Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Vanilla Shortbread Sandwich Cookies

Mantyhose.  Have you heard of them?  They're becoming a thing.  "What are mantyhose?" you ask.  Pantyhose for men, silly!  Oh my goodness, Will and I could have matching tights!  Except that there's no way on God's green earth that Will would ever wear mantyhose.  If you want to see mantyhose in all their epicene glory, I direct you here.

I was so incredibly pleased with these cookies.  I simply adore shortbread cookies of any sort.  Let's be real, it's probably the butter.  These are made even better by a chocolate ganache filling.  Ganache.  It's such a fancy-sounding word for a really simple process.  These are big cookies once they're put together, so one makes a perfectly-sized dessert.
Look who remembered to photograph the butter!  So again, we have a super-simple ingredient list: butter, vanilla extract, salt, flour, and vanilla sugar.  Basically I let a vanilla bean sit in sugar for a few days to scent it.  I used the vanilla bean in the cookie as well.
Start by creaming the butter 3-4 minutes.
Add the sugar gradually and beat it with the butter for another 3-4 minutes.
 Split open half the vanilla bean lengthwise.
Use the tip of the knife to scrape out the innards, more delicately known as caviar.
Mix in the vanilla bean and just inhale the lovely vanilla fragrance.
There's nothing prettier than flecks of vanilla bean in a dough or frosting.  Or ice cream.  I think it's because it lends authenticity to the food.
Stir in a little vanilla extract for good measure.
Add the flour gradually and beat it on low speed.  I did it in 3 additions.
When the flour is just incorporated, scrape down the sides and refrigerate the dough for about 10 minutes.
Instead of flouring my work surface, I used powdered sugar.  It serves the same purpose but adds a little sweetness instead of...flouriness.  At any rate, pat or roll your dough to about 1/2" thick.
Now you can certainly use a round cookie cutter, but I thought hearts would be a pretty touch.  Even better, the size I used had pretty scalloped edges.  You want about a 2-inch cutter, whatever shape you use.  Cut out as many cookies as you can.
You can re-roll the dough once, maybe twice.  Just be really gentle with it.
So pretty!  Place the cut cookies on an ungreased cookie sheet.
Sprinkle each cookie with a little extra vanilla sugar.
Bake them until they're a little brown around the edges.  Cool about 5-8 minutes on the cookie sheet then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
While the cookies cool, make the ganache.  You need: butter, heavy cream, bittersweet chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, and a touch of sea salt.
Seriously, all you do is heat everything in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  You want to be gentle with it, but it really couldn't be easier.
Stir, stir, stir.  When only a couple of lumps remain you can take the ganache off the heat.  Keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted.
Gorgeous.  It's shiny and velvety smooth.  Let it rest at room temperature until it's about the consistency of a thick pudding.  That sounds nicer than the consistency of a hair gel, which was really my first thought.  At any rate, you want it thick enough to spread or pipe without it running all over the place but not so set that you can't work with it.
Flip over half the cookies and prepare to fill.  I used a ziploc bag to pipe it on, but you can also spread it with a knife.  To make a piping bag from a plastic baggie, spoon 1/4 cup of ganache in a corner of the bottom of the baggie and snip off the corner.  You want the hole to be about the size of a mechanical pencil eraser.
Pipe the ganache onto the cookie, leaving a little edge because it will squish outwards when you put the other cookie on top.  You can refill the baggie as needed.  And if you have extra ganache, don't even think about throwing it out!  Gently heat it a little and put it on ice cream!
Make your sandwiches!  I recommend letting them rest for an hour to give the ganache time to set.
These are kind of reminiscent of Milano cookies.  But better because you made them yourself!  And the shortbread cookie is different.  A buttery vanilla cookie and rich chocolate filling were made for each other.
You really can't resist a bite.

Vanilla Shortbread Sandwich Cookies (makes 10-12 assembled cookies)

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
1 c unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 c vanilla sugar, plus more for sprinkling (regular sugar can be substituted)
1/2 vanilla bean
1/8 tsp vanilla extract
Powdered sugar, for dusting
Ganache filling:
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tbs unsalted butter
4 oz semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1.5 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Small pinch of flaky sea salt

  • Whisk together flour and salt in a medium bowl.  Set aside.  Cream butter in a large bowl until fluffy, 3-4 minutes.  Gradually add the sugar and cream another 3-4 minutes.  Using a sharp knife, split the vanilla bean lengthwise.  Scrape the inside of the bean with the tip of the knife to get the caviar.  Add it to the butter mixture and beat it in, about 30 seconds.  Stir in the vanilla extract.  Add the flour mixture gradually, beating on a low speed.  When the dough has just come together, scrape down the sides and refrigerate 10 minutes.
  • Heat the oven to 275º.  Dust your work surface with powdered sugar.  Turn the dough out on the surface and pat or roll to 1/2" thickness.  Using the 2-inch cookie cutter of your choice, cut as many cookies as possible.  Place the cut cookies on an ungreased baking sheet.  Re-roll or pat your dough scraps and cut cookies again.  You may re-pat once more, but these cookies may turn out tough.  A gentle touch is always preferable.  Sprinkle the cookies with a little extra sugar.  Bake the cookies 40 minutes or until the edges are barely golden.  Let cool on the cookie sheet 5-8 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  • While cookies cool, prepare ganache.  Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium-low heat.  Stir occasionally when the chocolate begins to melt.  When only a few lumps remain, take the ganache off the heat and stir until smooth.  Let cool at room temperature until the ganache reaches the consistency of a thick pudding.
  • Turn half the cookies over for piping.  Using either a plastic baggie with a snipped corner or a pastry bag, pipe the ganache over the flipped cookies.  Leave a little border around the cookie.  Top each piped cookie with an unpiped cookie.  Store in an airtight container up to 3 days (if they last that long).


  1. Love! I will totally bake these in my new kitchen in a few weeks! Hope all is well down south!

  2. I'm so excited you have a new kitchen to christen! The pictures on fb look great; I can't wait to see the finished product!