How would it have been possible to resist this? I wouldn’t know, I didn’t even try to resist!
At this point, I don’t even remember where I heard about it. But nothing spurs me to ambitious feats of baking more than the chance to bake something and take it out of my house. Because, “Danger, Will Robinson,” baking without an external destination is a perilous pastime. But I am so grateful to Alyson, wineandplum.com, for her delicious nutella & caramel stuffed chocolate chocolate chip cookies; Allison, celebratingsweets.wordpress.com, for her delicious butter toffee shortbread cookies; and Nicki, http://nickisrandommusings.com/ for her delicious oatmeal cranberry white chocolate chip cookies. I was kind of nice and even shared them with the husband guy and the offspring unit.
Instructions were clear on the website, http://www.fbcookieswap.com/, so all I had to do was dredge through the sugar and flour-coated recesses of my brain and come up with a favorite recipe that I hoped would ship well.
What better cookie could there be than Danish Butter Sandwiches? Long ago, in the middle jurassic (or something like that), I worked at a coffee shop in Bellingham, Washington, called Casa Rosa. A truly gifted pastry chef worked there and, although I don’t remember her name, I remember her cookies. Of all the beautiful things she made, these were my favorite. I would haunt the pastry case, looking for cookies that hadn’t been able to take the pressure of constant scrutiny by the public and had, as a result, lost their structural integrity. These cookies I claimed as my own. As this happened infrequently, I finally just asked for the recipe.
She didn’t give it to me. But she told me where to find it. It’s in Maida Heatter’s Book of Great Cookies, originally published in 1977. It’s a simple recipe with only 4 ingredients in the original cookie (I added salt) and 5 ingredients in the filling. It is rich, yet delicate and, as my offspring said, “tastes like vanilla and happiness.”
It doesn’t take a pantry full of stuff to make these.
I save the egg whites, but the ones that get yolk in them go to the husband guy–“hey, honey, it’s time for another omelet!” Then it’s the usual routine; cream butter, add sugar, add egg yolk, you know the drill.
The original recipe calls for unsalted butter but if you like salt and have access to high quality salted butter, I say “go for it!” I used to roll the dough into balls, flatten it carefully and then use a fork to create a pattern but that’s too much work so now I just flatten them with my fingers. I also do not sift the flour–it seems to make no difference.
Oops, the first batch deconstructed. I checked my oven temperature and it was too hot. Also, I hadn’t chilled the cookies after shaping them. Next batch chilled out for 15 minutes and worked much better. The chocolate version seems to be less prone to meltdowns but chilling is good for all.
I bet you thought I’d never get to the sandwich part. Maybe it’s just me, but I find that one recipe of the filling isn’t quite enough. It’s easy to make a larger batch, so why not do it? It’s also good spread over pancakes or used as filling in more mundane cookies. A spoon works, too.
Here’s the recipe, as adapted by moi:
Butter: 4 sticks/one pound/454 grams
Light brown sugar: 1- 1/2 cup/228 grams
Egg yolk: 2
Sifted all-purpose flour: 4-1/2 cup/500 grams*
Big pinch salt
Butter: 4 tablespoons/56 grams
Powdered sugar: 2 -1/2 cups/276 grams
Vanilla: 1 teaspoon
Heavy cream: 3-1/2 to 4 tablespoons
Salt: big pinch or about 1/4 teaspoon
To make the cookies
Cream the butter. Add the sugar and beat to mix in well. Add the egg yolk and mix until well blended. With the mixer on low speed, gradually add the flour, scraping the bowl as needed until well combined. Dough does not need to be chilled, but I find it easier to handle if it is chilled for 10 or 15 minutes. Make into balls and place on ungreased cookie sheet** about 1-1/2-2″ apart. Flatten with your fingers or a floured glass. Press with fork, if desired. Cookies can spread if the oven is too hot; you can eith use a bit more flour or chill the cookies 15 minutes prior to baking (or both). Bake for 15-20 minutes at 325F until light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes. Let cool completely before filling.
To make the filling:
Melt butter and let it boil until brown (watch carefully, it burns easily). Remove from heat and add powdered sugar, vanilla and 3-1/2 tablespoons of the cream. Stir until smooth. If necessary, add the last 1/2 tablespoon of cream.*** Spread onto cookie halves and make heavenly sandwich cookies.
Makes about 20 sandwich cookies (depending on size of cookie–I use 30g of dough per cookie).
* I like to use a little bit less flour to create a more melting texture so I use 480 grams of flour rather than 500. If using cup measurements, make your measurements scant instead of full, and that will probably do it.
** You can use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper–it makes for easier cookie removal.
*** The filling thickens and sets as it cools so I usually add the rest of the cream after it has cooled somewhat.
Chocolate Cookie Variation:
To make a delicious chocolate version of this cookie, use 380 grams (scant 3-1/2 cup) flour and 90 grams (3/4 cup) dutch process cocoa powder. Valhrona cocoa powder will yield cookies so dark that they look as they’ve been baked by the Devil himself. I highly recommend them.