Vanilla Dreams

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Recipe photo
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 4 dozen cookies

Recipe photo

The ultra-tender, extra-crunchy texture of these cookies is unlike anything you can get using baking powder or baking soda. The secret? Baker's ammonia, a.k.a. ammonium carbonate; possibly available at your local pharmacy, and certainly available here at King Arthur Flour. Can these cookies be made without baker's ammonia? Sure; just substitute baking powder. Just be aware their texture won't reflect what we've just described.

Read our blog about these cookies, with additional photos, at flourish.

Vanilla Dreams

star rating (52) rate this recipe »
Hands-on time:
Baking time:
Total time:
Yield: 4 dozen cookies
Published: 01/01/2010



  • 2 to 3 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon baker's ammonia or 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 to 1 teaspoon salt*
  • 1 1/4 cups sugar
  • 1 cup unsalted butter
  • 2 cups King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
  • coarse or granulated sugar for topping, optional
  • *If you enjoy the "salty-sweet" combination, use the greater amount of salt. If you'd prefer the salt less prominent, use the lesser amount.

Chocolate dip

  • 1 cup diced pecans or walnuts, crushed
  • 1 cup chocolate chips
  • 1 ½ tablespoons vegetable oil

Tips from our bakers

  • Want to substitute salted butter for unsalted? Reduce the salt in the recipe to 1/2 teaspoon.


Preheat the oven to 300°F. Lightly grease (or line with parchment) two baking sheets.

1) Combine the vanilla, baker's ammonia, and salt in a very small bowl. Stir to dissolve the ammonia; the salt won't fully dissolve. Combine the vanilla mixture with the butter and sugar, and beat till smooth.

2) Mix in the flour; the mixture will seem quite dry at first.

3) Continue beating until the dough comes together.

4) Break off pieces of dough about the size of a shelled chestnut (about 1/2 ounce); a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Roll the pieces into balls. Space them no the prepared baking sheets, leaving 1 1/2" between them.

5) For somewhat sweeter cookies with the added crunch of sugar topping, roll them in coarse or granulated sugar before placing them on the baking sheets.

6) Use the bottom of a glass, dipped in sugar if necessary to prevent sticking, to flatten the balls to about 3/8" thick. If you have it, use the end of the food pusher from a food processor; many of these have a circular, ridged pattern on their end, which imprints the cookies with a nice design.

7) Bake the cookies until they're a very light golden brown around the edges, about 25 minutes.

8) Remove them from the oven, and transfer them to a rack to cool.

9) To dip cookies: Crush the pecans finely, either by putting them in a zip-top plastic bag and pounding, or in a food processor.

10) Combine the chocolate chips and vegetable oil in a microwave-safe cup. Microwave till the chocolate softens, then stir till it melts completely.

11) Use a pastry brush to pain the bottom of each cookie with chocolate.

12) Dip in the crushed nuts.

13) Place cookies, chocolate-side up, on a piece of parchment or cookie sheet to set.

Yield: about 4 dozen cookies.


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  • star rating 01/21/2015
  • Linda from Sometimes Vermont, sometimes California
  • I prefer my Swedish version: 7 tblsp butter plus 1/3 cup oil; 2 tsp vanilla sugar instead of 1 tsp vanilla, 1 tsp ammonium carbonate (hornsalt), 1 2/3 cups flour; no salt. I don't squish the balls, but decorate the tops with almonds. Guests say they are like crunchy butter melting in your mouth. It's such fun to watch people taste them for the first time and watch their eyes pop open! I may need to try this one! Laurie@KAf
  • star rating 12/16/2014
  • Carol from Vandalia, OH
  • More feedback from my 9/15 comment. I now roll the vanilla cookies between two sheets of parchment paper, cut with cookie cutters and sprinkle with colored sugars. Rolling them in sugar and pressing them with a glass dipped in sugar (as suggested in the cookbook) made them far too sugary and sweet. Whenever I have taken them to an event, people just love them.
  • star rating 12/14/2014
  • Boilerbaker1 from KAF Community
  • I purchased the baker's ammonia for the chocolate dream cookies, but I thought this variation would be good for bringing Christmas cookies rolled in colored sugar to holiday events. They were so easy to make, but I have to say that we much prefer the chocolate variation. This recipe was too sweet rolled in the sugar, but they did look nice and were consumed. I used good butter in the cookies and was disappointed that the butter flavor was not noticeable. It is still a good crisp cookie. Oh, I keep my baker's ammonia bottle in a small sealed plastic bag to contain the odor. Otherwise, no problem with it mixing it or baking the cookies.
  • star rating 10/14/2014
  • erinhibshman from KAF Community
  • So simple, pure, and delicious! The baker's ammonia really raises a delicious shortbread cookie into something crisp and outstanding. It is definitely worth the extra effort to get that ingredient. I did not make these with the chocolate coating, but instead used your recipe for caramel sauce and dipped the cookies in that -- decadent!!
  • star rating 09/15/2014
  • Carol from Vandalia, OH
  • I have the cookbook and tried them after I saw bakers ammonia in a bulk foods shop. Wow! They were delicious. I think I will try and roll them next time and cut with a pizza cutter to save time. Don't make them if you don't have will power, as my daughter in law said "They are addicting"
  • star rating 11/23/2013
  • Margaretann from Schenectady, New York
  • Delicious - easy to make cookie
  • star rating 11/12/2013
  • nbc from massachusetts
  • I use a disk from my cookie press to flatten the dough balls. Swirl, flower, wreath, and tree designs make the prettiest patterns. This recipe, both the chocolate and vanilla versions, are excellent.
  • star rating 04/05/2013
  • beekeeper from Oregon
  • Everyone in my family loves these. I use the full Tbs. of vanilla. They are wonderfully crispy and melt in your mouth. They are also nice since they are unusual.
  • star rating 12/19/2012
  • mainegirlfriday from Bangor, Maine
  • If you like a crunchy cookie, this is for you! I found the ammonia by chance at the local cake supply shop, and I have the KAF All-Purpose Cookbook from the local library, which is why I knew what the ammonia was/was for. this is EASY to mix, though squishing the dough flat takes a little patience. cooked in about 15 minutes, rather than the 30 the cookbook suggested. I then found the choco dreams and eggnog cookies on the website to try more recipes w/ammonia. the texture & flavor is excellent. taking them to cookie Sunday at church!
  • star rating 04/04/2012
  • Mkanders1 from KAF Community
  • My grandson has an egg allergy, so these cookies are great! Cut them out with an egg-shaped cookie cutter for his Easter basket. The adults loved the chocolate dipped ones, especially the sweet/salty combo.
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