Remember vanilla wafers from when you were a kid? They were perfectly bite-sized and crispy, and golden. They were this heavenly balance between a sugar cookie and a shortbread cookie. At least that’s how I thought of them. They were my favorites! My mom used them as ingredients in so many desserts. Encountering these tasty little treats as an adult led me to realize just how much excess crap get put into vanilla wafers. Like most things you can find in the cookie aisle of your local grocery store, these cookies are pumped full of preservatives and dyes and unnecessary chemicals. I don’t know about you, but that kinda grosses me out. So I decided to make them from scratch, using ingredients I can pronounce and easily identify. And you know what? It’s not hard to do. The cookies I made tasted just as good as the ones I love as a kid.
Nilla Wafers from Scratch
1 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
4 Tbsp melted butter, cooled)
2 egg yolks
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Whisk together the vanilla, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a large bowl until they’re well combined. Add the melted butter and whisk until everything is smooth.
Add the egg yolks and whisk until everything is combined and you can’t see any clumps of egg. You want to make sure the butter you use isn’t too hot or you’ll end up with scrambled egg in your cookie and nobody wants that.
Add the flour and stir with a wooden spoon until there are no dry spots left. The dough will stiffen up as everything comes together.
Roll the dough into teaspoon-sized balls and flatten slightly onto a cookie sheet lined with foil of parchment paper. Obviously, you can make these bigger, but a teaspoon measure will give you cookies that are the same size as the store-bought.
Bake your cookies for about 12 minutes, until they start to turn golden-brown around the edges. I rotate the pan after about 6 minutes to make sure everything gets baked evenly. You can let you nilla wafers cool in the pan. They’ll harden up as they cool and you’ll get that nice airy, crispy texture that the store-bought cookies have.
You can eat these by themselves, or use them in various desserts. I love using them in banana pudding. Like I said, they taste just like the vanilla wafers you can buy at the store, only without all the weird added chemicals and preservatives.