Easter Egg Hunt Cake

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster is coming up this weekend! I grew up celebrating in style–a week full of church, family brunch at The Fort Worth Club, and a HUGE egg hunt on a friend’s grandparents’ property. As far as I can tell after nearly ten years (!) in New York, Easter is not a big holiday here. I see a few families in their Easter best, but other than that, it’s just like any other Sunday. That said, just because I’m not planning to wear any pastels or attend any holiday brunches, there’s no reason I can’t celebrate with this adorable, surprise-candy-filled Easter Egg Hunt Cake!

Easter Egg Hunt CakeY’all. Y’ALL. This might be the most sickeningly cute thing I’ve ever made. I had the idea when I saw this PiΓ±ata Cake on Sally’s Baking Addiction, and I’ve been hellbent on making this Easter Egg Hunt Cake ever since. From the outside it looks springlike and holiday appropriate (hey there, sweetened flaked coconut!), but then you slice in to find a veritable treasure trove of Easter egg-shaped candy! Seriously, y’all. How cute is this Easter candy avalanche?!

Easter Egg Hunt CakeNow, before you go clicking away, thinking that this cake is too much for you to handle, hear me out:

  1. If I can make this cake, anyone can. I can frost a cake, but my decorating skills leave something to be desired. If you can use an offset icing knife, you can decorate this cake!
  2. Hiding the candy in this cake is waaaaay easier than you’d imagine. 
  3. Easter Egg Hunt Cake is made with my tried-and-true Vanilla Layer Cake* recipe. That cake and its corresponding buttercream frosting are my two most-requested recipes, and for good reason. They’re simple to put together and sooo good.

*Please forgive those horrendous photos–I’ll be updating them soon.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAre you still reading? I hope so.

Let’s talk cake construction. First and foremost, bake and cool four 9-inch round cake layers and whip together a double batch of (dyed-green) vanilla buttercream frosting. Yes, four layers (1.5 times my standard recipe) and a double the usual amount of frosting. This cake is huge–gotta have plenty of space for all that Easter candy!

First, place a layer of cake on a serving plate and frost the top of it, just like you would for any layer cake. Then (and this is where it gets weird), use a large round cutter to remove the centers of two of your layers. Save those centers for another task, like making a mini-layer cake or a trifle.

Place one of the cut-out layers on the frosted base layer. Top it with a layer of buttercream and the second cut-out layer. Frost that one too.Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeSee that hole? Fill it with any egg-shaped Easter candy you like! I used Reeses Pieces Eggs, but you could use chocolate eggs or even jelly beans. I also added some little bunny & carrot-shaped sprinkles, because sprinkles are my love language.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, you should have one intact cake layer left. Use it to top the other layers, and then frost the tallest layer cake you’ve ever seen.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeTo decorate, press dyed-green flaked coconut into the frosting, and then arrange some Easter candy on top. I found this easiest to do by piping little blobs of frosting over the coconut and sticking the candies to them.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeAt this point, this cake will look like any old layer cake. Sure, it’s a huge one that’s clearly decorated for Easter, but nobody will suspect the surprise inside. And you, being cool as a freaking cucumber, will act like it’s any old vanilla cake.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeBut then, you’ll start to slice the thing…

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeWhat’s that?! A layer cake full of candy Easter eggs?! How clever of you, you beautiful, talented, homebaking human, you.

Easter Egg Hunt CakeEaster Egg Hunt CakeLooking for more Easter-appropriate desserts?
Check out these Carrot Cake Blondies, this Lemon Yogurt Cake, and my Coconut Cream Pie! Oh, and keep an eye out for another layer cake coming later this week πŸ’•πŸ£πŸ°πŸ°πŸŽ‚

Easter Egg Hunt Cake
inspired by Sally’s Baking Addiction
makes one four-layer 9-inch round cake

For greasing the pans:
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Vanilla Cake:
4 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
2 cups granulated sugar
1 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
4 large eggs + 2 large egg yolks, room temperature
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups buttermilk, room temperature

Vanilla Buttercream:
1 pound (4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
2 pounds confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
15-20 drops liquid green food coloring
5-8 tablespoons heavy cream

For Decoration:
1 14-ounce bag sweetened flaked coconut
6-8 drops liquid green food coloring
egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)

For Assembly:
2-2 1/2 cups egg-shaped Easter candies (I used Reeses Pieces Eggs)
1/2 cup sprinkles, optional

Preheat oven to 350F. Prepare the pans. In a small bowl, use a fork to whisk together greasing mixture ingredients. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture onto the entire insides of four 9-inch round cake pans. Set aside.

