Vanilla Bean Cookies are a traditional ricotta cookie with vanilla bean and a vanilla frosting drizzle. We’re celebrating Oat&Sesame’s 1 year anniversary!
I’ve chosen to highlight something we all love and use for primarily for baking – VANILLA!
Vanilla is native to Mexico and is pollinated solely by Melipone bees (a stingless variety also found only in Mexico). European expansion around the world brought cuttings from Mexican vanilla plants to other tropical areas where it flourished (i.e Bourbon Island + Madagascar). However without the Melipone bees it has to be hand pollinated within 24 hours of flowering – making vanilla one of the most labor intensive crops to grow.
According to United Nations reports, about 70% of the vanilla that we see in the stores comes from Madagascar and approximately 70% of the country’s labor force relies on vanilla for their livelihood. Vanilla is extremely important to Madagascar’s economy.
At the store, lurking next to bottles of pure vanilla, you may notice plastic bottles full of a cheaper synthetic version. It offers similar flavor – albeit a manmade one – but with it brings economic consequences to vanilla growers.
Choosing real or synthetic is a decision that can effect the income of farmers who survive on vanilla as a cash crop. This 6 minute video produced by the United Nations outlines the issues that growers face in an economy that says cheaper is better.
A bottle of vanilla may seem small, but it’s these small choices that produce a bigger outcome that you may never know about – unless you read it here!
And this leads me to the Rodelle vanilla brand.
As a former Peace Corp volunteer, Joe Basta, co-founder of Rodelle, uses his past experience working in developing countries to create programs that not only offer his customers a premium product, but work to give farmers and their communities an improved and sustainable way of living. It’s a great example of social entrepreneurship.
The Rodelle Cares programs deliver support through education, teaching sustainable farming practices, a farmers cooperative, microfinance programs, fair wages and a health & sanitation project. As a bonus, their headquarters in Fort Collins, Colorado is completely wind powered. I secretly wish I worked there…I bet everyone smells like vanilla and cocoa powder. 🙂
Bet you didn’t know that you could be supporting all of this from a tiny bottle of vanilla.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I was not compensated for this post; I received complimentary products for review purposes courtesy of Rodelle. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
This was my first time using vanilla paste and I have to admit it was much easier than scraping a bean. The paste is like a simple syrup that has been thickened with LOTS of vanilla bean. I’m most definitely swirling a bit it in my morning oatmeal.
Since the holidays are just around the corner I decided to take my traditional lemon ricotta cookie and create a vanilla bean version.
These Vanilla Bean Cookies are soft and tender with a thin layer of crisp on the edges. Ricotta cookies are some of the best cookies for holiday trays – at Christmas I make this Cannoli Cookie recipes that is by far one of my most popular recipes on the blog.
A traditional ricotta cookie with vanilla bean and a vanilla frosting drizzle.
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter softened to room temp
- 1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
- 2 whole eggs plus one egg white
- 1 15-ounce container whole milk ricotta cheese, drained preferably overnight
- 2 tsp Rodelle vanilla bean paste
- 1 1/2 cups powdered sugar more or less to get ideal icing consistency
- 4 teaspoons half and half
- 1 tsp Rodelle vanilla bean paste
- lemon for zesting on top optional
Place the ricotta cheese in a strainer over a bowl and place in the fridge overnight (or a couple hours) to drain out all the excess liquid. You can skip this if you have high quality ricotta at your store.
Place oven racks in the upper portions of your oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F. (You will reduce heat to 350 when you put the cookies in)
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standing mixer, add butter and beat on medium for 10 seconds.
With the mixer running on medium, slowly pour in the sugar. Beat the butter and sugar for 2 minutes, stopping once to scrap down the sides of the bowl. You should get a nice and fluffy result. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, beating until incorporated.
Add the ricotta cheese and the vanilla paste. Beat to combine.
Stir in the dry ingredients.
Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Spoon the dough (about 1 heaping tablespoon for each cookie) onto the baking sheets. To get a more uniform shape and even baking, I like to roll them into balls and chill the sheets for about 30 minutes before I put them in the oven.
Turn down the oven to 350 and bake for 15 minutes, until bottom edges have color and tops are starting to get a little color. Rotating them halfway through and keeping an eye on them around minute 12.
Remove from the oven and let the cookies rest on the baking sheet for 20 minutes.
Combine the powdered sugar, half and half and vanilla bean paste in a small bowl and stir until smooth. You want the glaze to be fairly thick, but still loose enough that it naturally spreads to coat the cookie.
Spoon about 1/2 teaspoon onto each cookie and use the back of the spoon to gently spread.
Add a little lemon zest to the tops of each.
Let the glaze harden for about 2 hours before storing.
These cookies are best eaten within a couple days.