shortbread cookie sandwiches with basil cream cheese
Well, it’s been quite a year so far. As you may have noticed, I went radio silent for a good chunk of the last year. The last time we spoke, I was newly pregnant and just the thought of food made me ill. I had to un-follow a whole bunch of my favorite instagram feeds because I couldn’t bear to look at photos of food every time I scrolled through. Eventually, I returned to a somewhat normal diet, but by that time our little one was nearly here and I was just too pregnant to cook, photograph and write. Let’s just say I was on a sort of vacation where swollen feet, massive weight gain and hot pepper cravings were the selling points.
On April 10th, we welcomed our own little prince, Oliver Elliot into the world. The past three and a half months have been an incredible adventure. He is the sole object of our affection, and I tell you, it’s hard to get stuff done while he is around. All I really want to do is snuggle and giggle all day long. Luckily, I resigned from my job two months before Oliver was born, so now I actually CAN stare at him for as long as I can keep my eyes open. I have wanted to be a mother for as long as I can remember, so having Oliver has made me feel more like myself than ever before. It’s quite strange actually, to feel more like myself now than at any other time in my life.
As any new parent can empathize, until now, we have been in a bit of a newborn fog. We have been blessed with meals from friends from time to time and have managed to make several complete meals together as a family, but for the most part, our eating has devolved into a sort of hunter gatherer type method. Whatever we have on hand is what we have generally subsisted on up to now. I have been learning what cooking looks like while taking care of a newborn who occasionally has melt downs that require me to step away from what I’m doing for unknown amounts of time. I have yet to return to meals that take several hours to prepare and require close attention. Instead, I find myself turning to simply grilled skewers, fresh salads and many bowls of plump berries consumed hurriedly in between feedings.
Slowly, I have started to bake again for special occasions and this past Monday was one of those. A very good friend of mine, who is an incredible chef, had us over for dinner. Undoubtedly we would be served a wonderfully delicious meal so I wanted to be sure to bring her a treat as a thank you. I had some cream cheese frosting in the fridge from the previous special occasion (my husbands 30th birthday) and I wanted to use it up. So, with that in mind I decided to make a sandwich cookie. It couldn’t be just any cookie though, I wanted it to fit her palate and feel like it was meant just for her. She is a savory person. She cooks, she loves salt and acidity and I’m certain her middle name is ‘seasonal’. I believe this recipe is her in a cookie.
These cookies are barely sweet and deserve a nice cup of hot tea. They are excellent cold (that would be my serving suggestion) and are small enough to feel like you aren’t indulging. The basil is fairly subtle, but adds just a touch of wonderful herbiness.
shortbread cookie sandwiches with basil cream cheese
shortbread adapted from Tartine
makes 12 cookie sandwiches
- 1 cup + 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 3/4 cups + 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
- 1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 3 tablespoons poppy seeds
- 1/4 cup superfine or granulated sugar for topping
- 1 8oz box of cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups (or to taste) powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1/2 cup packed basil, chopped
- Pre-heat the oven to 325 F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silpat.
- For the shortbread, place the butter into a mixing bowl and add the salt. Mix well to dissolve completely. Sift the flour, cornstarch and poppy seeds together into a medium bowl. Add the granulated sugar to the butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add the flour mixture to the butter and mix just until a smooth dough forms.
- With a cookie scoop (or rounded tablespoon) portion the dough onto the cookie sheet. You should have 24 cookies. With an off-set spatula or other flat suface (bottom of a small glass, perhaps), flatten the cookies into a disk about 1/4 of an inch thick. Smooth the top and sprinkle with sugar.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes or until the bottoms are brown and the tops are still pale but look dry. Cool on a wire rack completely.
- To make the filling, combine the cream cheese, butter and lemon zest into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Beat on medium high until combined. Sift the sugar into the mixture, reserving the last 1/2 cup. Mix on high until well combined and the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Taste to check for sweetness and add more sugar if desired. The mixture should only be slightly sweet. Fold in the basil.
- To assemble the sandwiches, fill a ziplock with the filling and squeeze it all into one corner. Snip off about 1/2 inch from the corner and pipe a ball the size of a small button mushroom onto the bottom of 12 cookies. Place another cookie on top, twisting it on to evenly distribute the filling. Cover and chill for at least 30 minutes before serving.