I received a birthday gift of various vanillas and a jar of pink himalayan salt last month. “Ah, sweet and savory!” I exclaimed, happy for the staples. A cook cannot be without vanilla and salt for sure. I imagined the wonderful cookies and cakes i would make with the vanilla, and the various savory dishes I would sprinkle with the salt.
It did not occur for me to COMBINE the two.
Wait, you say? Vanilla AND salt cookies? Yup. I did a doubletake, too. The recipe is a basic vanilla sugar icebox cookie–lots of butter, some flour, egg and sugar and vanilla, rolled into a log and then chilled until time for baking. The unique variation was sprinkling the cookies with pink himalayan rock crystals.
I couldn’t resist trying out the combination for myself–with the recent gift, it also felt like kizmet, as if I was destined to make these cookies! They were quite beautiful going into the oven as you see above, and just as beautiful once baked…
I want to say that the cookies were heavenly–but they were not. Though the cookie part was wonderfully buttery, everytime I caught a bite of the salt, I was overpowered by the saltiness. I mean REALLY overpowered by the salt. I ended up picking off all the salt bits.
But I was not discouraged! The bold idea of topping these cookies with salt emboldened me to other possibilities. So for the next batch, I tried out other toppings. I garnished some cookies with toasted sesame seeds, some with maple sugar, and some with rooibos tea leaves. Yes, they were Marco Polo Rouge Bourbon (rooibos tea tinged with vanilla). Oh, and some I made plain.
I baked the cookies and took them with me to a writing meeting with a friend–so I had the chance to share each of them and receive feedback. She gave a thumbs up on the toasted sesame seeds, and was intrigued by the rooibos topping.
The best part about this cookie adventure was that I am still thinking about variations. If someone could dare to make this with salt, what else? Next time, I’m thinking about making some sort of concentrated Mariage Freres Bourbon Rouge (rooibos) tea solution and infusing it into the cookie mixture for a stronger rooibos taste!
Here is the recipe:
250g butter ( 1 cup)
1/4 tsp salt
125g sugar (1/2 cup)
2 large egg yolks
1 tbsp vanilla extract
315g plain flour (1.25 cups)
Beat the butter, salt and sugar at medium speed untill smooth.
Add egg yolks and vanilla and beat at low speed until blended.
Add flour and mix until a dough forms.
Divide dough into three or four equal portions. Roll each portion into logs about 1.5 inches in diameter (I made them smaller, one inch in diameter). Wrap logs in plastic wrap and freeze or refrigerate till firm.
Before baking, unwrap log and cut into 1/4 inch thick slices. At this point you can op to sprinkle crystal sugar, crystal salt or chopped nuts on the surface. Bake at 180 C (350 F) for 12-15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 5 minutes then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely before storing in an airtight container.