Vanilla Cardamom Shortbread Snowflake Sandwich cookies with Espresso Buttercream.
I know the name of these cookies is long. But. Don’t let that intimidate you because these cookies are SO GOOD. A crisp, buttery cardamom shortbread sandwich cookie with vanilla beans and filled with an espresso Swiss meringue buttercream filling. Think a warm, spiced vanilla latte in cookie form.
You all know how much I love to make cookies around the holidays, my Christmas cookie recipe collection is coming along nicely on my blog.
I love cardamom and thought a cardamom shortbread cookie would be amazing. But I wanted something else with the cardamom. I happened to have some vanilla beans and decided that the cardamom and vanilla would be perfect together. I mean, just look at those little flecks of vanilla beans!
And then because I am usually very extra when it comes to baking, I just had to add a buttercream filling and the espresso Swiss meringue buttercream goes so well with these sandwich cookies.
What ingredients are in cardamom shortbread sandwich cookies?
- Butter – I use unsalted, make sure it is room temperature ( about 65-7o deg F. You don’t want it melted, but soft enough to mix until fluffy).
- Confectioners sugar – also known as powdered sugar. I don’t use granulated sugar in these cookies. The powdered sugar makes them melt in your mouth.
- All purpose flour – I have only tested these with all purpose flour. If you want to try to make them gluten free please do so at your own risk as I have not tested them that way.
- Arrowroot starch – I love using arrowroot starch in cookies, you could also use corn starch.
- Vanilla bean seeds – scraped from a few vanilla bean pods. ( Vanilla beans can be on the pricey side, you can also use vanilla bean paste).
- Ground cardamom – a warm spice, often used in Chai blends. Originated from Indian cuisine, and is from the ginger family. I love using it in both sweet and savory recipes.
- Vanilla extract – for another layer of vanilla flavor
- Kosher salt – I prefer Diamond Kosher in my baking
What ingredients are in Espresso Swiss meringue buttercream?
For the original espresso Swiss meringue buttercream recipe I made an espresso syrup and a Swiss Meringue buttercream then add them together. Really not that hard to make, but, you need to pay attention to the temperature of the sugar and egg white mixture on the stove, I highly suggest using a candy thermometer. I have since changed the recipe to make it without the syrup but by adding espresso powder to the buttercream. Much easier.
- Egg whites – from large eggs. Save those yolks for curd or ice cream
- Sugar – granulated sugar
- Butter – unsalted at room temperature
- Salt – kosher salt
- Espresso powder – mixed with a little water
I loved making these snowflake shaped. You can make the cookies as is, in any shape you like. Or make them into sandwich cookies. If you make them just as cookies and not a sandwich cookie you can roll them out a little thicker.
These make great gifts, they’re perfect for any holiday cookie box or tray. You can freeze them before packing up too.
I like to pipe the espresso Swiss meringue buttercream into the cookies with a piping bag and a small open star tip. These are holiday cookies, so I like to make them a little fancier. You can save time by using a small spatula and spreading the buttercream between the cookies.
The shortbread really is amazing on its own, but I love coffee flavored anything and the espresso buttercream really works so well here.
Other holiday cookie recipes you might enjoy:
Linzer Kipferl – a classic Austrian sandwich cookie with apricot jam and dipped in chocolate.
Tropical Snowball Cookies – a tropical twist of the classic snowball cookie made with macadamia nuts and lime zest
White Chocolate Dipped Soft Ginger Molasses Cookies – classic soft ginger molasses cookies with an upgrade.
Chocolate Peppermint S’mores Cookies – Chocolate cookies with melty peppermint marshmallows
I have updated the recipes to make the espresso buttercream easier to make. No more espresso syrup. If you want to make it with the espresso syrup I have included that in the recipe notes.
I originally bought espresso from a coffee shop since I don’t have an espresso maker. I made it into a syrup with sugar. 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. However, after some reader feedback I decided to remake the recipe and make it a little easier with one less step. Still just as tasty.
For the cookies:
- 3 cups all purpose flour (375 grams)
- 1 cup arrowroot starch (128 grams) (could also use corn starch)
- ¼ teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground cardamom
- 2 cups butter (452 grams), room temperature
- 1 cup confectioners (powdered) sugar (120 grams)
- Vanilla bean seeds from 4 vanilla beans ( 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla bean seeds) OR 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
For the espresso Swiss meringue buttercream
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 ½ cup butter (3 sticks) (339 grams)
- ¾ cup granulated sugar (150 grams)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 tablespoon espresso powder
- 2 teaspoons water
For the cookies:
In a medium bowl combine the flour, salt, starch and cardamom. Whisk to combine well. Set aside.
In a bowl of a stand mixer on medium, cream the butter until soft and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Stop the mixer and add the powdered sugar and mix on low until combined. Add in the vanilla extract and vanilla bean seeds or paste. 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 snowflake shaped cookie cutters and place on cookie sheets about 2” apart. Bake for 10-11 minutes. Do not over bake 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. Since they are thin cookies they cool pretty quickly.
For the espresso Swiss Meringue buttercream:
Make the buttercream while the cookies are cooling. You could also make this a day ahead of time and bring to room temperature before using, just whip again in your mixer to make it light and fluffy.
Set a pan of water over the stove and bring to a simmer. Set your mixing bowl over the pan to make sure it doesn’t touch the water, either pour out some of the water or add a foil ball to keep it from touching. In the stand mixer bowl, combine the egg whites, sugar and salt.
Set the bowl over the pan of simmering water until it reaches 160 deg f. ( use a candy thermometer). 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. Mix the espresso powder with water then add to the buttercream. Whip to fully incorporate for another minute.
If piping the buttercream for the filling - fit a piping bag with a small open star tip and fill with some of the buttercream, squeeze to get rid of any air. I always squeeze a little back into the mixing bowl when getting rid of the air.
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.
The original recipe called for an espresso syrup to be added to the buttercream. An extra step that got a lot of questions. I decided to make the buttercream a little easier and omit this step. However, if you wanted to make it this way here is the ingredients and instructions for the original recipe:
Combine the ½ cup brewed espresso (125 ml) and ½ cup sugar (100 grams) 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 15 minutes. Transfer to a jar and let cool completely. It will be the consistency of honey.
Instead of the powedered espresso and water in the updated recipe, add this syrup in one tablespoon at a time until you reach the desired flavor of buttercream. You might have some syrup leftover.