vanilla-wafers-1

Remember this morning when we were talking about Banana Pudding Ice Cream?

I totally forgot to mention the homemade vanilla wafers.

A few weeks ago, I was talking to someone who mentioned how she’d never dream of putting Nilla® Wafers in her banana pudding. She always made her own. I’d never given them much thought, but she was so passionate about it, I had to taste the difference.

It’s a good thing she wasn’t talking about meth.

There’s nothing difficult about making your own vanilla wafers. You probably have the ingredients: butter, sugar, salt, eggs, vanilla and flour. Just roll the dough into logs, chill, slice and bake. When the cookies come out of the oven, they’ll still be light on top, but their edges and bottoms will be golden, which is why, in the year 2035, they’ll be known as “Goldbottoms.”

So, how do they taste?

They remind me of miniature sugar cookies. Fresh and sweet, with nothing to distract you from that true vanilla flavor. The cookies are so dense that the pieces inside my Banana Pudding Ice Cream are still crunchy days after making it, which is a nice surprise.

Why did I test them in an ice cream instead of the real deal? Because when it comes to old-fashioned comfort foods, most people want what they’ve always had, and some, like my father, live for the texture of a Nilla® Wafer that’s gone soft in a sea of banana pudding. That’s why there will always be a place in my mother’s pantry for a box of Nilla® Wafers.

But, seriously, these are better.

Vanilla Wafers

Adapted from “Williams-Sonoma Essentials of Baking”

Makes about 65 cookies

  • 1 cup (8 ounces/250 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces/125 grams) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (10 ounces/315 grams) all-purpose flour
  1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the butter, sugar and salt. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add the egg yolks and vanilla, and beat on low speed until blended. Add the flour, and mix until incorporated and a smooth dough forms.
  2. Divide the dough into 4 portions. Roll each portion into a log 7 inches long and about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap the logs in plastic wrap, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.
  3. Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line 3 baking sheets with parchment paper.
  4. Using a sharp knife, cut each unwrapped log crosswise into slices 1/4 inch thick. Place the cookies 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets.
  5. Bake the cookies, 1 sheet at a time, until the edges and bottoms are golden, 12-15 minutes. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer them to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Note: You can tightly wrap the logs and freeze them for up to 2 months. Thaw them, still wrapped, in the refrigerator overnight.