Gingerbread cookies, spiced buttercream, and caramel. What more could you possibly want in a holiday dessert?
I've teamed up with my friend Gabby from Cookie Dough Diaries to create these ultimate holiday sandwich cookies. Gabby specializes in dairy-free baking on her blog, so every recipe is easy, delicious, and tastes just like the real deal. Everything she bakes looks absolutely drool-worthy, and her photography is stunning! We each tackled a portion of this recipe, then swapped parts to make sure each worked with and without dairy. This post is all about the dairy version, so if you're looking for the dairy-free recipe, head on over to Cookie Dough Diaries (thecookiedoughdiaries.com).
I started with the base of these sandwiches, the chewy gingerbread cookies. Each cookie bakes up with crisp edges and an ultra-chewy centre. Gabby mastered the sandwich fillings here, with a golden caramel in the middle and a spiced buttercream piped around the edge (both of which I could - and have - eaten by the spoonful).
Are you drooling, yet? Keep scrolling for a few tips on how to get the best results, and then - time to get baking!
Making the cookies
This cookie dough is fairly straightforward to make - cream the butter and sugars, beat in the wet ingredients, then fold in the dry. Then, scoop the dough into balls and chill before baking. Let cool and, bam - fresh, festive cookies!
If you are looking to make these cookies smaller than 2 tablespoon scoops, you will need to adjust the baking time and oven temperature to achieve the same texture. I would say that a little cooler would do well for a minute or so less, though I have not tried this personally.
A batch of these cookies can last up to one week in the fridge in an airtight container. Note that the texture will become chewier the longer they sit, so their edges may lose their crispiness if they get forgotten about. Luckily, it's hard to leave them alone, so no worries there (at least in my house)!
Making the fillings
Spiced buttercream and caramel - a match made for a holiday cookie sandwich. And preparing the buttercream is super simple: mix together the butter and shortening base, beat in powdered sugar and spices, then fill up a piping bag with the finished product. I like to use my Ateco tips when piping, and I used a large french star tip here. Feel free to change it up for whichever edge you'd like! I truly love how customizable this dessert can be.
Next up is the caramel filling. Super easy here, and minimal stove-work involved. Just combine the ingredients over low heat until bubbling, then let cool slightly before dolloping some in the middle of each sandwich. You might be surprised by the ingredients in this caramel, too. They're not all typically found in caramel, though they make such a delicious outcome that they definitely should be.
Super easy fillings, super delicious dessert. Recipe below to get your holiday baking on, and the dairy-free version on cookiedoughdiaries.com! Be sure to tag Gabby and I on Instagram if you make these (@sugarbutterflourbakery and @cookiedoughdiaries).
Also, be careful not to get too lost in those tiny flecks of spices in the buttercream shot below, it's quite dangerous!
Gingerbread sandwich cookies
with spiced buttercream and caramel
Prep time: 3 hours
Bake time: 15 minutes
Serves/makes: 9 sandwiches
Festive sandwich cookies complete with gingerbread drop cookies, spiced buttercream, and caramel, made in collaboration with Cookie Dough Diaries
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1/4 teaspoon allspice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon allspice
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Cream together the butter, granulated sugar, and dark brown sugar in a large bowl until lightened and fluffy. Beat in the molasses, and, once fully combined, mix in the egg.
- In a separate large bowl, stir together the flour, cinnamon, allspice, ginger, salt, and baking soda. Sift, if necessary, to remove any outstanding lumps. In two additions, pour the dry mixture over the wet, then fold gently until combined, leaving only a few streaks of flour.
- Scoop out the dough into 2 tablespoon balls. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once chilled, bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 350 °F until the edges are set. Let cool fully before assembling.
- For the buttercream, beat together the butter and shortening until light and fluffy. Add in half of the powdered sugar and return to mixing. Once fully incorporated, beat in the remaining half, plus the cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and salt. Beat for about another minute, or until thick yet fluffy. Transfer to a piping bag fitted with desired tip and set aside.
- For the caramel, place a small saucepot over low heat. Cook the sweetened condensed milk, butter, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt just until bubbles break the surface of the mixture. Remove from heat and let cool for 2 to 5 minutes.
- On a clean work surface, spread out the cooled cookies (half facing upward, the others downward). Pipe a swirl of buttercream inside of each of the downward-facing cookies. Dollop about a teaspoon of the caramel into the centre of each. Sandwich a similarly-sized upward cookie on top and press lightly to close. Repeat with the remaining cookies and fillings. Serve fresh or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a week.