Thursday, December 3, 2015

Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies with Gianduja Filling #BornOnTheFarm

I'm the first to admit that I'm a 150% choco-holic. Vanilla anything has never been my speed - give me coffee, cherry, caramel or lemon flavours... just not plain-jane, pale vanilla. I'd leave the vanilla half of the Girl Guide cookie box, white birthday cake, soft serve ice cream and white chocolate truffles untouched as a kid - passing up their plain, saccharine flavour for richer, tangy or bitter ingredients like espresso, lemon, cherry or bittersweet chocolate. Vanilla, to me, was my dad's flavour. Chocolate belonged to me.

Over the years, though, I've developed an understanding with the "whitewashed" flavour. Part of this was realizing that the floral notes of vanilla were actually delicious when paired with those tangy or otherwise full-bodied bases I'm drawn to - things like yoghurt, sour cherry, apples, coffee and hot cocoa. The clincher was actually tasting what real vanilla was like. Not vanillin, not "vanilla flavouring" or "essence", but true, honest to goodness pods. Plump with seeds and bursting with aroma that infuses everything it touches, it's a whole other world. Now I make my own (high proof) extract with "de-seeded" beans, supplement my stash with vanilla bean paste and double-strength vanilla extract and add dashes of either coarse or fine vanilla sugar to what would normally be simply "white" bakes. I've never looked back.

Giandujia filled #vanilla bean #cookies made with Gay Lea's new Smooth Cottage Cheese.  #yum #food #cooking #baked #chocolate #foodie #dessert

So in the spirit of "making peace" in every way we can this time of year, I created what I think is a perfect marriage of opposites. On one hand, I poured a ton of vanilla bean flavour into these tender slice-and-bake cookies - vanilla sugar, vanilla seeds, vanilla extract and a new find for me - creamy, melt-in-your-mouth decadent Nordica Smooth Vanilla Bean Cottage Cheese. I was generously given a voucher from the folks at Gay Lea (AKA my family's "butter suppliers" every Holiday cookie season), and when I found the Vanilla Bean flavour alongside the Lemon and Caramel packs at my local store I was immediately inspired to bake with it! I based this recipe off of the ricotta cookies I made earlier (Caramel-Almond Latte Ricotta Cookies and Ricotta Cookies with Peanut-Nutella Swirl) but without a baked-in filling. Instead, a scoop of homemade Gianduja Crème Filling between baked rounds fit the bill perfectly, and added a rich nutty, slightly bittersweet element and colour contrast that made for a striking cookie plate addition.

About Nordica Smooth Cottage Cheese (from Gay Lea): 

Canadians love to snack and are always looking for healthy snacking options. In fact, 33% of consumers are snacking on healthier foods this year compared to last. Gay Lea has introduced the perfect, protein packed snack to help get through that afternoon slump – Nordica Smooth Cottage Cheese.

Nordica Smooth Cottage Cheese comes in three delicious flavours – Salted Caramel, Lemon and Vanilla Bean. You can enjoy all the benefits of cottage cheese without the lumpy texture, including:

• 10 grams of protein per serving
• Only 110 calories
• 15% of your recommended daily intake of calcium
• Gluten-free
• Unimaginably smooth, delicious taste
• Can be enjoyed on its own or as a part of your favourite smoothie

Ingredients: milk ingredients, milk protein, sugar, water, rice starch, natural flavor, vanilla bean, guar gum, xanthan gum, carrageenan, locust bean gum, lemon juice concentrate, active bacterial cultures, microbial enzyme

MSRP: $3.99-$4.99 (4 x 100g cups)

Available at: Metro, Food Basics, Sobeys, FreshCo, Foodland, Loblaws, Zehrs, Your Independent Grocer, Real Canadian Superstore, Longo’s, Farm Boy, Coppa, Highland Farms, Vince’s and more.

Whether you crave a sweet treat or need a punch of protein in your day, Gay Lea knows that cottage cheese is not your usual choice – until now. It only takes one tiny taste to change everything you know about cottage cheese. By smoothing out the lumpy texture, this new innovation is like nothing you’ve tried before!

Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies with Gianduja Filling
Makes 12 sandwich cookies
¼ cup non-hydrogenated shortening
½ cup fine-ground vanilla sugar (+ ¼ cup extra if cheese is unsweetened)
1 ½ tbsp ground chia seeds mixed with ¼ cup warm water
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract (highly recommend homemade or double-strength vanilla extract)
seeds from 1 vanilla bean (add the pod to a jar of sugar or ground coffee!)
200 g smooth cottage cheese (I used Nordica Smooth Vanilla Bean)
1 cup flour
1 cup oat flour
½ tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
12 tbsp Gianduja Crème Filling
  1. In a bowl, beat together shortening and sugar until light.
  2. Add chia mixture, vanilla extract, vanilla seeds and cheese, beating until smooth.
  3. Stir in flours, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined.
  4. Roll half the dough into a cylinder, then wrap in plastic or waxed paper, then in foil.
  5. Place on a baking sheet (I actually sit mine in halved cardboard tubes on the sheet to keep them round) and freeze at least 2 hours, or until needed.
  6. Repeat with remaining dough.
  7. After dough has chilled, heat the oven to 350°F and line cookie sheets with parchment.
  8. Slice cookie log into 24 cookies and place 1″ apart on cookie sheets.
  9. Bake for 10-12 minutes.
  10. Carefully transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
  11. Turn half of the cookies over so their bottoms face upwards.
  12. Scoop 1 tablespoon of the Gianduja Crème Filling onto each upturned half and top with remaining cookies (right side up).
  13. Ideally, chill these 1 hour to firm up before serving.
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 231.8
Total Fat: 10.0 g
Cholesterol: 6.6 mg
Sodium: 8.1 mg
Total Carbs: 30.6 g
Dietary Fiber: 2.6 g
Protein: 5.1 g