I'm amazed at how superior your vanilla is!
- Des, The Grommet
I opened the bottle of your vanilla extract last weekend to bake some cookies and the difference in taste is extraordinary." – Judy

Grismelli – Vanilla Scented Cornmeal Cookies

Grismelli-Cookies

Years ago Earl Darny was the pastry chef at Bay Wolf Restaurant in Oakland, one of my favorites in an area filled with amazing restaurants. Earl gave me this recipe saying, “This is one of my favorite cookies.” He later went on to open his own bakery.

I finally made them for the first time this afternoon; they’re fairly addictive.

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Chocolate Peppermint Meringues

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 A great way to use up leftover egg whites, especially during the holiday season. If you have leftover candy canes or peppermint candies, use them. However, if you are making these cookies during the Christmas season, look for the miniature candy canes. They have the most pink surface area. The color contrasts well with the white of the meringues.

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Salty and Sweet Butterscotch Cookies

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Salty and sweet — two all-time favorites — especially when it’s for dessert. And, who doesn’t love the flavor of butterscotch? This is a great cookie recipe for a group of kids, especially after a sports event or after lunch on an all-day outing. These cookies are also idea for turning into ice cream sandwiches. Turkish Coffee and Pumpkin ice creams come to mind and vanilla always works. If salty isn’t your ideal of delicious, feel free to leave it out of the equation.

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Maple Vanilla Pecan Shortbread

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My great aunt Oolie McGoogan, made a simple, delicious shortbread that she learned from her husband Angus’ family. Shortbread was always butter, flour, yellow sugar and a pinch of salt. The trick to the success of her shortbread was to knead it for at least 20 minutes. After it was cut into fingers and baked, it was supposed to rest for at least a week before serving. You didn’t mess with it, and we all got a tin of her shortbread for the holidays.  How times have changed!

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Almond Sables

Courtesy of Alice Medrich, Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-In-Your-Mouth Cookies

Alice Medrich is perhaps best known as the woman who introduced the mouth-melting traditional chocolate truffles from Paris to the American home cooks and bakers. She also had Cocolat, an exceptional bakery in Berkeley for a number of years, and has since written numerous dessert cookbooks including the aforementioned Chewy, Gooey, Crispy, Crunchy, Melt-in-Your Mouth Cookies. She is truly a California icon for her culinary contributions.

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Caramel Apple Bars

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Served warm, topped with ice-cream after dinner or for breakfast on a crisp fall day, Caramel Apple Bars are a comforting treat any way you slice them. Perfect for an autumn picnic, these are like a bite of fresh apple pie, conveniently packaged as a cookie bar. If you like caramel and apples, you’ll be sure to love these Caramel Apple Bars.

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Pecan Sandies

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What’s not to like about freshly baked cookies!  Some cookies lose their edge fairly quickly, and are best devoured within a day or two.

Anything based on shortbread, however, ages very nicely.  I learned this at an early age as my great aunt, Oolie MacGugan (yep, that was her real name), made traditional Scottish shortbread, which was cut in simple rectangular bars and aged for a couple of weeks before it was served.

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Franco-American Macaroons

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Courtesy of Didi Davis: www.dididavisfood.com

These cookies are a combination of the French style macaroon, made with ground almonds, and the American style macaroon, made with coconut. I’ve changed the nut to pecans, which are a dreamy combination with vanilla and coconut. The flavors grow in your mouth and linger pleasingly for a long time.

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Churros

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If you have never had real churros, you are in for a treat!  First, lightly sweetened fried dough is hard to beat as long as it’s prepared properly.  However, what should be a delicate treat can easily become a sodden, greasy, unpalatable mess.  And, if it is held under a heat lamp for very long, it can become tough.  So, that’s why I say, real churros.

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For an update on the 2016 vanilla shortage, please see "Why is Vanilla so Expensive?"

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