Buttery strawberry shortbread cookies filled with a strawberry Italian meringue cream-cheese buttercream.
Freeze-dried strawberries make these dainty little cookies pop with strawberry flavor.
Why use freeze-dried strawberries? For a couple of reasons. One, freeze-drying removes moisture from the berries, which would compromise the structure of recipes like shortbread and buttercream. Two, freeze-drying concentrates the fruit’s flavor. So, a little goes a long way to season a recipe.
Italian meringue cream cheese buttercream is not only a lot to say, but it can be challenging to make. Here are a few key things to remember when making this recipe. Before you begin, make sure butter and cream cheese are soft and at room temperature. If either is too cold, the filling will turn out lumpy.
When making the syrup for the meringue, make sure to dissolve all the sugar before the mixture begins to boil. Do not stir the syrup once boiling. These things can cause the sugar to recrystallize, making the syrup unusable. Use caution when pouring the syrup into the whites with the mixer running. Pour it in a thin steady stream down the side of the bowl, avoiding the whip attachment. You do not want 200-degree sugar slung on you! Also, too much hot sugar too quickly will curdle the whites.
Once the syrup is in, continue whipping the meringue until it cools completely before adding the butter and cream cheese. If the meringue is too hot, the butter and cheese will melt, breaking the filling. After all the ingredients are incorporated, refrigerate the filling to firm it up before piping it into the cookies.
Strawberry Shortbread Sandwich Cookies
- 1 cup butter softened
- 1 1/8 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 egg yolk (save whites for buttercream)
- 1/4 cup freeze dried strawberries chopped into small pieces
- 2/3 cup sugar
- 3 tbsp water
- 2 egg whites reserved from cookies
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 4 ounces butter softened
- 4 ounces cream cheese softened
- 1 cup freeze dried strawberries 25 grams
- Cream the butter. Add the sugar and salt. Mix until smooth. Mix in the vanilla and egg yolk. Add the strawberries and flour. Mix until combined. Roll the dough to 1/4 inch thickness between 2 pieces of parchment. Place on a sheet tray and freeze for 15 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line 2 sheet pans with parchment. Remove the dough from the freezer. Release the dough from both pieces of parchment. Cut cookies from the dough using a 1 3/4 inch cutter. Place the cookies on the sheet pans (20 per pan). Gather the scrap dough and reroll between the parchment. Freeze and cut cookies. Repeat this process until all the dough has been used. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the buttercream.
- Grind the freeze-dried strawberries to a fine powder in a food processor or spice grinder. Whip the cream cheese until smooth and fluffy. Mix the strawberry powder into the cheese and set aside. Place the egg whites and cream of tartar in the bowl of a stand mixer. In a small pot, mix the sugar and water. Place the pot over high heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Do not stir the syrup after it begins to boil. Once the syrup is boiling, whip the whites until foamy. Boil the syrup until it reaches 240 degrees. Remove the syrup from the heat and cool for 1 minute. With the mixer running at medium-low speed begin pouring the syrup in a thin steady stream into the whites. Continue mixing until all the syrup has been added. Turn the speed to high until the whites reach full volume. Continue mixing until the meringue has completely cooled.
- Once cooled, begin adding the butter and cream cheese mixture into the whites one dollop at a time. After everything has been mix in, place the buttercream in the refrigerator to harden. Spoon the buttercream into a piping bag with a large star or round tip. Pipe the filling onto half the shortbread cookies. Top them with the remaining cookies. Refrigerate until ready to serve.