Rum & Spice & Everything Nice: Eggnog Sandwich Cookies

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I am a nice Jewish girl who loves her eggnog. I honestly can’t recall when eggnog came into my life, though it was definitely later on. It wasn’t something I was familiar with as a kid, and the name was most certainly a turnoff. But at some point someone must have thrust a glass in my hand, and that was that! One of my all-time favorite cake recipes is BAKED‘s Holiday Spice Cake with Eggnog Buttercream; I could eat that thing up myself– just gimme a big ol’ spoon and some stretchy pants. There is just something about that creamy goodness laced with winter spices that is begging to be married with all sorts of desserts. That’s why when I saw these Eggnog Sandwich Cookies in Ovenly’s fabulous cookbook, I knew they would be very special. You’ve got spiced cookies with a creamy rum filling, so yes, I am fully on board! Sandwich cookies in general are always a favorite for me, and I found these to be so unique. The sparkly sanding sugar on top also gives them a festive, elegant touch– perfect for your holiday party. (If you’re not planning a party, you probably should… yes, it is a totally rational thing to plan a party around these cookies.)

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The cookie dough is extremely easy to assemble– the spices and rum make it taste just like eggnog! I love sugar cookie dough made with confectioners’ sugar like this, as it produces tender cookies with a fine grain. I’ve never seen a cookie method in which you dissolve baking powder into an egg/booze mixture, but the dough is lovely, so if it ain’t broke… you know. I wonder how it would affect the cookies if I simply whisked it into the flour, but there was no need to mess with it.

One ingredient note that I want to mention: It’s important to use good rum here, which I found out after using The Kraken for Hair of the Dog Cake (shortly after making these cookies for the first time last year). I didn’t think much of it and I had used basic rum from Trader Joe’s, but the filling contains raw rum and had a really harsh boozy aftertaste. I would strongly recommend using a high-quality, smooth rum here– it will make a big difference in your finished cookies. I used The Kraken this time, and that harshness was completely absent.

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A couple of other things:

  • The first time I made them, I dutifully baked all the trays for 8-10 minutes as instructed, but they were underbaked, so I went for 12 minutes this time, which retained the light color of the cookies, but made them a bit more crisp. (They will soften a bit once they are filled, so I wanted a crisper cookie to start off with.)
  • I had to increase the confectioners’ sugar in the filling by about ½ cup to get a scoopable/spreadable consistency. You can use a small scoop, a spoon, or a pastry bag to apply the filling. Even if it’s a bit soft, it will set between the cookies.

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Eggnog Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from Ovenly by Agatha Kulaga & Erin Patinkin
Yields 30-40 assembled cookies (depends on the cutter size)

For the cookie dough:

  • 2 cups (220 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted
  • 16 tablespoons (8 ounces/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt (or ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt)
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons good-quality rum
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3½ cups (435 grams) all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
  • Sanding sugar, for decorating the cookies

For the cream filling:

  • 3 cups (330 grams) confectioners’ sugar, sifted, plus ½ cup more for thickening
  • ¼ cup good-quality rum
  • ¼ cup heavy whipping cream, plus more for thinning

Place the confectioners’ sugar, butter, and corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer and cream on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. (This can be done with a hand mixer and a large mixing bowl as well.) Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and cloves and mix for about 30 seconds, or until they are fully incorporated.

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Whisk together the egg and rum in a small bowl, and then sprinkle the baking powder over it and whisk until it dissolves completely.

Stream the egg mixture into the mixer bowl and beat on low speed until it is barely incorporated. (My mixture consisted of slippery globs moving around and around the bottom of the bowl, and I would have had to turn the mixer speed way up to combine the ingredients further, so I took that to mean “barely”.)

Add the flour and mix on low for about 1 minute, or until the flour is incorporated and the dough has come together smoothly. (The globs I was worried about in the last step came together in a snap as soon as the flour began to blend in.)

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Pull the dough together into a rough ball and divide it in half or thirds. Pat each piece gently into a disk about ¾-inch thick. (I prefer 3 disks because there is less re-rolling of warm dough scraps.) Wrap the disks in plastic wrap and refrigerate until firm, at least a couple of hours or overnight. The dough also freezes very well.

When ready to roll out the dough, preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment paper. Retrieve 1 dough disk from the fridge and allow it to soften on the counter for about 5 minutes.

On a lightly floured work surface, roll out the dough to about ¼-inch thick, lifting, rotating, and flipping the dough as needed to keeping it from sticking. Keep the rolling pin and work area floured as well.

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Using a round or fluted cookie/biscuit cutter about 1½-2 inches in diameter, cut out the cookies and transfer them to the prepared sheet pans. They can be spaced close together because the cookies do not expand much. (I got 16 2″ cookies to a pan.) Gather up and re-roll the scraps; cut out as many as possible each time you re-roll.

Place the pan in the freezer for 15 minutes prior to baking, which helps the dough cutouts keep their shape. Meanwhile, take out another dough disk from the fridge and repeat the above steps for rolling, cutting, and chilling.

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Put the second tray of cookies in the freezer and remove the first. Sprinkle the cookies with sanding sugar and bake for 8-12 minutes, or until they are slightly golden on the edges. (I recommend about 12 minutes for crisper cookies that will hold up to the filling.) Set the pan over a wire cooling rack for about 5 minutes, then remove the pan and allow the cookies to cool completely on the rack.

Repeat the steps above for any additional dough. While the cookies are cooling, prepare the rum filling.

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Combine the confectioners’ sugar, rum, and heavy cream in a large mixing bowl, and whisk them together well until a thick mixture forms. Add the additional ½ cup confectioners’ sugar if the filling is too thin, or add cream by the tablespoon if it’s too thick. It’s helpful to let the filling sit for 30 minutes or so to thicken slightly. (The original recipe says it should be a “thick, but spreadable paste”; mine was softer than that, but I was able to scoop it.)

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Turn over half of the cookies so that the flat sides face up. Use a melon-baller scoop, spoon, or pastry bag to dollop about 2 teaspoons of the rum filling on the center of each flipped-over cookie, then top them with right-side-up cookies. Press and twist gently to massage the filling out to the cookie edges evenly.

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Let the cookies set for 1-2 hours before serving. Store them in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days. The filled cookies are sturdy and ship well for gifts. Happy Holidays!

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© Dafna Adler & Stellina Sweets, 2015.

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