With the cooler weather and holidays fast approaching, it will soon be time to start baking!
Sandwich cookies are two cookies put together with a filling sandwiched between them. It is the storage temperature of the finished cookies that determines what type of filling is best.
Most sandwich cookie filling recipes use powdered sugar and/or marshmallow creme — but I have included sugar free substitutes at the bottom of the page for those who are diabetic or simply watching their sugar intake which can be used to fill your favorite homemade sugar free cookies.
If also watching cholesterol and heart health, Smart Balance (soy based) margarine — used in place of unsalted butter as well as shortening — works very well for any storage temperature being used. Other margarine products vary; use at own risk.
Some sandwich cookies are expected to keep at room temperature, while others are refrigerated, and yet others may be destined for the freezer. Again, it depends upon the the type of storage temperature for the finished sandwich cookie that helps determine what type of filling is the best.
Some very easy and simple to use fillings for sandwich cookies — at any intended storage temperature — are peanut butter, any nut butter, or marshmallow creme.
A thick raspberry jam or an orange marmalade is another option. If too thin, heat 1/2 cup jam or marmalade in a saucepan until warm but not boiling then whisk in a teaspoon of gelatin. Bring to a boil while whisking continuously until thickens — about 1 to 3 minutes. Allow to cool completely before spreading. If, after fully cooling, it is still too thin, repeat. Alternately, you can simply simmer the jam or marmalade to reduce it — allowing the liquid to evaporate until thickened — but it can take time. If it appears too thick after fully cooling, just stir in a teaspoon at a time of the original un-thickened jam until reaching the desired consistency. Cookies using this type of filling will usually keep at room temperature stored in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days; or, they will usually keep 6 to 10 days stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Frozen Cookie Fillings
Frozen cookies and those such as moon or whoopee pies will require either a marshmallow filling or the cooked chocolate or butterscotch cream recipe listed further down, or in the case of an ice cream sandwiches an ice cream — since, with most other creme fillings, the sugar will crystallize becoming hard as a rock over a period of time — or, in the case of uncooked cream fillings, the dairy products used may separate while the sugar becomes too grainy.
Ice Cream Filling
For ice cream sandwiches you may soften the ice cream slightly at room temperature and work quickly to spread it on, package them up, and get them into the freezer before it melts.
Alternately, the softened ice cream can be spread onto a waxed paper lined baking pan at the desired thickness, re-frozen for 4 or more hours, and cut out with an appropriately sized cookie or biscuit cutter. Because the ice cream is fully frozen and the pan is also very cold, you have a little more time in which to work before it begins to melt.
May be used for any cookie (room temperature, refrigerator, or frozen); also, an excellent choice for whoopee or moon pies.
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 cup marshmallow creme
In a medium mixing bowl, blend together butter, confectioners’ sugar, flavored extract, and marshmallow creme. Continue to blend until smooth.
About Creme Fillings
Creme fillings do not actually contain real cream — since it would require refrigeration and real cream is usually not practical for large batches of cookies due to a much shorter shelf life.
However, unsalted butter has a shelf life of about 3 to 4 months un-refrigerated at room temperature and sometimes longer — often outlasting the cookie itself.
Creme fillings are mostly sugar held together with butter and shortening, a bit marshmallow creme for texture, and an extract for flavoring.
About Cream Fillings
Cream fillings contain dairy such as milk, cream, or cream cheese which can spoil quickly. They MUST be refrigerated.
If refrigerated, most cookies will not stay crisp. The cookie texture, when refrigerated, will usually soften and lose any crispness or snap and become more cake-like.
However, they are still tasty and edible — as long as stored in an airtight container so that they do not absorb any odd smells or flavors from other foods also stored the refrigerator.
Adjusting the Consistency of Creme and Cream Sandwich Cookie Fillings
When making any of the following sandwich cookie fillings the consistency can be adjusted as needed by adding a teaspoon at a time more powdered sugar to thicken.
For true cream fillings, milk or cream can be added to thin the filling, or cream cheese to thicken and smooth, but the cookies would then require refrigeration — so only recommended for any fillings below that already require refrigeration.
To avoid having to refrigerate creme cookies, if only a teaspoon is needed to thin to the desired consistency then add another teaspoon of extract instead of milk. If more than a teaspoon is needed, however, cream 1 Tbsp butter and 1 teaspoon shortening together in a separate small bowl then cream small quantities of the mixture at a time into the filling and repeat until the desired consistency is reached.
Vanilla, Chocolate, or Lemon Creme Filling For Sandwich Cookies
If this filling is used, no refrigeration is required. It is the best filling for sandwich cookies which are intended to be kept at room temperature.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
1 Tbsp shortening, at room temperature
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon marshmallow creme
Using an electric hand mixer with either a whisk or beater attachments, or a stand mixer with a whisk attachment, cream butter and shortening together until well combined and fluffy.
Add confectioners sugar a little at a time creaming together well after each addition.