Make the cake batter. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, cream butter with an electric mixer until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Add eggs and egg yolks one at a time, beating completely after each addition. Beat in buttermilk. Add dry ingredients in three installments, beating just until combined. Scrape down the bowl as necessary.

Divide batter evenly into prepared pans. Tap each full pan on the counter five times to release any large air bubbles. Bake cakes 23-27 minutes, rotating top to bottom and back to front at the halfway point. Cakes are done when a toothpick inserted in the centers comes out clean. Let cakes cool in pans for fifteen minutes. Run a small thin knife around the edges of the pans and invert the cakes onto cooling racks to cool completely.

Make the frosting. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in confectioner’s sugar in three installments, scraping down the bowl as necessary. Beat in salt, followed by vanilla and food coloring. Add in heavy cream until desired consistency is reached.

Prepare the decoration. In a small mixing bowl, use a fork to combine coconut and food coloring until desired color has been reached. Set aside.

Assemble the cake. Place one round on a serving plate and top with a layer of frosting. Set aside.

Use a 4-6 inch cutter (or a wide-mouthed cup or jar) to cut the centers out of two layers. Set centers aside for another use. Place one cut-out layer on the bottom layer and top with a layer of frosting. Place the other cut-out layer on top and frost. Fill the hole in the cake layers with candies and optional sprinkles. Top with the last (fully-intact) layer of cake. Frost cake as desired. Cover with dyed green coconut. Decorate with additional Easter candies as desired.

Layer cake will keep covered at room temperature for up to three days, or in the refrigerator for up to a week.

M&Ms Sandwich Cookies

 If you haven’t noticed, I love sandwich cookies. This blog has existed for eight months, and I already have six sandwich cookie recipes in my recipe index. I mean, cookies and frosting together–does a more perfect dessert even exist?! 

Today’s sandwich cookies are my version of a favorite treat from my teenage years. Back then, I was on the high school dance team. Once classes were over for the day, I’d have thirty minutes to change and eat something before practice. Usually the whole team would go for some sort of fast food (ah, teenage metabolism), but occasionally, when everyone was attending tutorials or some other after-school program, I’d zip over to Ridgmar Mall, run to the cookie kiosk, and grab one or two (okay, okay, three!) miniature M&Ms sandwich cookies before driving back to school to dance off all the calories.

To this day, I get nostalgic for those soft cookies, M&Ms, and creamy vanilla filling. But I can’t remember the last time I was in a mall (one of the advantages of living in New York City). And as I always have fresh baked goods at home, I no longer stop for mass-produced treats. 

These days, if I want a few M&Ms Sandwich Cookies, I make them myself. They’re so much better than anything you could get at a mall. Soft, chewy cookies speckled with colorful milk chocolate M&Ms and sandwiched together with a smooth vanilla filling?! Yes. I’ll take three.

Most of my sandwich cookie recipes make five or six dozen very small cookies–far more than anyone really needs. This recipe makes a much more manageable two dozen sandwich cookies. If you’d like more, this recipe doubles very well.

Also, these cookies are slightly larger than my regular sandwich cookies. Where all of my other sandwich cookie recipes require you to scoop dough by the teaspoon, the cookies in this recipe are each made with 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) of dough. The larger scoops cut down on the time spent rolling dough and also allow for more M&Ms in every bite! 

I love working with M&Ms for holidays. There’s a perfect color combination for every occasion–red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, pastels for Easter. Since the Fourth of July is coming up next week, I went with the red, white, and blue variety for this batch! I think they’re pretty cute 😊 No matter which holiday you’re making these for (even if it’s just that it’s the end of a long week), I know these M&Ms Sandwich Cookies will be a hit!

 Want more M&Ms treats? Check out my M&Ms-Potato Chip Cookies!

