Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling #fbcookieswap

This is my third post this week and the titles keep getting longer and longer. I didn’t do that on purpose but cookies like these Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich cookies with Espresso Buttercream are so good its hard to leave out anything from the title since the title helps describe how amazing these cookies are. And they are for the third annual Food Blogger Cookie Swap. Yay!

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I participated last year and I didn’t think there was ANY way I could top the cookies I made last year, my spiced mushroom cookies, which are featured in this winter’s Holiday Isssue of FoodieCrush Magazine!( jumping up and down with excitement Thank you Heidi!) (Check out the magazine HERE).    I brainstormed for a while on what to make for this year and passed my idea by a blogging friend who shares the same love of vanilla beans and cardamom and she said ” I would eat the hell out of those”  so I took that as that these would be a go.

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This year the brands involved helped the cookie swap raise over $13k for children’s cancer research, Cookies for Kids Cancer. There were 622 participants this year from all over the world! That is a lot of cookies! Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is a national non-profit organization dedicated to funding research to find safer, more effective treatments for pediatric cancer. They have provided over $5 million in research grants to pediatric cancer centers since they were founded in 2008. Cookies for Kids’ Cancer is truly making a difference and I am proud to be a part of this to support them with this event. So a huge thank you goes out to OXO, Grandmas Molasses, Dixie Crystals and Gold Medal Flour.

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When I made these for the cookie swap my original recipe made a perfect 3 dozen. Which was awesome because I was sent one dozen to each of my 3 recipients. Which wasn’t awesome because I sent them and realized I hadn’t taken any pictures! So I quickly whipped up another batch. Which was awesome because that meant more cookies for me!

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Remember yesterday when I told you I had rented some lenses to play with? Well, when I was making the first batch of these cookies I was also in the middle of shooting a different recipe and the lenses had just arrived so I was playing around with them and was snapping pics without my camera tethered to my laptop. One is a really awesome zoom lens so I was seeing how far away I could stand to get super close up pics. I would say the lens is awesome for just this. See all the little vanilla bean specks in the cookies?  If you haven’t even baked with vanilla bean seeds I highly suggest it. The flavor is so amazing!!

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This is such a fun cookie swap because besides it being for an amazing cause, we get cookies in the mail!!  Best kind of mail ever. I sent mine out to Annakate of La Aguacate, Chrystal of YumEating and Morgan of Peaches Please! All new to me blogs. That is another fun reason for this swap, getting to know knew fun bloggers!

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This year I received cookies from Ashley of Cookin in Heels, who made these amazing chocolate dipped coconut oatmeal crisps ( yummy coconut!) and these GORGEOUS jeweled ornament sugar cookies from Lisa of Authentic Suburban Gourmet ( who even made one with an ” S” on it for Shanna – that’s me!).  I haven’t received my third package, but I am going to assume it was sacrificed to the postal gods. Last year I only received two as well and the two I got weren’t packaged well at all and the cookies arrived in crumbs and I couldn’t tell at all what they were supposed to be. So I was thrilled to see that the ones I received this year were intact.

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I was a little nervous about packing these up since  shortbread tends to be a little fragile and the buttercream can get really soft at room temperature. I didn’t want them arriving in a crumbly mess. So I froze them all first and packed them up quickly with a lot of tissue paper and bubble wrap and shipped them off quickly. I hope they arrived still intact.

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Oh and before I forget, the buttercream filling for these? It is a must make. The cookies are most excellent on their own, but the extra touch of espresso buttercream made them over the top amazing. I actually bought espresso from a local coffee shop since I don’t have an espresso maker. I reduced it with sugar to make a honey like consistency syrup. I then added it into a basic swiss meringue buttercream and after I took one taste, I was amazed any made it to the cookies. It is definitely something that can be eaten by the spoonful.

5.0 from 3 reviews
Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling
Recipe type: Cookies
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 36
Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling for the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013 Makes 3 dozen sandwich cookies
For the cookies
  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 c confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1 c arrowroot ( or corn) starch
  • ¼ tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground cardamom
  • Vanilla bean seeds from 4 vanilla beans ( 1 ½ tsp vanilla bean seeds)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
For the filling
  • ½ cup espresso
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup butter (3 sticks)
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt
  1. In a bowl combine the flour, salt, starch , cardamom and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk to combine well. Set aside
  2. In a bowl of a stand mixer on medium cream the butter until soft, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Add in the vanilla extract. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until combined.
  3. Form the dough into two sections and form each section into a ball with your hands. Flatten into a disc and wrap with plastic wrap. Chill for one hour.
  4. Preheat oven to 300 deg F. Prepare baking sheets with either parchment or silicone bake mats
  5. On a lightly floured surface roll out on dough disc at a time to ¼” thick. Cut out with 2” diameter ( round, square or snowflake) cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets about 2” apart. Bake for 11 minutes. Do not overbake or let them brown.
  6. Let cool for a few minutes on the cookie sheets and carefully remove to a wire cooling rack to cool completely before filling and assembly
For the Buttercream
  1. Combine the ½ cespresso and ½ c sugar in a saucepan over medium heat stirring until the sugar has dissolved. Bring to a boil and then return to a simmer and heat until reduced and thickened. About 20 minutes. Transfer to a jar and let cool completely. It will be the consistency of honey.
  2. Set a pan of water over the stove and bring to a simmer. In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the egg whites, sugar and salt. Whisk over the simmering water until it reaches 160 deg f. Return the bowl to the stand mixer and attach the whisk attachment. Slowly bring the speed all the way up and whip the mixture until thick and glossy and the bottom of the mixer bowl is cooler to the touch, about 7 minutes. Lower the speed to medium and add in the butter one tablespoon at a time allowing a few rotations of the whisk in-between each addition. Stop to scrape down the sides of the bowl and bring the speed up to high and whip until the buttercream comes together. Add in the espresso syrup one tablespoon at a time until you reach desired flavor.
To assemble
  1. Take one cookie and spread or pipe some of the buttercream on the underside of the cookie (the side that touched the baking sheet when baking) and top with the other cookie. Repeat with remaining cookies. Chill until ready to serve. Serve chilled or at room temperature.

