Sparkly Vanilla Sugar Cookies | April 14, 2016

Well folks, we have hit the cookie motherload!  Let me start at the bottom, there are the crispy and slightly chewy, vanilla bean, sugar cookies dotted with coarse rainbow sugar. Then as if that weren’t enough, sandwiched between two of these vanilla-scented beauties is a healthy dollop of luscious, soft, slightly sweet, slightly salty peanut butter buttercream.  I am drooling just thinking about them.

As you bite into the crispy edge of the cookie sandwich, the creamy center starts to ever-so-slowly squish from the middle to the sides as if to escape.  Luckily, the peanut butter is just thick enough in consistency not to completely ooze onto your fingers.  You get a little crunch from the course rainbow sugar sprinkled on top, a little salt from the peanut butter, and are left with lingering vanilla beans on your tongue to finish off your first perfect bite.

By themselves, the cookies are delightful.  A good basic sugar cookie elevated by real vanilla beans and made sparkly by brightly colored sugar.  You could use non-pareils or jimmies but I liked the texture the coarse sugar created.  The key for me is to bake them just so that the edges get golden brown but the middle is still soft and just an eek under fully baked.

Ok, now to make this little lovelies. I pieced these gems together by combining the cookie recipe from Joy the Baker with the Peanut Butter Buttercream recipe of Handmade Charlotte.


YIELDS 18 Sandwiches  |  PREP TIME 2.5 Hours  |  COOK TIME 8–12  |  PRINT PDF


Cookie Dough

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cream of tartar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 tsp of vanilla paste
1 large egg
1/4 cup coarse rainbow sugar sprinkles like India Tree (you could also use jimmies or non-pariels)

Peanut Butter Buttercream

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup creamy peanut butter
1 tablespoon heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla paste
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup powdered sugar


Make the cookies: In a medium bowl whisk together flour, baking powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the vanilla paste and egg and beat until fluffy.

Reduce the mixer speed to low, and slowly add the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. The dough will be thick (you may have to finish incorporating the mixture with a spatula).

Place the  1/4 cup sprinkles in a bowl. Scoop up 2 tablespoons of dough and roll into a ball. Dip the ball in the bowl of sprinkles to cover lightly. Put the balls on a plate. Repeat with the remaining sprinkles and dough. Chill the dough for at least 2 hours.

Place racks in the center and upper third of the oven and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with Tovolo Silicone Baking Mats.

Transfer the chilled dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 2 inches of space in between each ball.

Bake until the cookies have spread and are just beginning to brown around the edges, but are mostly pale and soft, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool on the cookie sheets for 5 minutes before transferring to wire racks to cool completely. The cookies will keep in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Peanut butter buttercream: Add butter, peanut butter and powdered sugar to a mixing bowl and combine on low speed.

Add vanilla paste and salt, then slowly add heavy cream.  Beat until fluffy and smooth!

To assemble, line up like-size COOLED cookies and scoop a generous tablespoon of buttercream onto one cookie.  Use the Tovolo® Scoop & Spread to spread the peanut butter buttercream move evenly onto the cookie.  Atop with the second cookie and gently squeeze together.  Any leftover buttercream is yours to eat without anyone being the wiser.

Eat at will!