterness – and discard. Pour the tea into a large heatproof pitcher (I used a rubbermaid plastic one for this and later transferred to a nice glass pitcher) and add 6 cups cold water. Stir tea and let cool. Refrigerate until cold. Before serving, stir in the lemon juice.

To serve, rim the glasses with turbinado sugar. Pour turbinado sugar onto a small plate. Cut a small slit in a lemon wedge as though you are going to place the wedge on the rim of the glass. Run the lemon around the rim of a glass. Turn the glass upside down and dip into the turbinado sugar. Fill glass with ice and fill up with cold iced tea.

Vanilla Sablé Cookies
adapted from Fine Cooking
yields about 24 cookies

2 high quality vanilla beans
1/3 cup sugar
8 ounces high-fat unsalted butter, such as Lurpak or Plugrá, softened
1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 large egg yolks, separated
2 cups all-purpose flour
white sanding sugar or turbinado sugar

Cut the vanilla beans in half lengthwise and scrape the seeds and pulp into a small bowl. Add the sugar and rub the sugar and vanilla together until blended.

Using a KitchenAid with the paddle attachment or a hand mixer, mix the butter on low speed for about 1 minute, until smooth and creamy. Don’t make it light and fluffy. Mix in the salt. Then, add the vanilla sugar mixture and the confectioners’ sugar. Mix until smooth, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides. Add one egg yolk and mix until just combined. With the mixer still on low speed, add the flour until just combined. The dough will be quite soft.

Turn the dough onto the counter and knead a few times. Divide the dough in half and shape into 9″ logs. Wrap each log in saran wrap and refrigerate for three hours.

Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the heat. Preheat to 350°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Sprinkle 1/2 cup sanding or turbinado sugar onto a piece of waxed paper. In a small bowl, gently whisk the second egg yolk with a splash of water. Brush both logs of dough with the egg wash and roll in the sugar until evenly coated. If your logs are not perfectly round (mine weren’t), you may need to sprinkle some sugar on patches. Trim the ends off the logs. Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/2″ thick rounds.

Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping positions halfway through. Bake for 18 to 22 minutes total, until the cookies are slightly brown around the edges and golden on the bottom. Let cool for 5 minutes on the baking sheets then transfer to a cooling rack and let cool completely. Cookies need to cool completely before eating, otherwise their texture won’t be right.

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