My recipe calls for just a bit of honey, not for its taste, but for its browning properties. Honey lends baked goods a deeper golden color, which is really helpful for giving these cookies the hue that their official counterparts gain from dye. Choose a mild, generic grocery store honey that doesn't have much flavor to impart in the first place. I can't believe I just said that...
The real trick to getting a perfect Nilla Wafer texture lies in steaming the cookies (heretofore known as the Soft Batch Method). This just involves storing the cookies in an airtight container while still warm. The residual heat and moisture trapped inside softens the cookies ever so slightly, by no means to the extent of the Soft Batch, and gives them that toothsome cookie/cake texture. Of course, if you'd prefer a crisper wafer, let them cool before storing.
Note: All measurements are in weights, as volume measures can be very imprecise. I strongly recommend using a scale for all pastry projects. Serious Eats' recommended kitchen scale is the Oxo Good Grips Scale with Pull Out Display.
- 8 ounces flour
- 4 ounces unsalted butter
- 3 1/2 ounces sugar
- 1 ounce honey
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 ounce vanilla extract
- 4 egg yolks
- 3 ounces cream, plus extra for washing
Make the cookie batter:
Preheat the oven to 325°F and line two cookie sheets with parchment, set aside.
Sift the flour in a sieve.
With a hand or stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), cream together the butter, sugar, honey, baking soda, salt and vanilla extract. Cream for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. About halfway through the mixing, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula.
After 5 minutes, with the mixer still running, add the eggs yolks, one at a time. Let each addition fully incorporate before adding the next.
Turn the mixer to low and add in the flour all at once. While it is mixing, drizzle in the cream. Continue mixing until homogenous. Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to a piping bag, fitted with a 1/2" plain tip.
Pipe and bake the cookies:
Pipe the cookies into 1" wide rounds on the prepared cookie sheets. Don't worry if they have little peaks, you'll fix those later. Just try to keep the cookies all roughly the same size to ensure even baking.
Once all of the cookies have been piped, brush each one lightly with a pastry brush dipped in cream. You're not looking to coat the cookies, but to smooth the peaks down and give them an even, smooth surface texture.
Once the cookies have been brushed, bake approximately 18 minutes or until the cookies are firm to the touch and golden brown. To make perfectly round wafers, use a 1 1/2" cookie cutter to trim each cookie before they cool.
Transfer the cookies, while still slightly warm, to an airtight container and seal. This will slightly steam the cookies and give them that less than crisp Nilla texture. If you prefer a crisper wafer, allow the cookies to cool completely before storing.
The cookies will keep, at room temperature, for several weeks.
pastry bag, 1/2" piping tip