M&Ms Sandwich Cookies
makes 2 dozen sandwich cookies

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar*
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup M&Ms milk chocolate candies

Filling:
1/2 cup shortening (or room temperature unsalted butter)
2 1/2-3 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1-2 tablespoons heavy cream

In a medium-large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, cream of tartar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy, about two minutes. Beat in granulated and light brown sugars, followed by egg and vanilla. Mix in dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition. With the mixer on low, add in M&Ms and mix for 10-15 seconds until they are evenly dispersed. Cover and chill dough for 90 minutes, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop chilled dough by the 1/2 tablespoon (1 1/2 teaspoons) and roll into balls. Set dough balls about two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 7-8 minutes, until the tops are no longer shiny. Let cookies cool on pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Repeat with any remaining dough.

Make the filling. In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat shortening (or butter) until fluffy. Beat in 2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt. Mix in vanilla and 1 tablespoon heavy cream. If filling is too thin, add more confectioner’s sugar. If it’s too thin, add an extra tablespoon of heavy cream. If you would like to pipe the filling, spoon it into a piping bag and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling:

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by pipe a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

M&Ms Sandwich Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Note:

There is no substitute for cream of tartar in this recipe.

Banana Pudding Cookies

 When I first started out as a New York nanny, I worked for a family that lived in East Harlem. I took care of their baby girl, whom I affectionately called “Zu” (a nickname which bears no likeness to her actual name), from the time she was nine months old to when she was two and a half. And, oh, we had so much fun together. We read a million books, danced to Mary Poppins on vinyl, and I introduced her to the Peanuts (because Snoopy rules). We blew bubbles in the backyard, gave fist-bumps and high-fives, wore silly hats, and made cakes.

Well, I made the cakes. She did a lot of stirring ☺️ The point is that it was the best job I’d ever had up to that point. From the time I arrived everyday to the time I left, we were two peas in a pod. 

But if you have children or have ever spent an extended period with anyone else’s children, you know that no matter how much fun you are having together, there comes a point where cabin fever sets in and you’d rather do anything than be in the house for two more minutes. When this happened, I’d put her in a baby carrier and we’d go find something to do. When it was nice, we’d go to the playground. When it was gross out, we’d go to Target and buy things I didn’t need. And sometimes, on very special occasions, we’d hop over to Evelyn’s Kitchen, a treasure of a bakery in East Harlem, for a treat to share. 

We always ordered the same thing, one Banana Pudding Pudgie. It’s a soft, chewy, white chocolate-studded cookie that tastes just like its namesake dessert. We’d go home and I’d cut it in quarters so she could grab them easily with her little fingers, and we’d enjoy it together before finding a new record to dance to. Those are some of my favorite memories ever. Just a simple little treat with my sweet, tiny friend.

When the time came for me to move on to a new family, I had no reason to frequent East Harlem or make trips to Evelyn’s Kitchen. This was a time when I was just getting into baking, and so I decided that I would figure out how to make Banana Pudding Pudgies at home. And it only took me fourteen months to get it right 😁😁😁 But I did, and for the last two years, whenever I get a hankering for a treat from Evelyn’s Kitchen, I save the subway fare I’d spend getting to and from East Harlem and make a batch of Banana Pudding Cookies instead. 

You guys, these cookies taste exactly like banana pudding. No, seriously. They literally taste exactly like the combination of vanilla pudding, bananas, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream that we grew up with. But they’re portable and much less messy 😊

There are a million pudding-based cookie recipes out there, but this one is different. It’s not made with instant pudding mix–I’ve found it makes these cookies dry and artificial-tasting. So, ditch the mix! Instead add the three main ingredients in instant mix (cornstarch, milk powder, and granulated sugar) individually, followed by a full tablespoon of vanilla extract to round everything out and give these cookies a classic pudding flavor. Combined with mashed ripe bananas and white chocolate chips, these cookies taste–and I can’t stress this enough–exactly like banana pudding.

My Banana Pudding Cookies are not as puffy as the cookies that inspired them, but they capture their flavor perfectly. Incredibly soft and chewy with strong banana and vanilla flavors, they’re the perfect cookies to make for cookouts or picnics, or anytime you are craving banana pudding. And if you have a sweet, tiny friend to share with, all the better. 

 Looking for more banana pudding? Check out my No-Churn Banana Pudding Ice Cream!

