cookies · dessert

Vanilla Sables

A cookie a day keeps the doctor away? Oh if only cookies could heal all sickness. If there was one cookie with healing power, I think it would be these vanilla sables. Or these chocolate chips… in a non-holiday time of year, they will always win.

Anyone else feeling the letdown of Christmas being over? It hit me as soon as gift opening was finished in our home. We have looked forward to Christmas more this year than years past, I think because there is so little to look forward to in our present pandemic life. The dark, cold days and realization that I don’t have a next event to look toward hit me hard. I wasn’t expecting it.

Stack of four vanilla sables on a red cocktail napkin, surrounded by various Christmas ornaments

There is a song I have loved this holiday season by Maverick City Music called Is He Worthy. That song (but sung by a different artist) has been a favorite in our home, especially for our youngest, over the past year or two. It is based on chapter 5 of the book of Revelation in the Bible. The lyrics are rich in the goodness of Jesus. But this particular version is a medley of three worship songs that have been favorites over the years, one taking me back to high school. I could listen to it on repeat, though I won’t because I love it so much I don’t want to get sick of it. It has centered my heart and mind when I am tempted to despair in the monotony of all of us being home all the time. I highly recommend a listen… really to the entire Maverick City Christmas album.

back to the cookies…

I’ll give you these and one more tomorrow and then move on from the Christmas cookies. These vanilla sables are probably my favorite. And you can eat them any time of year. Essentially a delicious French butter cookie (so we should say sah-bleh), they remind me of those cookies you used to buy in the round tins with about 5 different varieties. I always loved the pretzel shaped ones with the sugar on top when I was little. Is this ringing a bell…? Anyway, these cookies remind me of those, but better. You could add orange or lemon zest or other flavors, but I wouldn’t. The vanilla sables are perfect just as they are.

Stack of seven vanilla sable cookies tied up in red and white string. Around the cookies are various holiday wrapping items and nativity nesting dolls

Vanilla Sables

Course Cookies, Dessert
Yield 36 cookies


For the cookie dough

  • 16 tbsp (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 vanilla beans, split lengthwise* (see note below)
  • 2/3 cup vanilla sugar** (see note below)
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • cups all-purpose flour or gluten-free flour*** (see note below)
  • ½ tsp salt

For the dough roll edging:

  • 1 large egg white mixed with 1 tbsp water
  • 1/2 cup coarse turbinado sugar or sanding sugar for coating


  1. In the bowl of a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine butter, vanilla bean seeds scraped from the vanilla bean pods, and sugar. Beat on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add the egg yolks one at time and the vanilla, mixing after each addition. Turn the mixer to low, and slowly add the flour and salt, mixing until fully incorporated.

  2. Turn the dough out onto a piece of parchment paper. Using your hands, roll the dough into a log about 1½-1¾ inches in diameter. Wrap the parchment paper tightly around the log, twisting the ends inward to seal. Place the log in the freezer and chill until very firm (2-3 hours).

  3. When you are ready to slice and bake, remove cookie dough from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes. Position oven racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven, and preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Using a fork, whisk the egg white and water. Sprinkle about 1/2 cup turbinado sugar on the parchment paper along the side of the dough log, but not touching. Brush the dough lightly with the egg wash, then roll the log in the sugar until all sides are coated. Using a sharp knife, slice each cookie into rounds about ⅜-inches thick. Place the sliced cookies on the prepared baking sheets, leaving at least 1-inch between each round.

  4. Bake the cookies, rotating and swapping the baking sheets halfway through, until the cookies begin to brown around the edges and are completely set. 14-16 minutes total. Let cool on the sheets for 5 minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack until they cool completely. (These are not the kind of cookie to eat warm… make sure to let them cool and so that the texture sets). Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 1 week.


*Vanilla and vanilla beans at the grocery store are so expensive. Costco has the best in-store price I’ve come across, though I recommend ordering vanilla beans online – you can get 10 for the price of 2 at the store. Just do a little research and read reviews first. Use Grade A when you use the seeds in a recipe, Grade B for making extracts. Also, I came across vanilla bean powder a few years ago when I did the Whole30. I use it in a pinch when something calls for vanilla beans and I don’t have any on hand. It is less flavorful since it is the whole bean ground into a powder, not just the seeds.

** To make vanilla sugar, slice vanilla beans lengthwise and scrape out the seeds for later use. Add the empty pods to an airtight container with sugar for at least two days (or an indefinite period of time). If you’re making these cookies right now and don’t have a few days, regular sugar works just fine. This last time I baked these cookies, I forgot about the vanilla sugar. Guess what? They were still delicious.

***When baking with gluten-free all-purpose flour, I prefer to use Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 Baking Flour. I get much better results with that than King Arthur’s GF flour or any others I have tried.

Source: Everyday Annie

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