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Recipe

Spiced Coffee Sandwich Cookies

Yield: 22 sandwich cookies

Part gingersnap, part speculaas, and bound together with a coffee-honey filling, these sandwich cookies feel decidedly holiday. A crown of candied cocoa nibs grants an almost geode-like look and underscores the flavors of the filling. Alternatively, you can press the cookies into raw sugar for a sparkling finish.

Ingredients

For the cookies

  • 2 cups (255 g) all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp. freshly ground black pepper (optional)
  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup (200 g) light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 large egg
    1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the candied cocoa nibs

  • 3 Tbs. granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup (21 g) cacao nibs
  • 1/2 tsp. unsalted butter
  • Silver edible glitter (optional)

For the filling

  • 1/2 cup (113 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/4 cup (45 g) vegetable shortening
  • 2-1/2 cups (280 g) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 1 Tbs. honey, darker variety preferred
  • 1 tsp. instant espresso powder
  • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt

Preparation

Make the cookies

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cinnamon, ginger, espresso powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, and pepper, if using.

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and light brown sugar on medium-high until pale and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat 1 minute more. Scrape down the sides again, and add the egg and vanilla. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Add the flour mixture, and mix on low speed until just combined, about 1 minute. (First the dough will look quite dusty, but will suddenly come together as a damp mass.) Scrape the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap, and wrap tightly in a rough rectangle. Chill until firm, at least 3 hours.

Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Roll the dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper to a scant 1/4-inch thickness. If the dough ever becomes tacky, return it to the refrigerator to firm up. Use a 1-1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut as many circles as possible. Transfer rounds to one of the prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. (For any that do not fit on the tray, keep chilled and save for the second batch.) Chill for 10 minutes. Press the scraps together in a ball, wrap in the plastic wrap, and refrigerate as well.

Bake the rounds until dry to the touch and slightly puffed, about 12 minutes. Let cool completely on the baking sheet set on a wire rack. Meanwhile, reroll the scraps and cut more rounds. Chill and bake as directed.

Make the candied cocoa nibs

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Lay half of the rounds top-side up in rows on the prepared baking sheet. (It does not matter if the cookies touch each other.)

Sprinkle the sugar across a wide, heavy-bottom skillet and set over medium heat. Warm for 1 minute, undisturbed. Scatter the cacao nibs over the sugar, but do not stir. Continue to warm, undisturbed, until the sugar melts in spots, about 90 seconds. Using a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, stir the cacao nibs into the liquid sugar, moving around any unmelted areas. Once the nibs are coated, remove the pan from the heat and quickly stir in the butter. Working quickly, carefully use a teaspoon to drop asymmetrical clusters of nibs over the cookies. Finesse the shape with the back of the spoon or spatula as desired. If ever the caramel hardens in the pan, remelt over low heat until pourable. Sprinkle with edible glitter, if using. Allow to cool. (Alternately, let the cocoa nib mixture cool. Pipe a dollop of filling on top of the cookies, and spoon the cocoa nib mixture over the filling.)

Make the filling

In a large mixing bowl, beat the butter and shortening on medium-high until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and beat for 1 minute more. Add the confectioners’ sugar, honey, espresso powder, and salt, and beat until completely smooth and without any graininess, 2 to 3 minutes more.

Pipe or spoon about 1 Tbs. of the filling on the remaining cookie rounds. Place the decorated tops on their bottoms, gently pressing down.

Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

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