Filled Cutout Christmas Cookies
Vanilla Bean Shortbread Cookies
Fillings and Garnishes
Make the Cookie Dough:
In a bowl, whisk together the flour, powdered sugar and salt. Scatter the cold butter pieces over the flour, and using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until you have coarse crumbs with visible pea-sized chunks of butter throughout. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and vanilla bean paste. Scrape into the flour mixture and work the dough with your fingers to incorporate the moisture into the flour. (The dough will appear very dry, and you might think it doesn't have enough liquid, but don't worry, it will come together.) After 2-3 minutes of working the dough, it should start to hold together enough so that you can gather it into a loose ball. Add the ice water, a little at a time, just to finish bringing the dough together so that you can roll it out.
Cut the Cookies:
Divide the dough in half so you're only working with half at a time. Shape half the dough into a disk and set on a piece of parchment paper, lightly floured. Place another piece of parchment paper on top of the dough. Roll the dough out to 1/8 inch thick (you're rolling the dough fairly thin since you'll be stacking two cookies on top of each other to bake).
Sort your cutters and decide which you're going to use for the outline of the cookie, then find a smaller cutter that will fit inside the larger one for the inner shape. I used a round, fluted cutter, paired with a smaller Christmas tree for inside, then a large and small star, and a large and small snowflake. My large cutters are approximately 4 inches in diameter and the smaller ones approximately 2 inches.
Use the large cookie cutters
to cut an even number of shapes, then take the smaller cutters and cut out the center of half the large cookies. Place the base of the cookies on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat; brush
the edges lightly with water, then take the second cookie that you cut
the center out of and place on top of the bottom cookie, lining up the
edges. Press down gently to seal the edges together. You can also bake the small cookies you cut out of the centers, or add them to your scrap pile to roll out again. Gather up the dough scraps, roll
them out again, and cut more cookies, continue rolling and cutting until
you've used up all the dough and have an assortment of shapes. Another alternative to making a filled cookie is to place a smaller cookie on top of a large one and bake it, as you see in some of the photos above.
Chill the Cookies:
Freeze the cookies on the baking sheets for 45 minutes to an hour. This will help ensure that they hold their shape and do not spread out during baking. (When it's cold out, I just lay a clean kitchen towel over my cookie sheets and set them outside on our balcony to chill, instead of trying to make room for the cookie sheets in the freezer.)
While the cookies are chilling, get all your fillings and toppings ready. Stir the jam, caramel, lemon curd, etc, so they are smooth and creamy.
Bake and Fill the Cookies:
Preheat the oven to 350. Bake the cookies (straight from the freezer) for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on the counter so you can fill them. If the centers of the cookies have puffed up, gently press them down with your finger. You will need about 1 - 1 1/2 teaspoons of filling for each, so be careful not to overfill them. When you spoon the filling into the center of the hot cookie, it will start to spread out; use a toothpick to help spread it into all the corners of the shape you cut. Return the cookies to the oven and bake for another 3-4 minutes, until they are a very pale golden (the cookies do not rise or spread) and the filling looks set.
Important to Note during this Step:
Cool the cookies on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then carefully transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then garnish as desired.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen