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.

Chicago Public School Butter Cookies

As soon as I read an article about these cookies, I was obsessed. 😉

Although named butter cookies, I would describe them as shortbread cookies. According to The Chicago Tribune, these fantastic cookies were the standout item served by the Chicago Public Schools from the 1960’s to the 1980’s. Now described as a “cult classic,” easily identified by the three-finger press on top of the dough, Crockett Cookies updated the original recipe by incorporating vanilla bean paste and sea salt.

The recipe was adapted from crockettcookies.com, via myrecipes.com and The Chicago Tribune. I modified the proportions and size, using a cookie scoop to ration the dough. I also baked the cookies in a convection oven. Crockett Cookies sells them (as well as a peanut butter version) in grocery and specialty stores throughout the Chicagoland area- genius.

They have quickly climbed the ranks to be one of my husband’s absolute favorites- tied with Tutu’s! 🙂 The texture is perfect- crispy on the edges and tender and crumbly in the center. Crazy easy and absolutely delicious.

Yield: Makes about 20 cookies

  • 2 sticks (1/2 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste (can substitute vanilla extract)
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  1. In the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add the vanilla bean paste and mix to blend.
  3. Mix the salt into the flour, then add to the mixer and beat on medium until combined.
  4. Using a 1 1/2 tablespoon cookie scoop, make balls of dough and place on a cookie sheet lined with plastic wrap or parchment paper.
  5. Using three fingers, press down on top of the dough to flatten, leaving the finger marks on the cookie. Place the cookies in the fridge and chill for at least an hour.
  6. Preheat an oven to 375° and prepare 2 large rimmed sheet pans with parchment paper. (I set my oven to convection.)
  7. Bake 12 minutes, on convection, or up to 15 to 18 minutes in a standard oven, until lightly golden brown on the edges. Rotate the pans halfway through the baking time.
  8. Cool completely on a rack on the pan then transfer to an airtight container for up to a week or freeze for up to three months.

Note: To bake at a later date, the prepped cookies can be frozen in a single layer on a sheet pan, and then transfered to a zip top bag. Bake from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.

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.

Coffee Blondies

When an amazing baker like Sarah Kieffer says that she’s been making these blondies for almost two decades, I had to try them. Right? They did not disappoint.

The recipe was adapted from The Vanilla Bean Baking Book: Recipes for Irresistible Everyday Favorites and Reinvented Classics by Sarah Kieffer of The Vanilla Bean Blog. I used espresso, fine sea salt, and dark chocolate chips. We ate them with and without (caramel) ice cream. 🙂

Yield: one 9×13-inch pan of blondies (about 12 large or 24 small)

  • 213 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 12 T (1 1/2 sticks; 170 g) unsalted butter, cold
  • 297 g (1 1/2 cups) light brown sugar, packed
  • 3/4 tsp fine sea salt
  • 2 T strong coffee, room temperature (I used espresso)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 86 g (3/4 cup) pecan halves, toasted and chopped
  • 128 g (3/4 cup) bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips (I used 72% dark chocolate chips)
  1. Adjust the oven rack to the middle position. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Grease a 9×13-inch metal baking pan with cooking oil spray. Line the pan with parchment paper leaving an overhang on 2 sides. (I clip the overhang with binder clips to keep it in place.)
  3. Spread the nuts in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and toast until lightly browned and fragrant, about 5 minutes. Let cool and then chop; set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk the flour and baking powder.
  5. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter, brown sugar, and salt.
  6. Remove pan from the heat and stir in the coffee until well combined. Let the mixture come to room temperature. (I transferred it to a large bowl to expedite the process at this point.)
  7. Add the egg and vanilla and whisk to combine. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl (if you haven’t already).
  8. Add the flour mixture and stir until just combined.
  9. Add the pecans and chocolate chips and stir gently until incorporated.
  10. Using an offset spatula, spread the batter evenly into the prepared pan.
  11. Bake 18 to 24 minutes, until the blondies are set on the edges and the top is golden brown and just beginning to form cracks. A toothpick inserted into the center should come out with just a couple of crumbs.
  12. Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely. Use the parchment sling to gently lift the blondies from the pan. Cut into squares.

