Snickerdoodle Sandwich Cookies

Some time ago I started thinking about a snickerdoodle sandwich cookie, based on the vanilla bean sandwich cookies that my dear friend Diana absolutely loves. I’m proud to say that I adapted that recipe with great success and created a wonderful treat with the perfect balance of cinnamon and vanilla, two of my favorite flavors.

The cookies themselves would be fine on their own, but sandwiching them with vanilla cream filling takes this recipe up a delicious notch. You’ll have plenty of filling left over (I’m making chocolate cupcakes and filling them with the remaining portion), so you can be generous with your portions. Someday I’ll need to figure out how to cut the filling recipe down!

Vanilla Snickerdoodle Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 3/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, divided
  • 10 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, stir together 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon with 1/2 cup sugar; set aside.

In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, kosher salt, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and remaining 1 1/2 cup sugar until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.

Add egg and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until smooth.

With the mixer running on low, gradually add flour mixture.

Shape dough into 1/2 teaspoon-sized balls, about the size of a gumball, and roll in cinnamon sugar.

Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and bake for 10-11 minutes, until tops are very light golden and just set.

Cool on baking sheets for 2-3 minutes, then transfer on the parchment to wire racks to cool completely before filling.

Vanilla Cream Filling

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Preparation

In a mixing bowl, beat together butter and shortening.

Add powdered sugar in small batches, beating until combined.  Once all sugar is incorporated, beat on medium speed for two minutes

Add vanilla and beat to combine.

Place about 1 teaspoon of filling onto half of the cookies, spreading to the edges. Top with another cookie; store at room temperature for up to 3 days. Makes 28 sandwiches.

Chocolate Chip Meringues

What do you do with a leftover egg white? You make a small batch of meringue cookies. I had a leftover egg white from this weekend’s M&M cookies and didn’t want it to go to waste, so I cut down a standard meringue recipe, stirred in some miniature chocolate chips, and pow: chocolate chip meringues.

Meringues are both easy and tricky at the same time. They require few ingredients, but a very long mixing time. And for heaven’s sake, don’t try to make them by hand; get yourself a mixer so you can put it on high speed and tidy up your kitchen while the egg whites whip themselves into a cloud of deliciousness. When folding in chocolate chips or coconut or whatever strikes your fancy, do so very gently to preserve the volume of air in the batter.

Ingredients

  • 1 egg white, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/16 teaspoon cream of tartar*
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup miniature chocolate chips

*One-sixteenth? Yep, just fill your 1/4 teaspoon measuring spoon 1/4 full. 

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a mixing bowl fitted with the whisk attachment, combine egg white, vanilla extract, and cream of tartar. Beat on high speed until soft peaks form (soft peaks curl over). Slowly add sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time, and continue to beat on high speed until stiff peaks form (stiff peaks stand straight up). Gently fold in miniature chocolate chips.

Transfer batter to a pastry bag without a tip, or place in a large zip-top bag and snip off one corner. Pipe meringue in circles, making them as large or as small as you like. My batch yielded 8 medium-small cookies.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until meringues are set and bottoms are very light brown. Remove from oven and allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

M&M Cookies

Easter is just around the corner, and I’m sending a little treat package to my goddaughter Maureen and her family. In it are these M&M cookies, a classic recipe that’s probably been made for many a school bake sale, church picnic, and holiday.

How does one get the M&Ms to look so perfect on the top of each cookie? One places them there immediately after removing the baked cookies from the oven, that’s how. You can certainly add a few to the top before the bake (notice the cracks in the purple and yellow M&Ms in the photo at left- those were ones I’d placed on the raw dough before baking), but to get that pretty food stylist look, you need to press them gently into the tops of the cookies the moment they come out of the oven.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 egg, at room temperature
  • 1 egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup pastel M&M candies, plus another handful for decorating

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, brown sugar, and sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and beat to combine.

With the mixer running on low, slowly add flour mixture, about 1/4 cup at a time, mixing until dough is completely combined. Stir in M&Ms.

Cover and chill dough for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 325. Line several baking sheets with parchment.

Using a two-inch cookie scoop, drop scoops of dough onto the baking sheet at least 2 inches apart; press a few M&Ms into the top of each cookie.

Bake for 12-14 minutes, until edges are light golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately press more M&Ms into the top of each cookie. Cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store at room temperature for up to 4 days. Makes 26.

 

 

Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Shortbread

How does one improve upon chocolate shortbread? One adds miniature chocolate chips, that’s how.

These treats are also bound for my dear friend Amanda out in California. In a recent Facebook exchange about my intent to bake for her, her husband Yannick requested chocolate. And so, along with Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread, the Lizé family will also receive Yannick’s Chocolate-Chocolate Chip Shortbread. I hope they enjoy the treats!

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons Dutch process cocoa
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 cup miniature semisweet chocolate chips

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Lightly grease an 8-inch round baking pan.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, salt, sugar, and vanilla, then add cocoa, baking powder, and flour and beat until well-combined. The dough will pull away from the sides of the pan when it’s ready; once it does, stir in the chocolate chips.

Press dough into the bottom of the baking pan, using the palm of your hand to flatten the dough as much as possible, then prick the dough all over with a fork.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, until the top appears set. Remove from oven and loosen the sides with a knife, then cool in pans for 5 minutes.

Carefully turn one shortbread round out onto a cutting board and cut into 16 wedges; place wedges on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.

Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread

These lemon shortbread cookies are a new creation, made especially for my very dear friend Amanda out in California. You may remember Amanda from my post on Lady Liberty Cookies – we’ve been friends forever, and I hope these treats brighten her day. Her birthday is this month, and she’s having surgery soon – she has rheumatoid arthritis, a condition that’s way more complex than most people might imagine.

To create Amanda’s Lemon Shortbread, I took a basic shortbread recipe and added lemon in every way possible; zest and extract get mixed into the batter, then you roll the dough in lemon sugar (which is just sugar mixed with lemon zest). I hope she loves them!

Ingredients

  • 8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plus 6 tablespoons sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon extract
  • zest of 1 medium lemon, divided
  • 5 ounces flour (1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sugar and half the lemon zest. Stir with a fork to combine very well.

In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter, 6 tablespoons sugar, salt, vanilla extract, lemon extract, and the remaining half of the lemon zest. Add flour and beat to combine; the dough will pull away from the sides of the bowl when it’s ready.

Using a one-inch cookie scoop, scoop generous portions and roll into balls, then dip in the lemon sugar. Place on baking sheets about 2 inches apart and flatten with the bottom of a drinking glass to about 1/4 inch thickness.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until edges and bottoms are golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for about 10 minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container for up to 5 days, or mail them to one of your very best friends in the whole world.

 

Chocolate Pinwheel Cookies

Look in almost any cookie book, and you’ll find a recipe for chocolate pinwheels. Until today, I’d never made them, but I’ve decided that I need to work my way through some classic recipes and see how they turn out. These smelled absolutely delicious while they baked and I’m pleased to say that they turned out very well.

The recipe below is very slightly adapted from one I found through Taste of Home, in their delightful book Cookies, Cakes, & Pies. I cut the original recipe, which yields six dozen cookies, in half for a smaller batch, and also added a bit of water to the recipe to help the dough come together.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups plus 6 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Dash of salt
  • 8 tablespoons butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder

Preparation

In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking powder, and salt; set aside.

In a mixing bowl, cream together butter, sugar, and brown sugar until light and fluffy. Add egg and beat well to combine, then add vanilla and beat well.

Gradually add flour mixture, beating well to combine; dough will be slightly crumbly. Add water and continue beating until dough becomes smooth and easy to handle.

Divide dough into two portions; beat cocoa powder into one half and leave the other half plain.

Roll out each portion of dough between two sheets of waxed paper, making rectangles that are roughly 10 inches by 12 inches. If you have trouble getting your dough into a rectangle, simply fold the edges of the dough in to create the shape, then roll it out to smooth it.

Place each sheet of dough on a cookie sheet and chill for 30 minutes.

Place chocolate dough on your counter top and remove the top sheet of waxed paper. Remove waxed paper from plain dough and place it on top of the chocolate dough. Sprinkle very lightly with flour, then roll just a few times to help press the two dough sheets together.

Tightly roll up the dough on the long side, using the bottom sheet of waxed paper to help if necessary; this can help you move the dough without having it crack as you roll it.

Wrap dough in waxed paper or plastic wrap and chill for at least 2 hours, until firm.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line three baking sheets with foil.

Slice dough into 1/4 inch slices and place about 2 inches part on the baking sheets. If the ends of your dough aren’t perfect spirals and have gaps between the layers (you’ll know what I mean when you see it), simply press those slices together to make a marbled log of dough, then slice that as well.

Bake for 10 minutes, until tops are set. Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for about 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days.

Makes 30.

Caramel Apple Hamantaschen

This past weekend was the Jewish festival of Purim, and hamantaschen are the traditional Purim treat. I’ve made them before, in poppy seed, raspberry, and apricot varieties, but never really found a recipe that I loved.

Last week at work, my friend Inbal mentioned a recipe she’d seen for hamantaschen with apple filling, kind of like little cookie-sized apple pies. This sounded delicious to me, so I went in search of a recipe and found this one from Tori Avey. I adapted it slightly to use my own recipe for buttery hamantaschen dough, and Mike proclaimed these cookies the best hamantaschen I’ve ever made. While this filling isn’t like pie filling, it is absolutely delicious. Thank you, Inbal, for this great idea!

Ingredients

For the filling

  • 5 Granny Smith apples
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dulce de leche

For the dough

Note: Depending on the size of your food processor, you’ll need to make two separate batches of dough because all of the ingredients won’t fit (especially in a standard, 7-cup food processor like mine). 

Preparation

To make the filling:

Peel and core apples, then shred them into fine shreds using a hand grater or your food processor fitted with a shredding blade.

In a medium saucepan, combine water and sugar. Bring to a boil, then add apple shreds and cook on medium heat for about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The mixture will thicken and start to look like thick applesauce and will clump together when you stir it.

Remove from heat and stir in dulce de leche. Allow the mixture to cool, then chill for at least 1 hour before using. I chilled mine for a few days because I didn’t get a chance to make the dough until last night.

To make the cookies:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll out dough to about 1/8 inch thickness and cut into 3-inch circles using a cookie cutter or drinking glass.

Place circles on your cookie sheet, and using the tip of your finger, lightly brush the edge of each circle with water; this will help the dough stick when you form the triangle.

Place about 1 teaspoon of filling in the center of each circle. Fold the bottom up, then fold in the two sides to make the triangle, gently pressing the corners of the triangle to close them and leaving just a bit of filling exposed.

Bake for 15-17  minutes, until cookies are a light golden brown.

Remove from oven and cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes, then place on a wire rack to cool completely.

Store in airtight containers at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Makes about 48.