My best gingerbread sandwich cookies with rum buttercream are a holiday staple in my house. These were developed due to a lack of vanilla extract during my university days. They fast became a hit amongst my friends and I still make them every year as part of Christmas baking. They're really very easy, but require a bit of prep time as the dough needs to be chilled. The recipe can also be made without the booze, using only vanilla extract as a flavouring, but I'd recommend a bit of rum or bourbon for the full effect!
To make the gingerbread, you'll need:
- Softened butter - best to leave this out overnight to ensure its a good consistency for blending with your sugar.
- Brown muscovado sugar - I usually use light brown, but dark would also work.
- Egg yolk (you can save the white for other baking (such as macarons or meringues).
- Molasses or dark treacle - whichever is easier to find!
- Flour - either all purpose or plain flour will work here.
- Baking soda
- Ground cinnamon
- Ground ginger
- Ground allspice
- Rum (or bourbon) - you can also use vanilla if you do not want to use liquor.
While this recipe is for sandwich cookies, you can also use this gingerbread dough for any of your other gingerbread needs - I've made basic cookies and gingerbread houses using the same dough.
Making the Dough
This is a super easy gingerbread dough to mix together. First, cream together your butter and brown sugar until well blended. Add your egg yolk, molasses and rum and mix until well combined. In a separate bowl, mix together your flour, baking soda and spices. Slowly add this to the butter mixture in a few additions. As you combine these, you will find that the dough is stiff and dry. You will want to knead this together with your hands until you have formed a dough. Once this holds together, wrap the dough in cling film, flatten slightly to a large disk, and chill.
Depending on how quickly you intend to make your cookies, this can be chilled in the refrigerator (for at least 1 hour, and up to 2 days). If you need the dough more urgently, you can freeze this for about 20 minutes. Dependent on your freezer settings, this may freeze very quickly and require some time to get back to a temperature that you can work with, once you take it out of the freezer.
In any case, chilling your dough is essential here! Much like pastry crusts, chilling it down will help to settle the butter and make it more workable for shaping. In the case of cookies, it will help your cookies hold their shape when cut and baked, with less spreading.
Baking the Sandwich Cookies
Begin by pre-heating your oven to 350F (175C/165C Fan) and preparing a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat silicone mats.
Once your dough is chilled, it is time to begin rolling this out and forming your cookies. For sandwich cookies, bulky shapes, like Christmas trees, work a lot better than more fragile shapes like snowflakes. It is also helpful to have a shape that is symmetrical so that you don't have to worry as much about matching it up as you sandwich.
I would recommend breaking the block of chilled dough into more manageable chunks. Usually, I split mine into three or four pieces. On a floured work surface, begin to work and roll a piece of this out. You will want to flip the dough and re-flour your surface frequently to best avoid sticking. You may find the dough cracks a bit at the start, due to being a fairly dry dough and also still being a bit stiff from the refrigerator. This isn't a problem and you can knead this back together and re-roll as many times as needed, both to avoid cracks and to use up the dough for cookies.
When rolling, you will want the dough to be about half a centimetre thick. Once you're happy with the thickness, begin cutting out with cookies cutters or a knife. Dependent on the cutter size, you will be able to make around 40 or 50 individual cookies (for around 20-25 sandwiches).
Place the cookies on your prepared sheets and bake in batches for about 12 minutes each (until lightly browning at the edges). Remove from the oven and allow to cool for a few minutes on the sheet, before placing on a wire rack to cool completely. Continue repeating the rolling, cutting and baking process until you've run out of dough!
Making the Boozy Cinnamon Pecan Buttercream
So the key item that makes these the boozy gingerbread sandwich cookies that they are is the boozy buttercream. It is quick and easy to mix up and could be used to sandwich other cookies together, if you're not keen on gingerbread for any reason!
In a medium bowl, beat your icing sugar and butter together until smooth. Add your rum (or vanilla) and cinnamon. Once combined, add in your chopped pecans and mix through.
Assembling Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies
Final step in this process if to assemble the cookies. I'm not very precise in my measurements in terms of the filling per cookie. I would recommend using about half a tablespoon per sandwich - spread this out on the flat back of one cookie and then sandwich together with the flat of another. You may find this isn't enough to adequately cover the shape you've used or you prefer more or less filling. The amounts in this recipe will be enough to form about 20 or 25 sandwich cookies and any leftovers (cookie or buttercream) can be used separately.
The gingerbread cookies will last for about 3-4 days if stored in an airtight container. The buttercream frosting should normally be stored in the refrigerator. If making in advance it is advisable not to sandwich the cookies with the buttercream until nearer the time of serving. This is because the cookies will stale more quickly in the refrigerator.
You can make the sandwich cookies and keep leftovers in an airtight container in a cool place in the kitchen cupboard for a day or two.
Yes! You can freeze these sandwich cookies after they're assembled. They will keep frozen for about 2 months. Allow to defrost for a couple of hours before serving.
Alternatively, you can freeze the dough and the buttercream separately for up to three months. These can then be defrosted, the cookies baked fresh and then assembled.
These are soft gingerbread cookies with a layer of spiced rum pecan buttercream. The pecans offer a bit of texture to the cookie sandwich and the rum gives a slightly boozy hit to the treat.
As there is alcohol in the frosting, this is not cooked off during the baking process and will be a bit boozy. You can substitute the rum with bourbon for another boozy alternative or with vanilla extract to avoid the alcohol if you prefer.
If you like this recipe, try out some other cookie classics:
- Chocolate Chip Sugar Cookies
- Oatmeal Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Date Filled Oatmeal Cookies
- Tahini No Bake Oatmeal Cookies
- Easy Anise Biscotti
Boozy Gingerbread Sandwich Cookies
Ingredients for Cookies
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ½ cup light brown sugar (muscovado) firmly packed
- 1 egg yolk
- ¼ cup molasses or dark treacle
- 3 cups all purpose flour or plain flour
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract
Ingredients for Boozy Buttercream
- ½ cup unsalted butter softened at room temperature
- ½ cup chopped pecans
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1½ cup powdered icing sugar
- 2 teaspoon rum or vanilla extract (see note)
- In a large bowl blend together butter and brown sugar until well combined and creamy. Add the egg yolk, molasses and vanilla/rum, beat to combine.
- In medium bowl, combine dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and spices). Slowly add these to the butter mixture, beating and kneading until combined. Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and chill for an hour.
- Meanwhile, mix the buttercream by adding the butter and icing sugar to medium bowl and beating together. Add in the cinnamon and then stir in the chopped pecans and flavouring. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 350°F (175C/165C Fan), line baking sheets with parchment or Silpat. On a lightly floured work surface roll out the dough to about ½cm and cut with cookie cutter (tree shape works best for filling). Place on prepared sheets and bake for about 12 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool on the sheet for a couple of minutes before removing to a wire rack to cool completely. Spread with buttercream and sandwich together.
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