One-Bowl Crispies

These cookies were simple and sensational. The original recipe named them “Brown-Edge Cookies” which didn’t seem fabulous enough! They were named for a similar crispy cookie sold by Nabisco prior to 1996 called Brown-Edge Wafers.

The recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Mille Shea and Liz Laskey, adapted by Margaux Laskey. Millie Shea learned this all-butter recipe from her mother in the 1930’s.

The authors described them as “buttery like the Danish cookies in blue tins, tender in the middle like snickerdoodles and snappy like Scottish shortbread.” The article also stated that they would be placed in the intersection of a Christmas sugar cookie, vanilla wafer, and French tuile. Wow. That is a combination of quite a few favorites!

I made half of the recipe below, yielding about 32 cookies. The recipe (even half of the recipe!) definitely makes enough to share.

Yield: about 5 dozen

  • 1 pound/453 grams unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 pound/453 grams granulated sugar (2 1/4 cups)
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups/384 grams all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt
  1. Arrange two racks around the middle of the oven and heat oven to 375 degrees, preferably on convection.
  2. Using a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugar on medium-high until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  3. Add egg and vanilla. Beat on medium until incorporated, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add 1 cup flour and the salt and beat on low to just combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  5. Add the remaining 2 cups flour and beat on low until incorporated. Scrape down the bowl, then beat on medium for 30 seconds just until no flour streaks remain. 
  6. Drop heaping tablespoons of dough onto 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing them 3 inches apart as the cookies spread quite a bit while baking. (I used a 1 T cookie scoop, leveled, and placed 8 cookies per sheet.)
  7. Bake 2 sheets at a time, rotating the pans halfway through, until the edges are lightly browned and the centers are slightly puffed, 8 to 9 minutes on convection or up to 10 to 12 minutes in a standard oven. Be careful not to overbake.
  8. Repeat with the rest of the dough. 
  9. Cool on the pans on wire racks for 10 minutes, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely.  Store in an airtight container at room temperature for 5 days, or in the freezer for up to 6 months.

BraveTart’s Lofthouse-Style Cookies

My daughter and her friends are in love with grocery store Lofthouse cookies. We recently made this upgraded homemade version as our celebratory New Year’s Eve dessert. She and a friend had the honor of icing and decorating them with sprinkles. 🙂

The recipe is from the award winning baking book, BraveTart: Iconic American Desserts by Stella Parks, which I received as a holiday gift. Yay! (much more to come from this book, of course) We have tried other homemade versions but agree that this is the best one yet.

The original recipe notes that these “cookies” are really pillowy, soft and tender cupcake tops coated with creamy frosting. In my opinion, calling them cookies adds to their appeal. I made half of the recipe (noted below)- perfect.

Yield: about 12 to 14 3-inch cookies (this recipe can be doubled easily)

For the Frosting:

  • 5 oz (1 3/4 cups) confectioners’ sugar
  • pinch of Morton’s coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 T (1 1/4 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract

For the Cookies:

  • 1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch pieces; firm but pliable (about 60 degrees F)
  • 1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • scant 1/2 tsp Morton’s coarse salt
  • 1 large egg white (about 2 T or 1 oz)
  • 1 T (1/2 oz) heavy cream
  • 1/2 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (5.5 oz) bleached cake flour
  • rainbow sprinkles, for decoration

To Make the Frosting:

  1. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, salt, cream, and vanilla in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment.
  2. Mix on low to moisten, increase to medium, then beat until airy and smooth, about 3 minutes.
  3. Transfer to a zip-top bag, scraping the bowl as cleanly as you can. (I used a sandwich size bag.) Set aside.
  4. Wipe any excess frosting from the bowl and beater with a paper towel.

