Toffee Sandwich Cookies with Almonds & Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling

WOW. My daughter declared that these are the best cookies I have ever made!

They are composed of crispy and crunchy, thin toffee cookies sandwiched with fabulous brown-butter buttercream. The filling is the perfect complement to the toffee flavored cookies.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sohla El-Waylly. I modified the method and increased the amount of filling. I also used toffee with chocolate- now I’ll have to try them without as well. Amazing!

The original recipe notes that these cookies are ideal for shipping and sharing because they have a long shelf life. They didn’t last very long in my house! 😉

Yield: 34 to 36 sandwich cookies

For the Cookies:

  • 227 g (about 1 1/2 cups) English toffee bits, preferably without chocolate (such as Heath Bits O’Brickle)(I used Trader Joe’s Toffee Chips with both dark and milk chocolate, coarsely chopped)
  • 112 g (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/4 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 3 T (42 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg, white and yolk separated, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 3/4 cups (224 g) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) sliced almonds, or more, for garnish

For the Brown-Butter Buttercream Filling:

  • 16 T (227 g) unsalted butter, cut into pieces
  • 1 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp plus a pinch Diamond Crystal kosher salt or 1/8 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) confectioners’ sugar, sifted

To Make the Cookies:

  1. In a food processor, process the toffee bits, sugar, baking soda and salt until the toffee is mostly ground and the mixture is sandy, about 1 minute.
  2. Transfer the toffee mixture to the bowl of a stand mixer (or a large bowl if using a hand mixer).
  3. Add butter, egg white and vanilla. Mix together with the paddle attachment on medium until creamy and fluffy, stopping once to scrape the bowl and paddle, about 2 minutes.
  4. Add flour, and mix on medium-low until the mixture comes together into a soft dough, about 30 seconds.
  5. Divide the dough in half. Pat each half into a disk. Wrap and chill in the fridge for 15 minutes before proceeding. (I wrapped each disk in plastic wrap.)
  6. Dust a piece of parchment paper and dough with flour. Top with a second piece of parchment paper.
  7. Working with one piece of dough at a time, use a rolling pin to roll the dough out 1/8-inch thick between the two sheets of parchment (the thickness of two stacked pennies), turning the dough frequently to ensure it moves freely, dusting with more flour as needed. Each sheet of dough will be about the size of a standard sheet of paper.
  8. Place the dough on a flat surface (I used a cutting board) and place in the freezer for 15 minutes.
  9. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter dusted in flour, cut out cookies from one sheet of dough. Using an offset spatula, transfer rounds to a parchment paper lined rimmed sheet pan, placing another sheet of parchment paper between layers. (I stacked the rounds between sheets of plastic wrap but it was slightly difficult to remove them once frozen- parchment paper seems like a better plan.)
  10. Repeat with the remaining sheet of dough.
  11. Gather and knead together any scraps, refreeze and re-roll, repeating until all the dough has been rolled out for a total of about 68 to 72 cookies.
  12. Wrap the rounds of dough on the sheet pan with plastic wrap; freeze on sheet trays for at least 30 minutes before baking. (Alternatively, once the cookies have firmly frozen, stack them between parchment in a freezer-safe container or zipper-lock bag for up to 3 months.)
  13. Set racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and heat oven to 350 degrees. (I used the convection setting.)
  14. Whisk together the egg yolk with 1 tablespoon of water and evenly brush on the tops of half (34 to 36) of the chilled cookies.
  15. Sprinkle the yolk-brushed cookies with almonds, pressing gently to adhere.
  16. Bake the cookies until deeply browned like a pretzel, switching the sheet trays from top to bottom and rotating from front to back halfway through, 10 to 14 minutes. (I simultaneously baked 3 pans of 12 cookies each for 10 to 11 minutes on convection.)
  17. Bake the remaining cookies (without almonds) at the same temperature for the same duration.
  18. Let cookies cool completely on the sheet pans.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Set a piping bag in a tall and narrow container, like a deli quart container, and fold over the top edge to secure.
  2. Flip over the cookies without almonds. (You need to pipe the icing onto the cookies immediately after mixing, so make sure you are set up.)
  3. In a small saucepan over medium heat, melt butter until foamy, about 3 minutes.
  4. Continue cooking butter, stirring and scraping frequently with a stiff silicone spatula, until the sputtering has subsided and the butter solids look deeply browned, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape the butter and any brown bits into the bowl of a stand mixer (or into a large bowl if mixing by hand).
  5. Stir in the vanilla and salt.
  6. Sift over the powdered sugar.
  7. With the paddle attachment, mix on low until creamy and combined, about 1 minute, stopping once during mixing to scrape the bowl and the paddle. (You can also mix with a stiff silicone spatula until creamy and combined.)
  8. Transfer the icing to the piping bag and cut a 1-inch wide opening at the tip. (I used a round piping tip instead.) The icing will be warm and fluid.
  9. Pipe a scant tablespoon of filling onto a flipped cookie and immediately top with an almond-topped cookie.
  10. Gently press to adhere so that the filling reaches the edges of the cookie.
  11. Repeat with remaining cookies and icing. Store cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 month.

