This Cookie Dough Really Stinks: Vanilla Dreams

A few days ago, Louise left a comment on my recent post about my Biscoff v. Speculaas tasteoff, mentioning that baker's ammonia might be the secret to getting the supercrisp texture of a real Biscoff.  I have previously noticed that King Arthur Flour offers baker's ammonia as a leavener to make "extra-crisp cookies or crackers," but I have never tried using it before.  As it happens, King Arthur had baker's ammonia on sale and eligible for free shipping earlier this week, so I ordered some.  When it arrived, I decided to make a recipe from King Arthur recommended by Louise -- Vanilla Dreams

The folks at King Arthur describe this cookie as having an "ultra-tender, extra-crunchy texture" that is "unlike anything you can get using baking powder or baking soda."  The dough is a snap to make (you can see step-by-step photos on the King Arthur Bakers' Banter Blog, here).  The first step is to mix the baker's ammonia (ammonium carbonate powder that has a strong ammonia smell; the ammonia odor is imparted to the raw batter but not detectable in the final baked product) and salt together with vanilla to dissolve the ammonia.  After that, you just mix the vanilla mixture with butter and sugar, and then incorporate flour.  You can use the dough immediately -- just scoop it out, flatten, and bake.  

I used a #40 scoop (if you read through all of the comments on the Bakers' Banter Blog, PJ Hamel at King Arthur says this is the size she used), and got 20 cookies from one batch of dough.  The dough spread quite a bit in the oven to create large cookies about 3.5 inches in diameter.  My baked cookies were perfectly round, very pale, and quite boring looking -- I didn't have anything to use to imprint a spiral or other design, so they were completely plain.  I decided that I had to take the extra steps of adding a chocolate coating and nuts to make them a bit more presentable.  I used pistachios, since I thought the green color would be pretty, and because I'm still working my way through my pistachio backlog

I was very pleased with the way the finished cookies looked; I served them pistachio-side up.  The texture truly is unlike anything I've ever baked before, very crisp and airy.  My first reaction was that these cookies taste like something from Pepperidge Farm, and given that I find Milano and Brussels cookies completely addictive, that is high praise.  While these cookies were fine plain, I liked them much better with the chocolate and nuts added.  Delicious!

I'm a believer.  Baker's ammonia is some pretty amazing stuff -- it makes your raw cookie dough smell like window cleaner, but it gives them such an amazing texture.  I'm looking forward to see what other wonders I can bake up with this magic leavener!

Recipe: "Vanilla Dreams" from King Arthur Flour.


Louise said…
I'm so glad you tried them as the result is unlike anything else. Now you know why I said it has to gas off.
Katie said…
Your first picture really reminded me of a Pepperidge farm cookie too. I'd never heard of the baker's ammonia before. What a neat idea!