The Inspiration of Urb’n’Spice Series
This is a recipe that I had so much fun creating. My challenge was first, to come up with a cookie using cream cheese, and second, a cookie that could also be made gluten-free, if necessary, without any difference in appearance or quality. Cream cheese makes any baked item very tender and rich tasting, so I knew that this was going to be a good cookie. I also liked the idea of making cookies so tiny that they could be mistaken for candy drops. Eureka! Success! Everything I wanted to achieve in my little cookie challenge became a reality – my little cookies became so popular that I was confident entering my recipe into a competition for edible gifts. I call the cookies Vanilla Bean Poppers because they are delightful delicate little cookies that are so irresistible you will keep popping them in your mouth – literally!
These cookies are lots of fun to make with children. Even very young children will love helping you roll the dough into long rope-like snakes before you cut them into small pillows or balls. The little ones will love giving these cookies to their teachers. I also make tons of these teeny, tiny cookies during the holiday season and put them in pretty jars or beribboned cellophane bags to give away as hostess gifts. And, for further food fun, I made variations of the same cookies: Urb’n’Spice Rainbow Poppers and Vanilla Bean Poppers – Holiday Food Fun Version.
These little cookies won the Real Women of Philadelphia’s Edible Gift Recipe Contest. My recipe is published on Kraft Canada’s website, adapted to make a slightly larger 1/2 inch cookie. On Kraft Canada’s website, the recipe is called: Vanilla Shortbread Poppers. You will note that the baking time is longer (actually, twice as long) with the larger cookies.
URBNSPICE’S VANILLA BEAN POPPERS
CHEF TALK: The cookie dough is very easy to mix up and it is great fun to make the ropes, cut into tiny pillows and roll into balls. They can be left as little pillows as well. They bake up in a few minutes. Cool them before dredging them in icing sugar. They really are irresistible treats. The little bowl of baked poppers used in the photograph quickly disappeared before my eyes. One batch of dough makes many, many tiny cookies!
VANILLA BEAN POPPERS
- 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 4 oz. (125 g) Original Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
- 2/3 cup icing sugar, sifted
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (or gluten-free flour alternative)
- 1/4 cup cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 dash fine salt
- 2 cups icing sugar, sifted (for coating the cookies)
- Preheat the oven to 325°F.
- In a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream the butter, cream cheese and 2/3 cup icing sugar until light and combined.
- Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to combine.
- Combine the flour, cornstarch and salt together. With your mixer on low speed, add these dry ingredients to the creamed mixture and mix just until they are combined.
- Remove small pieces of dough from the mixer at a time and roll into ‘snakes’ about 1/4 to 1/2 inch in diameter. (Remember, these are tiny cookies – the tinier the better). With a sharp knife, cut the dough into 1/4 to 1/2 inch or smaller pieces. To give you an idea of the size of the balls of cookie dough when I make them, once rolled, they are about the size of this circle → Ο (or about half the size of my pinkie fingernail). So, like really tiny!
- At this point, you can leave them in the pillow shapes as they are, or you can roll them into tiny balls. (I personally like the little balls). Either way, place these tiny pieces of dough on a parchment lined baking sheet. The cookies do not spread, so you can place them fairly close together.
- Chill the tray of prepared cookie dough for a few minutes in the refrigerator. CHEF TIP: I find that most cookie doughs benefit from a chill in the refrigerator before baking. It helps the cookies to retain their shape. Try this the next time you make chocolate chip cookies.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 12 – 15 minutes, depending on the size of your tiny pillows or balls (for example, the recipe on the Kraft Canada website indicates baking for 25 to 28 minutes for 1/2 inch cookies). The bottoms of the cookies should just start to turn a very light golden. If you make the cookies into small balls, shake the baking pan a few times during the baking process keeps the cookies nice and round.
- Let the cookies cool slightly. In a medium-size bowl, place the 2 cups of icing sugar. Place the cooled cookies in the bowl and toss them to coat thoroughly with the icing sugar. CHEF TIP: Place the cookies in a sieve, and shake gently to remove the excess icing sugar.
- Place the cookies in a decorative container or jar, label and decorate with ribbon. Give them to your favourite someone.
Please CLICK the link above to access my UrbnSpice LEARNING TIPS, which are listed alphabetically on the Learning Tips blog post under the following subheadings:
- Oven Temperature Accuracy
- Vanilla Extract
Other UrbnSpice Gift Ideas:
Variations to Vanilla Bean Poppers:
Another Variation for a Rainbow Theme: UrbnSpice Rainbow Poppers
Vanilla Bean Poppers – Holiday Food Fun Version
You Might Also Enjoy:
Dee’s Old Fashioned Coconut Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Desserts Cookbook Series
As always, if you give this recipe for my Vanilla Bean Poppers a try, please come back and leave me a comment below with your feedback.
You can find me on social media – just be sure to tag @urbnspice and #urbnspice so I am sure to see it. Enjoy!
The Urbnspice Chef
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Nicoletta @sugarlovespices says
They look so cute and yummy! Their shape is something we make in Italy, too, but coated in honey. Congratulations on winning the contest!
Denise Pare-Watson says
Thank you, Nicoletta! They are great fun to make.
I’m kind of in love with these. I love baking with vanilla beans, and they’re so freaking adorable. I mean, if they’re small, I can eat 20 or 30, right?! I’m also really interested in the use of cream cheese. I’ve never used it in a cookie dough before, so I’m quite intrigued.
Denise Pare-Watson says
Oh, yes! Please try making them, Sean. It is such a fun recipe and so much fun to make – especially with the little ones. And definitely, 20 or 30 is totally ok. After all, that is why I named them poppers – lol. Let me know how you like them.
Darlene Hittel says
I finally got around to Making these little morsels. My question, can make the batter ahead of time and freeze it? Will be in K in mid December, I hope I bump into you.
Denise Pare-Watson says
I have not tried freezing the cookie dough, but I do not see that it would be a problem since they are a butter type cookie. Hope we bump into you as well when you are in town. Take care.