Cream Cheese Sugar Cookies

Happy Valentine’s Day! ❤

I made these delicious cookies for my daughter and some of her friends for their Valentine’s (Galentine’s!) Day celebration. Tanya Ott, the amazing baker of globalbakes.com, promised that they would hold their shape and she was right. I was so pleased! 🙂 Because the dough does not contain a rising agent, the cut out shapes stay completely intact while baking.

The cookie recipe was adapted from globalbakes.com. I made half the recipe, used fine sea salt, increased the chilling time, and baked the cookies in a convection oven. Tanya’s blog has many informative videos with amazing royal icing techniques and ideas. I highly recommend checking it out. 🙂

The royal icing recipe is from Martha Stewart’s Baking Handbook.

For the Cream Cheese Sugar Cookie Dough:

  • 227 grams (1 cup; 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 114 grams (4 oz) cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 200 grams (1 cup) granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 337 grams (2 1/4 cups plus 2 T) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 tsp fine sea salt
  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, beat together the butter and cream cheese until well blended and smooth.
  2. Add the sugar, vanilla extract, and egg yolks, and mix until just combined.
  3. Add the flour and salt, and mix to form a soft dough.
  4. Shape the dough into a ball, press into a 1/2-inch disk, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or until firm.
  5. Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface to 1/4 inch thick. Cut the dough into desired shapes with cookie cutters, and place them on a plastic wrap-lined cookie sheet. Place another layer of plastic wrap between each layer of cookies. (I stack similar shapes on top of one another.)
  6. Chill for at least 15 minutes. (I chilled the cut shapes overnight.)
  7. Preheat the oven to 350F, preferably on convection. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment or silicone baking sheets.
  8. Place the chilled cookies one inch apart on prepared baking sheets. (Bake cookies of similar size at the same time.)
  9. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Bake time will vary with the size and thickness of the cookies. Allow to cool completely before frosting or decorating.

For the Royal Icing:

  • 1/2 pound (8 oz) Confectioners’ sugar
  • 2 1/2 T meringue powder
  • liquid or gel-paste food coloring
  • sanding sugar or sprinkles, as desired
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine sugar, meringue powder, and a scant 1/4 cup (4 T) water on low speed.  Beat until mixture is fluffy yet dense, 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. To thin the icing for flooding (filling in areas with additional icing), stir in additional water, 1 teaspoon at a time.  Test the consistency by lifting a spoonful of icing and letting it drip back into the bowl; a ribbon should remain on the surface for 5 to 7 seconds.
  3. To tint icing, dip a toothpick or wooden skewer into food coloring, and gradually mix it in until the desired shade is reached. (I used 3 shades of pink once the icing was “flood” consistency.)
  4. Using a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip, pipe a border around each cookie. Then, thin the icing to a flood consistency and fill in the border. (I used a larger tip to fill in the cookies.)
  5. Decorate with sanding sugar or sprinkles before the icing has set, if desired.

Italian Butter (Spritz) Cookies

I do admire people who post Christmas cookie recipes prior to Christmas! 😉

This recipe was adapted from one of my absolute favorite books, Midwest Made: Big, Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever. I used almond extract, Irish butter, a cookie press, and baked the cookies on convection. Simple and classic.

They can be made in any shape to suit the season. The original recipe also suggests topping the cookies with sprinkles, sparkling colored sugars, or drizzling or sandwiching them with chocolate.

Yield: about 3 dozen cookies

  • 8 oz (225 g) unsalted European-style butter, at room temperature (I used Kerrygold)
  • 120 g (1 cup) confectioners’ sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp pure almond, lemon, or anise extract
  • 256 g (2 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • sprinkles or sparkling colored sugars, optional
  • melted dark or white chocolate for drizzling, optional
  1. Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F (180 C), preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. (Silicone liners make piping a little bit easier because the they don’t lift up as the cookie press or piping tip pulls away.)(I used both!)
  3. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high speed until creamy.
  4. Add the confectioners’ sugar and continue to beat until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Reduce the mixer speed to medium and beat in the egg, egg yolk, vanilla, and the additional extract of your choice. Blend for 1 minute more.
  6. Reduce the mixer speed to low and stir in the flour, salt, and baking powder. Scrape down the bowl well and make sure the dough is well mixed.
  7. Immediately transfer the dough to a cookie press or a heavy-duty piping bag fitted with a large open star tip, such as Ateco #826.
  8. Spritz the cookies onto the prepared baking sheets. If using a pastry bag, pipe the cookies into desired shapes- aim for cookies about 2 inches (5 cm) wide, spaced about 2 inches apart.
  9. Decorate with sprinkles or sparkling sugars, if desired.
  10. Refrigerate on the sheets for about 15 minutes, or freeze for 5 minutes. (I placed the parchment on a plastic cutting board in the freezer.)
  11. Bake until lightly golden at the edges, 10 to 12 minutes. Cookies on parchment will brown faster; those on silicone mats will need a little more time to color.
  12. Allow the cookies to cool on the sheets for 2 or 3 minutes before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. To finish non-sprinkled cookies, drizzle or sandwich with melted dark or white chocolate, if desired.

