Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Vanilla Bean Shortbread Sandwich Cookies with Salted Dulce de Leche Filling for The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap


I have to start off with a confession - I absolutely hate rolling out dough.  There, I said it. Whether it's cookie dough or pie dough, I can't stand rolling it. I don't know why. I will purposely try to avoid making any recipe that requires chilling and rolling out dough. That doesn't mean I won't do it, but I do it begrudgingly knowing I will curse every second I spend with the rolling pin in my hand...
Having said that, rolled cookies are usually the most beautiful cookies around especially holiday cookies. For The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap to raise money for Cookies for Kids Cancer, I wanted to bite the bullet and make a rolled cookie.  I fell in love with this Salted Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookie by America's Test Kitchen, but I modified it a bit by turning the shortbread cookies into vanilla bean shortbread cookies using vanilla bean paste. I love using vanilla bean paste in these type of recipes where the vanilla flavor really stands out and you can see the beautiful speckles of vanilla bean.
Ok, now that you know how much I hate rolling dough, here's the funny part to the story (or not so funny in the moment), but I got so excited that I was almost finished baking and had the exact perfect amount that I needed, that I burnt a batch. I mean burnt. As in dark brown edges instead of beautifully light golden brown. Ahhh!!! My husband rushed into the  kitchen when he heard my screams of frustration (probably thinking I had burned myself) and when he saw the cookies I was so upset over, he asked 'that's burnt?"
Yep! He just  didn't understand, the cookies I was mailing to my fellow Food Bloggers Had. To. Be. Perfect. Period.
Despite the drama (and me being overly critical), these cookies are really easy to make (once you get over the rolling and cutting process), and the pay off is well worth it. The taste is absolutely amazing; crunchy, buttery, "vanilla-y" all perfectly complimented by the Salted Dulce de Leche filling.
I was so excited to pack up these beauties and ship them to Sarah at The Chef Next Door, Jennifer at West Street Story and Kellie from The Suburban Soapbox. Please stop by and show them some love LiveBakeLove style....

In exchange, I received Molasses Cookies from Foodness Gracious , Italian Chocolate Cookies from Crew Cuisine and Chocolate Crinkle Cookies from o taste and see. It was so fun to receive cookies from complete strangers in the mail! And my favorite? All three!! They were all so delicious and so different from each other. I can't wait to get their recipes!
A big, heartfelt thank you to Julie from the little kitchn and Lindsay from love & olive oil for hosting and organizing the event. I am already looking forward to next year!!

If you'd like to participate in this great event, next year please sign up to receive notifications using the following link ( I promise, your heart and your stomach will thank you....

Now onto the recipe....
Vanilla Bean Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
with Salted Dulce de Leche Filling
Makes approx. 36 sandwich cookies

2 sticks unsalted butter softened, then cut into tablespoon size pieces
1 oz cream cheese softened
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup superfine granulated sugar (if you don't have it on hand, pulse regular granulated sugar in a food processor)
2 1/2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste

Filling Ingredients:
3/4 cup Dulce de Leche ( I used La Lechera brand)
1/2 teaspoon course sea salt


In the bowl of your electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the flour, sugar and salt until combined.

Drape a clean kitchen towel over the mixer (or use your shield attachment if you have one). With mixer on low speed, add butter on tablespoon at a time, mixing until mixture looks crumbly (approx. 2 minutes).

Add cream cheese and vanilla bean paste and mix just until a dough starts to form.

Remove the bowl and knead a few times to form a cohesive dough. Divide dough in half. Form each half into a disk and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.

Work with one disk of dough at a time, roll dough out onto a floured surface until 1/8" thick. Use a 1 3/4" cookie cutter, cut into shapes. I used squares.

Place on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375f. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

Bake one sheet at a time in the center of the oven until lightly golden brown, rotate sheet halfway through the baking process to promote even browning.

Remove from oven and cool on cookie sheet for 3 minutes, then remove the cookies to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Once cookies have cooled completely, make filling and assemble.

Make filling

Place Dulce de Leche in a small microwave safe bowl and microwave for 30 seconds to loosen. Stir in the sea salt.


Transfer the Dulce de Leche to a medium size Ziploc bag and make a small cut in the corner of the bag. Pipe approx. 1 teaspoon of Dulce de Leche onto the bottom of half of the cookies, then top with the other half of the cookies and press gently to create sandwich cookies.

Here are my cookies all packaged and ready to ship! I hope they arrive safely & I can't wait to hear how the ladies like them!!


  1. Wow, these look awesome and that filling...I could eat four! Glad you liked my molasses cookies :)

    1. Thanks Gerry! I had so much fun participating in the swap.

  2. Seriously, these look off the charts. Salted dulce de leche is my world. Also, what did you do with those 'burnt' ones - because, you know, I would gladly take em off your hands...

    1. Thanks Sarah! Yeah, I totally ate the burnt ones and gave some to a "friend" saying they were the rejects. She always laughs at what I consider "rejects"

  3. These are some of the prettiest cookies in the swap. Very lovely. Have a sweet Merry Christmas.

  4. Thanks so much Angela! I totally wanted to make something on the "prettier"'side so it's nice to know I pulled it off! : )

  5. Yum! these look delicious! I love shortbread, and I'm sure they're even tastier with vanilla bean!

  6. These sound so delicious!! Your blogging buddies are way lucky--I would love a batch of these in the mail! For some reason I completely missed the cookie blog swap until it was too late, but next year, I am so there!

    1. Thanks Elizabeth! I hope you get the chance to participate next year. Your partners will be so lucky, your desserts are always so gorgeous!!

  7. Just wrapping up a double batch of these for my office tomorrow. They are as delicious as they are beautiful! (About 10 mins for perfect cookies in my oven, btw, for those wanting a baking time.) The vanilla is a great touch. Thank you!

    1. What a great gift, Kenneth! I'm sure they will be well appreciated at the office. Thanks for commenting!