Banana Pudding Cookies
makes about 4 dozen cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup non-fat dry milk powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, room temperature
1 1/2 medium ripe bananas, mashed (about 1/2 cup)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, milk powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Add light brown and granulated sugars and beat until combined. Mix in egg, followed by mashed banana and vanilla. Add dry ingredients in two installments, beating until combined. Mix in white chocolate chips.

Cover dough and chill in the refrigerator for at least two hours, or up to three days.

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment.

Scoop dough by the tablespoon and roll into balls. Place dough balls at least two inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 8-10 minutes, until the edges are starting to turn golden and the tops are no longer raw looking. Let cookies cool on the pans for ten minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely. Cool baking sheets to room temperature before baking any remaining dough.

Cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake

 Everyone has their go-to dessert–that thing they make when a friend has a baby or they’re asked to bring dessert for a dinner party. For my mom, it’s angel food cake with fresh blueberries and whipped cream. For my grandmother, Mame, it was a cherry-pineapple dump cake, which she called “Simply Delicious,” because who wants to eat something called dump cake?! 

My go-to? This Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake. Now, the words “vanilla bean” and “ricotta” make it sound fancy, but it’s not–it’s basically pound cake. There’s no frosting or layering because this cake simply doesn’t need that kind of adornment. It’s easy to put together and bakes up super dense and moist, with tons of vanilla bean flavor.

For those of you who aren’t much for ricotta in other applications, you should know that I’m not either. Ricotta cheese doesn’t belong in my lasagna, on my toast, or anywhere else…except this cake. The milky flavor and grainy texture that turn me off in savory foods are what make this cake so insanely moist and delicious. The cheese melds so well into the simple batter, it’ll turn even the staunchest of ricotta-haters. If you really don’t want to use the stuff, you may substitute an equal volume of full-fat sour cream.
 This recipe makes a small loaf cake. It will not rise above the top of the pan. But what it lacks in size, it makes up for in versatility. Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake is buttery and moist with a distinct vanilla flavor. It’s the kind of cake that’s fantastic by itself with a cup of coffee or tea, but it is a wonderful base for pretty much any toppings you can think of! Mix up a quick vanilla glaze (like the one used here) and drizzle it over the top of the cooled cake before slicing. Top slices with fresh strawberries and whipped cream for a sort of makeshift strawberry shortcake. Use it in trifles or ice cream cakes. Seriously, this cake is good with just about anything. 

This weekend, I’m going to serve Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake with Blueberry Compote. I just love the look of the berries on the sliced cake, and the blueberry-lemon flavor goes so well with the vanilla bean! Make it this Memorial Day Weekend and enjoy it with your family and friends. Maybe it’ll become your go-to dessert, too 😊 

 Vanilla Bean Ricotta Cake
makes one 9×5″ loaf, about 8-12 servings

For the pan:
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon neutral-flavored oil (I like canola)

Cake:
1 1/3 cups all purpose flour
2 tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste**
4 ounces (1/2 cup) full-fat ricotta cheese, room temperature

Preheat oven to 350F. Grease the pan. Mix together flour and neutral-flavored oil. Use a pastry brush to paint mixture over the entire inside of the pan. Pour out any excess. Set aside.

Make the batter. In a small-medium mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar. Add eggs one at a time, mixing after each addition. Beat in vanilla bean paste, followed by ricotta. Add dry ingredients in two installments, combining completely after each addition.

Spread batter evenly into prepared pan. Tap full pan on the counter five times to release any air bubbles. Bake 35-40 minutes, tenting with foil if it starts to brown too quickly. Cake is done when it’s golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with only a few moist crumbs.

Let cake cool in the pan for ten minutes. Run a small, thin knife around the edge of the pan to release the cake. Invert it onto a cooling rack, and then revert. Let cool completely.

Cake will keep at room temperature for up to three days, and in the refrigerator for up to five.

Notes:


1. I use Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste.
2. If you don’t have or don’t want to use vanilla bean paste, you may use an equal volume of pure vanilla extract, or the scraped seeds of one vanilla bean + 1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.  

Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies

 Confession: I’m a vanilla person. Given the choice, I will pick vanilla over chocolate every single time. It’s not that I don’t like chocolate, it’s that I enjoy vanilla just the tiniest bit more. If you think I’ve gone and lost my mind, know that I come by it honestly.

