Some people are simply naturally gifted at the science-meets-art of baking. Others toil through pastry school. Whichever category you fall into, your latest book of advanced projects is The Artful Baker, by Istanbul-based recipe developer and blogger Cenk Sönmezsoy. These vanilla bean meltaways are true to their name — see for yourself!
This is my version of the beloved Turkish cookie, un kurabiyesi (literally, “flour cookie”). A dough that barely comes together is the key to its tender texture. The classic version is made by rolling the dough into a log, embossing the top with the tines of a fork, then cutting it into diamond shapes before baking. I prefer to cut fairly thick rounds so that they don’t dry out before turning a nice golden color at the edges.
A close friend of mine who was visiting the day I tested this recipe ate half a dozen of them, then asked me to pack a few for a friend he was meeting later. A couple of hours later, my phone rang. His friend was ecstatic: “That smell, that crumb! Two teas later and I can still taste them.” It’s the vanilla bean.
Storage: The cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
- 17 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
- 2/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons confectioners' sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
For the cookies
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, 2/3 cup of the sugar, and the vanilla seeds at the lowest speed just until the sugar is incorporated. Raise the speed to medium-high and beat until creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the flour, cornstarch, and salt. Beat at the lowest speed until coarse crumbs form. Remove the bowl from the mixer and press the dough into a ball with your hands.
Roll out the dough between two large sheets of parchment paper into a round about 9 inches in diameter and 5⁄8 inch thick, occasionally flipping the dough with the parchment, then lifting and smoothing the parchment to avoid creases.
Transfer the dough and parchment to a baking sheet and chill until firm, at least 2 hours in the refrigerator or about 25 minutes in the freezer.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the chilled dough on a flat surface and peel off the top parchment. Using a 1 1/2-inch fluted round cookie cutter, cut out as many cookies as you can and transfer them to the prepared baking sheet. Gather the scraps into a ball, roll the dough out again between the parchment sheets, and continue to cut out cookies until you run out of dough. Freeze the cookies, uncovered, until firm, 10 to 15 minutes. (Once they are firm, you can wrap them airtight and refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 2 months. No need to thaw, though you may need to add a couple of minutes to the baking time.)
Meanwhile, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange as many cookies as you can fit on the prepared baking sheet, leaving about 1 1/4 inches all around them. Keep the rest of the unbaked cookies in the refrigerator.
Bake until the edges of the cookies are golden, 33 to 35 minutes. Set the sheet on a wire rack to cool for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies directly onto the rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookies.
Put the remaining 2 tablespoons of sugar in a fine-mesh shaker and dust the tops and sides of the cookies.