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A HUGE thank you to Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil and Julie of The Little Kitchen for organizing this event. They started it three years ago and its amazing to see it grow and how many more people participated this year. They are rock stars for doing this for Cookies For Kids Cancer. To check out the details of the Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap to get on the email list so you don’t forget to sign up next year, check out details HERE.

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  1. Shanna, these are seriously gorgeous! I love cardamom but don’t use it nearly enough in baking. You’ve inspired me!
    Courtney @ Neighborfood recently posted…Recipe Remix: Chocolate Crazy Cake with Caramel GlazeMy Profile

  2. wow – I love love love the swirly cream inside. You are so good at making it look super festive!!
    sandra recently posted…minty-chocolate shortbread cookies {#fbcookieswap2013}My Profile

  3. I have to tell you, I squealed like a little girl getting that pretty Barbie for Christmas when I opened your box. True story. Thank you for such a beautiful treat and one that wasn’t so ‘sugar’ tasting.
    Chrystal M. recently posted…The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap 2013: Michigan Apple Oatmeal CookiesMy Profile

  4. SO happy that you enjoyed the cookies! (Love that you loved the “S” cookie – I was hoping it would make you smile! ) Your cookies look and sound AMAZING! I too was thrilled to be part of Heidi’s magazine this season – couldn’t stop grinning from ear to ear! Happy, Happy Holidays!!!

  5. Your cookies are gorgeous! I love how you added cardamon to the traditional shortbread cookie and I’m loving that espresso buttercream too! Pinned to make. :)
    Tina @ Tina’s Chic Corner recently posted…Oreo TrufflesMy Profile

  6. so lovely and sound yummy!

  7. Stunning! I’ve never seen a piped filling before and now that I have, I’m surprised it’s not done more — it’s gorgeous. Love all the flavor combinations here — I agree with your friend, I would eat the hell out of these! :)
    Two Red Bowls recently posted…Classic no-fail gingersnaps.My Profile

  8. These have to be some of the best cookies I have ever made. I just got a KitchenAid mixer and was looking for a recipe to break it in with. I followed your advice on the frosting. I’m not usually a frosting person but it was amazing. The rich butter of the frosting leant well to the bite of the espresso really rounding put for such a pretty flavor. The shortbread was so light and delicate. Thanks for the great recipe.

  9. Hi, I was just looking through your recipe and theses cookies sound amazing! However, does it really use 1 cup of cornstarch??? i really want to make these for Christmas but since there is a limited supply of vanilla beans in my area i don’t want to mess up the recipe!! just double checking…Thanks

  10. So I really want to make this for my boyfriend! I don’t mean to change your recipe but he has an obsession with dark chocolate and espresso mix. Any ideas how I could make the short bread cookies into a dark chocolate short bread..?

    • Why not dip them into some melted dark chocolate? My linzer cookie recipe that I posted is a dark chocolate shortbread. You could use that recipe and just use the espresso buttercream from this one, however, since chocolate is such a strong flavor it will overpower the vanilla bean and cardamom.

  11. My mouth is watering for that espresso filling, how divine!

  12. Shanna,

    The photos on your website are GORGEOUS! I scrolled up and down this page many times and felt like I was right there beside these gorgeous cookies… What camera do you use?

    Love the flavor of cardamom and have pinned this for a Valentine’s day baking treat.


    • Thank you so much. I shoot with a Nikon D600 and I have several lenses I shoot with. My mains ones are a 50mm 1.8, 105mm 2.8 macro and a 24-70mm 2.8. I LOVE photography so its so nice to hear others like my work! These cookies are amazing let me know if you make them!

      • Thank you Shanna for the camera info. Yes, will be baking these in the near future and will update you on how they turn out! Love your website!! Happy New Year! :)

  13. Hi. These cookie look amazing. By espresso you mean the coffee powder or the drink itself – in a fluid form? Thank you!

  14. These cookies look delicious! Can’t wait to try them!

  15. esther tremblay says:

    these cookies look amazing. I can not wait to try them, since I love love to bake

  16. These are gorgeous, Shanna. Just spied them on Pinterest!
    Carolyn recently posted…Peanut Butter Chia Seed Energy Bars – Low Carb and Gluten-FreeMy Profile


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