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Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream

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 Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich cookies with Espresso Buttercream are so good it’s hard to leave out anything from the title since the title helps describe how amazing these cookies are.

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

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.

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

This year the brands involved helped the Food Blogger 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.

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

When I made these vanilla cardamom shortbread cookies 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!

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

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

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!!

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

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!

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

These cookies sound intimidating but they really aren’t. They start off with a basic shortbread base with the vanilla bean and cardamom spice added in and sandwiched with the espresso buttercream. You could make these cookies as just the shortbread snowflakes and omit the filling. I really like them as sandwich cookies. 

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

The shortbread really is amazing on its own, but I love coffee flavored anything and the espresso buttercream really works so well here. 

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

I actually bought espresso from a local coffee shop since I don’t have an espresso maker and never had a need for espresso beans at home.  I reduced the espresso 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.

Yield: 36

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling

Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Espresso Buttercream Filling

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 30 minutes


For the cookies

  • 2 cups butter
  • 1 c confectioners (powdered) sugar
  • 3 c all purpose flour
  • 1/2 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
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 ½ cup butter (3 sticks)
  • ¾ c granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp salt


  • In a bowl combine the flour, salt, starch , cardamom and vanilla bean seeds. Whisk to combine well. Set aside
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Preheat oven to 300 deg F. Prepare baking sheets with either parchment or silicone bake mats
  • 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.
  • 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 espresso 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, 3/4 cup 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.

    Did you make this recipe?

    Please leave a comment on the blog or share a photo on Instagram

    Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich Cookies #fbcookieswap

    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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  • Reply
    February 27, 2019 at 7:32 am

    These look amazing and I want to make them, but question: can I substitute the vanilla beans for extract? If so, how much? Vanilla beans are so expensive 🙁

    • Reply
      February 27, 2019 at 3:56 pm

      You can just omit them. They add more vanilla flavor to the cookie, and add the speckles you see, but since it is a shortbread cookie, too much liquid wont work. Vanilla beans, and vanilla extract, has gotten a lot more expensive these days. When I buy beans, after I use them I will put one in a jar of sugar for vanilla sugar, and I make my own vanilla extract. Helps to offset the price when I use them in other applications.

  • Reply
    Jonna Lee
    November 19, 2019 at 11:06 am

    Couldn’t you use vanilla bean paste in place of the extract and the bean?

    • Reply
      November 19, 2019 at 1:42 pm

      You can. I have found vanilla bean paste to be on the more expensive side so I stick with extract and vanilla bean

  • Reply
    October 5, 2020 at 7:39 am

    The filing calls for 1/2 Cup sugar. The instructions say to use 1/2 C sugar with the espresso, but then “sugar” with the egg whites. How much more sugar are you using in the egg whites?

    • Reply
      October 5, 2020 at 12:32 pm

      3/4 cup. Its listed in the ingredients after the egg whites. I added “3/4 cup sugar” to the instructions to make it more clear

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