To Make the Cookies:

  1. Adjust the oven racks to the center of the oven. (I used the 3rd and 5th position.) Preheat to 350 degrees F, preferably on convection.
  2. Line 2 rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  3. Combine butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in the prepared bowl.
  4. Mix on low with the paddle attachment, then increase to medium and beat until creamy, about 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, whisk egg white, cream, and vanilla together in a glass measuring cup.
  6. Add the egg white mixture to the butter in four or five additions and beat until smooth.
  7. Scrape bowl and beater with a flexible spatula, then resume on low.
  8. Sprinkle in the cake flour, mixing to form a soft dough.
  9. Fold once or twice from the bottom up to ensure it’s well mixed.
  10. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip.
  11. Pipe 6 to 7 1-ounce to 1 1/4-ounce portions onto each baking sheet, leaving 2 1/2 inches between them. (I piped a test portion onto a kitchen scale to eyeball the amount. The swirl was about 2 1/2-inches in diameter.)
  12. Bake until puffed and pale gold around the edges, about 12 minutes on convection or up to 15 minutes in a standard oven, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.
  13. Cool until no trace of warmth remains, at least 20 minutes.

To Decorate:

  1. When the cookies are completely cool, snip off a corner of the frosting bag.
  2. Working with 2 or 3 cookies at a time, squeeze a scant tablespoon of frosting over each cookie.
  3. Spread icing into an even layer with an offset spatula or knife. Top with sprinkles, as desired.
  4. Repeat with remaining cookies.

Note: Cookies are best eaten right away but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

Iced Oatmeal Cookies

It seems like a good time to share more cookie recipes. 😉

Before the holidays, I started receiving weekly cookie emails (I subscribed :/ ) from The New York Times- a pretty dangerous and crazy idea! This “pantry cookie” recipe caught my eye right away. A crowd-pleaser for sure.

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Jerrelle Guy. The recipe starts by creaming the sugar with eggs rather than butter. The end result is a cookie with a crusty exterior and chewy interior. Cracks also form on the surface which are highlighted by the essential glaze. Great.

Yield: 15 to 16 cookies

  • 1 cup/95 grams old-fashioned rolled oats 
  • 1 cup/128 grams all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup/100 grams granulated sugar 
  • 1/4 packed cup/55 grams light brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon 
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 
  • 4 T/57 grams unsalted butter, melted 
  • 3/4 cup/92 grams confectioners’ sugar 
  • 5 teaspoons whole or oat milk, plus more as needed 
  1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection, and line two large rimmed cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  2. In a bowl, combine the oats, flour and salt.
  3. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat both sugars with the egg, cinnamon, vanilla and baking soda on high speed, scraping the bowl as needed, until glossy, pale and thick, a full 2 minutes.
  4. Reduce the speed to medium. Very slowly drizzle in the melted butter and whisk until thoroughly incorporated.
  5. Add the oat mixture and gently fold by hand using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  6. Using a small cookie scoop or two spoons, drop 15 golf ball-size mounds of dough onto the sheet pan, spacing them at least 2 inches apart. (I used a 1 1/2 T cookie scoop.)
  7. Bake until the edges and surface are set and lightly golden brown, but the center is still gooey, 10 to 11 minutes on convection or up to 12 to 14 minutes in a standard oven.
  8. Remove from the oven and immediately rap the cookie sheet on the counter or stovetop a couple of times to help the cookies flatten a little more, and cool on the sheet for 5 minutes.
  9. In a small bowl, mix the confectioners’ sugar and milk using a small whisk or fork until the icing is completely smooth and very thick but still moves if you tilt the bowl. Add more milk in small increments as needed. (I add the milk 1 teaspoon at a time to make sure the consistency is not too thin.)
  10. Dip only the very tops of the cookies into the bowl of icing, leaving the deeper cracks in the cookies uncoated and allowing any excess icing to drip back into the bowl.
  11. Flip the cookies over and return them to the cookie sheet to allow the icing to harden, 10 to 15 minutes. The iced cookies will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.

One additional note about special cookies….

My oldest just had his 17th birthday! He is DRIVING. We celebrated with several family favorites- enjoying Creamy Chicken and Greens with Roasted Poblano Tacos (first celebration), Thai One Pot (second!), a Maple Layer Cake, and, most importantly, with our traditional Number Cookies– two versions, Roman numerals are his preference. 🙂

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