So many people rag on vanilla, saying it’s boring. As far as I’m concerned though, when vanilla is done right, it’s anything but! In fact, my most popular cake order is this Vanilla Layer Cake. It has a little bit of a following! Oh, and these Vanilla Wafers are so good, you’ll never buy the boxed variety again. 

Long story short, I’m out to prove that vanilla is a powerhouse flavor. To make my point, I’m bringing you some fantastic sandwich cookies that are packed to the gills with vanilla bean flavor. Oh yes, these Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies are amazing! Soft, chewy vanilla bean cookies sandwiched together with the creamiest, dreamiest vanilla bean filling ever. There’s nothing plain about these little cookies! 

There’s nothing difficult about them either. The cookie dough is simple and straightforward–the hardest part is rolling 120 teaspoon-sized balls of cookie dough! And the filling is basically just a scaled down version of my go-to buttercream frosting. I use shortening in this recipe because I find it makes the filling reminiscent of Oreos, but you may substitute an equal volume of softened butter if you prefer. 

As easy as this recipe is though, there’s one thing that we need to talk about. This recipe contains one specialty ingredient: Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste. You see, as much as I love vanilla, I can rarely bring myself to purchase whole vanilla beans. At $4 a pop, I just can’t justify the cost. Vanilla bean paste is my go-to for all recipes that demand the good stuff. It’s full of vanilla bean seeds and high-quality vanilla extract, and a $14 jar lasts forever. Trust me, nobody can tell that I didn’t throw $8 worth of vanilla beans into my recipes! See all those little black specks? If I didn’t tell you directly that I didn’t scrape those from whole vanilla beans, you’d never know the difference. But if you’re feeling fancy, feel free to use the real deal.

Whether you’re into vanilla or chocolate, you’ll love these Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies! They’re anything but plain 😊 

 Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies
makes about five dozen sandwich cookies

Cookies:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher or sea salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg + 1 large egg yolk, room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste*

Filling:
1/2 cup shortening*
2 1/4-2 1/2 cups confectioner’s sugar
pinch of Kosher or sea salt
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste*

Make the cookies. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.

In a separate large mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat butter until light and fluffy. Beat in sugar, followed by egg and yolk. Mix in vanilla bean paste. Add flour mixture in two installments, mixing to combine completely. Chill dough for 90 minutes in the refrigerator.*

Preheat oven to 350F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Scoop chilled dough by the teaspoon, and roll into balls. Set dough balls 1 1/2-inches apart on prepared pans. Bake 6-8 minutes, until no longer raw looking. Let cool on the pans for five minutes before removing to a rack to cool completely.

To make the filling, place the shortening in a large mixing bowl, and beat with a hand mixer on low speed. Once it’s smooth, add in 2 1/4 cups confectioner’s sugar and salt in two installments, until smooth. Beat in heavy cream and vanilla bean paste. If you’d like the filling to be thicker, add an additional 1/4 cup of confectioner’s sugar. If you would like to pipe the filling, place it in a plastic sandwich bag, and snip off a corner.

There are two options for filling:

1. To assemble a sandwich cookie by piping, apply filling by piping a circle in the middle of the underside of one cookie, leaving about 1/4″ around the edge. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

2. To assemble a sandwich cookie by spreading, use an offset frosting knife to spread 1/2-1 teaspoon on the underside of one cookie. Top with a second plain cookie, with the underside filling-side-in. Repeat until all cookies have been used.

Vanilla Bean Sandwich Cookies keep well in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.

Notes:

1. If you do not have or do not want to use vanilla bean paste, you may use the scraped seeds of half a vanilla bean plus two teaspoons of pure vanilla extract. Alternatively, you may use one tablespoon pure vanilla extract.
2. If you do not want to use shortening, you may substitute 1/2 cup (1 stick) room temperature unsalted butter.
3. If you do not have or do not want to use vanilla bean paste, you may use the scraped seeds of half a vanilla bean plus one teaspoon of pure vanilla extract. Alternatively, you may use two teaspoons pure vanilla extract.
4. I have sped up the chilling process by throwing the dough in the freezer for fifteen minutes. The dough may need to spend five minutes at room temperature before scooping.