I like to keep the spice cabinet open while I cook dinner so I don't forget that I have a whole mess of things that can make my meals more interesting, but it's a dangerous mess in there. Every time I add something new I vow to clean and organize the damn thing. Maybe 2012 will be the year I do it; especially after the little episode that led to the making of these cookies. Let's just say the spice cabinet is above the sink, I pulled something out, turned away, and when I turned back there was an entire container of saffron floating in a bowl of (clean) water. Cue sad trombone. I fished out as much as I could with a tea strainer, switched gears and got to work making a very saffron heavy meal. Lemonade out of lemons, right? These cookies were inspired by the legendary Saffron Snickerdoodles sold by Blue Bottle Coffee Co., but as I was putting them in the oven I realized a handful of things that I should have done to make a more accurate representation. That said, these aren't much like the cookies from Blue Bottle, but they have crispy edges, soft centers and a really pleasing complex flavor.
Saffron Vanilla Sugar Cookies
2 3/4c flour
2t cream of tartar
3/4t baking soda
8oz softened butter
1 1/2c plus 1/4c sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
large pinch saffron threads
1. Sift together the flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt.
2. In a mortar and pestle, grind the saffron into a powder with a small pinch of sugar.
3. Add the saffron and vanilla bean seeds to the sugar and rub the mixture together with your fingers to distribute the seeds evenly.
4. Cream the sugar with the softened butter until very light and fluffy, about 5min. Add the eggs, one at a time, then slowly add in the flour mixture.
5. Form the cookies into 2T sized balls, place on a baking sheet in a single layer, cover and chill overnight. You can bake the cookies immediately if you like, but I find the cookies spread less after a night in the fridge which helps them have crisp edges and thick, soft middles.
6. When you are ready to bake, heat your oven to 400º. Roll the cookie balls in the remaining 1/4c sugar (vanilla sugar if you have it) and place them 2'' apart on a lined baking sheet and bake for 10-12min, rotating half way through the baking time. When they are done they will be very light golden on the edges.
-My mom informed me that you shouldn't consume too much saffron at one sitting because it slows your heart rate, we all survived this time...
-Rumor has it that the Blue Bottle Cookbook will be out in 2012
-If you can't commit to using saffron in cookies (I understand) these cookies are a great base to add other flavors, try some citrus zest or spices.
-I might attempt these cookies again, using a different base recipe. I'll post my findings on the end of this one.