Add marshmallow creme and vanilla then cream together until smooth and spreadable.
Chocolate flavored filling: Melt 3 to 4 Tbsp butter and whisk in 4 to 6 Tbsp baking cocoa a little at a time until a thick but smooth paste forms. Allow to cool for 5 minutes before creaming into the already made filling. Cream into filling until smooth and it is an even chocolate color.
Lemon flavored filling: Omit the vanilla extract and use lemon extract.
Another alternative to lemon flavored filling (but requires refrigeration) is to add some of the following:
Clear Lemon Pastry or Cake Filling
This is good used as a flavoring agent only for the above recipe.
It is much too soft to be used as a cookie filling itself, but it will become too rubbery if enough cornstarch is used to actually thicken it sufficiently for filling sandwich cookies.
However, if used to lemon flavor the above cookie filling recipe, the cookies will require refrigeration.
The recipe makes a little under 2 cups but the left over quantity can be stored up to 5 days and used for filling cakes or pastries.
3/4 cup granulated sugar
4 tablespoons cornstarch
1/8 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup water
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/2 tsp lemon extract
Mix sugar, cornstarch and salt in saucepan. Gradually stir in water. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and boils. Boil and stir 1 minute.
Remove from heat. While still boiling hot, add lemon peel, lemon extract, and butter. Gradually stir in lemon juice and, if desired, 4 drops natural yellow food coloring.
Cool thoroughly at room temperature then cover with plastic wrap smoothing it across the top of the filling so a skin won’t form and refrigerate for two hours or until fully set. Carefully peel away the plastic wrap and stir well before using.
Blend a little at a time with the sandwich cookie filling recipe previously listed above until desired lemon flavor is reached. Afterwards, add additional powdered sugar to the filling afterwards if required to thicken.
Any remaining Clear Lemon Filling may then be used between the layers of a cake and then the outside of the cake frosted with a buttercream frosting; or, it may be used to fill pastries.
Leftover filling can be tightly covered and refrigerated up to 5 days. Do NOT freeze! Let stand 30 minutes at room temperature to soften; stir before using.
Store any items using Clear Lemon Cake or Pastry Filling covered in the refrigerator.
Cream Cheese filling
If this filling is used, the cookies must be refrigerated. Do not freeze.
1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
4 ounces cream cheese, softened at room temperature
1-3/4 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cream together the cream cheese and butter until well combined and smooth.
Add the vanilla and add powdered sugar a little a time creaming together until smooth.
Chocolate or Butterscotch Cream Filling
Cookies using this filling must be kept refrigerated or may be frozen.
1 cup heavy cream
4 oz. cream cheese
4 oz. choice of white chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate, dark chocolate, or butterscotch chips
In a medium saucepan over medium-low heat, whisk together the heavy cream and cream cheese until the cream cheese is melted and combined.
It should also be made hot enough to melt the chocolate or butterscotch chips — but not boiling — for the next step.
Remove from the heat and add the chocolate, stirring or whisking until melted and smooth.
Transfer the mixture to a large metal mixing bowl and allow to cool at room temperature for 15 minutes.
Cover and refrigerate for 2 to 2-1/2 hours or until thoroughly chilled.
Using an electric mixer, beat the chilled filling until fluffy, about 2 minutes. You may also use a stand mixer with whisk attachment if desired.
SUGAR FREE SUBSTITUTES
If diabetic or watching your sugar intake, the following may be substituted for powdered sugar and marshmallow creme:
Sugar Free “Confectioners Sugar”
1 cup granulated sucralose/Splenda (or other sugar substitute that measures cup for cup — only IF not being heated or cooked)
1 cup cornstarch
1 cup powdered milk
yields 1-3/4 cup sugar free powdered sugar
Blend or food process to powdered sugar consistency (about 5 minutes) and store in airtight container.
Sugar Free Marshmallow Creme
2-1/2 teaspoons unsweetened gelatin powder
4 Tbsp water, divided
1/2 cup granulated sucralose
2-1/2 teaspoons sugar free syrup
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
Add the gelatin and 2 Tbsp. water to the bowl of your stand mixer and stir together.
Add the granulated sucralose, remaining 2 Tbsp. water, sugar free syrup and vanilla to a medium saucepan. Bring to a rolling boil and using a candy thermometer bring the temperature to 238 to 240 F degrees.
Remove pan from heat and proceed immediately to the next step.
Using the whisk attachment, start the stand mixer on low speed setting and very slow pour the hot syrup gradually in a thin stream over the gelatin. Use great caution not to slosh or spill any of scalding hot syrup which can cause very serious burn injuries!
Allow to continue beating until the mixture cools down.
Speed up the stand mixer as high as possible without slinging the mixture everywhere and beat until the marshmallow creme has formed, about 12 minutes.
If you do not have a stand mixer, a hand held electric mixer with either a whisk or the beater attachments may be used. Again, use great caution not to slosh or spill any of scalding hot syrup which can cause very serious burn injuries!