Speculoos with Spiced Sugar Topping

I cannot resist trying a new Speculoos recipe. I am mildly obsessed with these crispy spice cookies! 😉 I love the spiced sugar sprinkle on this delicious version. They may be my new favorite!

This recipe was adapted from 177milkstreet.com, contributed by Erika Bruce. I modified the method and used a combination of molasses and light corn syrup instead of dark corn syrup. Next year I need to make a double batch!

Yield: about 60 2-inch square cookies

  • 3/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 tsp ground coriander
  • 3/4 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 T granulated sugar
  • 320 g (2 2/3 cups) cake flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground cloves
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks) salted butter, cool room temperature
  • 218 g (1 cup) packed light brown sugar
  • 1/4 tsp table salt
  • 1 1/2 T light corn syrup
  • 1/2 T molasses
  1. Heat the oven to 350°F with a rack in the middle position. Line 4 baking sheets with kitchen parchment.
  2. In a small bowl, stir together the cinnamon, coriander and allspice. Measure 1 teaspoon of the mixture into another small bowl, then whisk the white sugar into it and set aside.
  3. In a medium bowl, whisk together the cake flour, baking soda, cloves and the remaining spice mixture.
  4. In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, brown sugar and salt on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Increase to medium-high and beat until fluffy and pale, about 5 minutes.
  5. With the mixer running, gradually add the corn syrup, molasses, and 2 tablespoons water.
  6. Using a silicone spatula, scrape the sides of the bowl, then mix for another 30 seconds.
  7. Reduce to low, add the flour mixture and mix until the ingredients just begin to form an evenly moistened dough, about 15 seconds.
  8. Dust the counter liberally with flour and scrape the dough onto it. Gently knead the dough, giving it 2 or 3 turns, until smooth; it should feel moist and supple but should not be sticky.
  9. Divide the dough in half; wrap 1 piece in plastic and set aside. With your hands, pat the second piece into a rough 8-by-6-inch rectangle.
  10. Using a well-floured rolling pin, or between layers of plastic wrap, roll the dough rectangle to an even 1/8-inch thickness. Wrap well and place in the freezer until firm, about 15 minutes. (I place the dough on a plastic cutting board to keep it flat.)
  11. With a 2-inch rectangular or round cookie cutter (ideally with a fluted edge), cut out cookies as close together as possible. Use an offset spatula to carefully transfer the cutouts to one of the prepared pieces of parchment paper, spacing them about 1/2-inch apart. (I used a square cookie cutter.)
  12. Gently pat the dough scraps together, then re-roll and cut out additional cookies; transfer the cutouts to parchment paper.
  13. If desired, use a slightly smaller cutter of the same shape to imprint a decorative border (do not cut all the way through the dough) and use a toothpick to poke a few holes in the centers. (I put 4 holes in the center of each square.)
  14. Sprinkle the cookies evenly with half of the spiced sugar, then freeze or refrigerate uncovered for 15 minutes. (I place the parchment paper on a plastic cutting board to put it in the freezer.)
  15. Repeat the process with the remaining dough.
  16. Place the first sheet of cookies in the oven. Bake until the cookies are firm and beginning to brown, 14 minutes, on convection, or up to 18 minutes in a standard oven, rotating once halfway through.
  17. Cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then use a wide metal spatula to transfer them to a wire rack.
  18. Repeat with the remaining cookies. Cool completely before serving.

Christmas Cookies 2021

I hope that everyone had a wonderful holiday! These are the cookies that we shared with our family and friends this Christmas season.

Many old favorites reappeared – I needed the comfort of the tried and true. 🙂 I will post the recipes for the new additions soon. I tried new Speculoos and spritz butter cookies. We loved both!

Best wishes for a Happy and Healthy 2022!

Cookies Clockwise from Top:

Cookies in Center:

Ina Garten’s Pomegranate Gimlet

Here’s another treat that would be perfect for Valentine’s Day! ❤

This cocktail is composed of many of my favorites. I love a classic gimlet. 🙂 This pomegranate version would also be festive for the holidays or just tasty any other time of the year.

This recipe was adapted from Today.com. I modified the proportions to make individual cocktails. The volumes for 6 gimlets are also noted below.

Yield: one cocktail

  • 2 oz (4 T) gin
  • 1 1/2 oz (2 1/2 T) pomegranate juice (I used Trader Joe’s)
  • 1 1/2 oz (2 1/2 T) freshly squeezed lime juice (from 1 lime)
  • 2/3 oz (1 1/2 T) agave nectar or simple syrup
  • lime slice and pomegranate seeds, for garnish

For a Crowd:

Yield: six cocktails

  • 1 1/2 cups gin
  • 1 cup pomegranate juice
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (6 to 8 limes)
  • 1/2 cup simple syrup
  • 6 lime slices and pomegranate seeds, for garnish
  1. At least one hour before serving, place martini glass(es) in the freezer.
  2. Combine the gin, pomegranate juice, lime juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker filled with ice (for 1 cocktail) or large pitcher (for 6 drinks).
  3. If making multiple drinks, fill a cocktail shaker half full with ice and add the drink mixture until the shaker is three quarters full.
  4. Shake for a full 15 seconds.
  5. Pour the mixture into the frozen martini glasses and garnish with a teaspoon of pomegranate seeds, or more to taste, and a slice of lime.

Note: To make your own simple syrup, combine 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small pot and heat just until the sugar dissolves and the mixture is clear. Refrigerate until cold.

Cinnamon Star Bread

I kept seeing various versions of this pretty pull-apart star bread and had to make one for myself. 😉 It’s so pretty and deceptively simple.

There are savory versions out there, but this variation of a classic cinnamon bun was the first choice for my crowd. The recipe is from King Arthur Flour. I weighed the dry ingredients and used fine sea salt. I made the loaf a day in advance and it was still tender, moist, and delicious.

Yield: One Star Loaf, about 8 servings

For the Dough:

  • 2 cups (241g) unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (46g) potato flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill) or 1/2 cup (46g) dried potato flakes
  • 1/4 cup (28g) nonfat dry milk
  • 3/4 cup + 2 to 4 tablespoons (198g to 227g) lukewarm water, enough to make a soft, smooth dough
  • 4 tablespoons (57g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) fine sea salt

For the Filling:

  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup (99g) granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cinnamon

To Make the Dough:

  1. Sift the flour, potato flour, and dry milk through a strainer; this is an important step to prevent lumps in the dough. (If you’re using instant mashed potatoes rather than potato flour you can skip this sifting step.)
  2. Combine all of the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — to make a soft, smooth dough.
  3. Place the dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover, and let it rise for 60 minutes, until it’s nearly doubled in bulk. (I used a proofing oven.)

To Shape and Bake the Loaf: 

  1. Divide the dough into four equal pieces. (I used a scale.) Shape each piece into a ball, cover the balls, and allow them to rest for 15 minutes.
  2. On a lightly greased or floured work surface, roll one piece of dough into a 10″ circle.
  3. Place the circle on a piece of parchment, brush a thin coat of beaten egg on the surface, then evenly sprinkle with 1/3 of the cinnamon-sugar, leaving 1/4″ of bare dough around the perimeter.
  4. Roll out a second circle the same size as the first, and place it on top of the filling-covered circle. Repeat the layering process — egg, cinnamon sugar, dough circle — leaving the top circle bare.
  5. Place a 2 1/2″ to 3″ round cutter in the center of the dough circle as a guide. With a bench knife or sharp knife, cut the circle into 16 equal strips, from the cutter to the edge, through all the layers.
  6. Using two hands, pick up two adjacent strips and twist them away from each other twice so that the top side is facing up again. Repeat with the remaining strips of dough so that you end up with eight pairs of strips.
  7. Pinch the pairs of strips together to create a star-like shape with eight points. Remove the cutter. ( Removed the cutter before joining the strips, which may have given the star an uneven appearance.)
  8. Transfer the star on the parchment to a baking sheet.
  9. Cover the star and let it rise until it becomes noticeably puffy, about 45 minutes. (I used a proofing oven.)
  10. While the star is rising, preheat the oven to 400°F, preferably on convection.
  11. Brush the star with a thin coat of the beaten egg.
  12. Bake it for 12 to 15 minutes, until it’s nicely golden with dark brown cinnamon streaks; the center should register 200°F on a digital thermometer.
  13. Remove the loaf from the oven and allow it to cool for about 10 minutes before serving.
  14. Dust with confectioners’ sugar, if desired, and serve warm or at room temperature. (It could also be served drizzled with a confectioners’ sugar glaze, if desired.)
  15. Store any leftover bread, well wrapped in plastic, at room temperature for several days. Freeze for longer storage.
Note: To reheat bread for serving, place it on a baking sheet and tent it loosely with aluminum foil. Place in a preheated 350°F oven, and warm for about 15 minutes, or until it’s as hot as you like.

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