Saturday, March 17, 2012

Irish Cream Sandwich Cookies

Happy St Patrick's Day!  With all of the heavy corned beef and root vegetables dished up today, alongside dark stouts, and generous pours of whiskey, I was in need of something with a touch of sweet to cut through all of the richness. The now ubiquitous Guinness cupcakes would be far, far too heavy...and given their currently popularity these last years, the chance of someone bringing over a dozen or so was very, very high.

When Meghan posted these Bailey's sugar cookie sandwiches, I was pretty sure I had found the perfect dessert option.  Lightly, slightly sweet, gone in a few bites and still kissed with booze.

Adapted from Meghan's  recipe at Buttercream Blondie 

yields three dozen 2-1/2 inch sandwich cookies and three dozen mini shamrock cutouts.

The Ingredients:
for the cookies
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups flour
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup Baileys Irish Cream

for the filling:
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
6 Tbsp Irish Cream
1-2 tsp instant espresso powder

gel frosting
green sprinkles

The Process:
for the cookies:
In a large bowl cream together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add the egg and egg yolk and mix until smooth. Mix in vanilla extract.

Sift the flour, salt, and baking powder together in a second bowl.  Add the flour to the butter, alternating with the Irish cream.  Mix until just combined. 

Gather the dough into a ball and wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for at least one hour, or overnight.

Roll out the dough and cut out 72 two and a half-inch circles.  Gather and re-roll dough as necessary.  Set aside half of the cookies.  In the remaining half, cut a small shamrock out to of the center, using an 1 1/2" shamrock cutter.  Reserve the shamrocks.

Arrange the cookies on several baking sheets, spacing them at least one inch apart.  Chill for at least 30 minutes before baking to help the cookies keep their shape.

Preheat the oven to 350.  Bake the solid circle for 12-13 minutes, rotating the baking sheets 180 degrees about halfway through baking.  Start checking them after 10 minutes.  Bake the cut-outs and shamrocks for 7-10 minutes, turning 180 degrees halfway through baking.  The cookies are done once they have puffed slightly and the edges turn a light gold.

Remove cookies to a cooling rack.

Allow to cool completely before assembling.

for the filling:
Cream together the butter and sugar, adding the a little sugar at a time to avoid a powdered sugar cloud. Dissolve the instant coffee into the Bailey's and whisk into the filling along with the vanilla extract.

Assemble the cookies:
Once the cookies are completely cool, pipe the gel icing around the shamrock cut-out and sprinkle with green sanding sugar.  Match up each circle to a shamrock cut-out as close in size as possible.  Spread about 1 tsp of filling onto the circle and gently press the cut-out on top.  For the shamrocks, spread with a scant amount of filling and sprinkle with sanding sugar.

Chill until ready to serve.

The Review:
This is a cookie that is greater than the sum of it's parts.  The sugar cookie is, well a sugar cookie.  Sort of sweet, but not really that exciting by itself.  Even with the Bailey's.  For one reason or another, this cookie dough was more of a challenge than other's that I've tried.  But I also abhor rolling out sugar cookies and pie crusts.  It's a wonder I keep making them sometimes...

The filling on the other hand...I could have eaten that up with a spoon.  The filling softened the cookies ever so slightly as the evening progressed...these are a cookie that better with age.  And they were quite a hit with everyone who came over.

The perfect end to a salty Irish-American dinner...

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