Every year we make Christmas platters for our neighbors and it’s so much fun to pick out what to put on them! This year I’m trying a few new ones and thought I’d test them first before making my friends eat them. These sugared little butterballs have been tucked back for awhile – I just love the looks of them and the name includes everything I love (particularly chocolate ganache….).
They kind of look like they’ve been out in the snow, right? So they’re perfect for Christmas. The buttery bite-sized vanilla shortbread cookies alone were fabulous. I ate a few of those before slathering on the ganache and rolling them in homemade vanilla-sugar. And yes, they were even better after that!
These are easy to throw together, but the dough needs to be refrigerated for at least 3 hours before baking, so plan accordingly. The ganache was super easy and I found that the leftover was great rolled into little balls, rolled in sugar or cocoa and eaten as truffles. Smooth, silky and sigh-inducing.
Vanilla Butterballs with Chocolate Ganache
**** Original recipe at createdforjoy.com. These little two-bite cookies are so different and very delicious. Makes 18-20 sandwiched cookies.
1 C. unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
1/2 C. granulated sugar
3/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. high quality vanilla extract
1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1 1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 tsp. high quality vanilla extract
Chocolate ganache filling:
4 oz. quality semi-sweet chocolate (I used Ghirardelli baking chocolate)
1/3 c. heavy whipping cream
1/4 tsp. salt
First make vanilla sugar so flavors will blend. Put the 1 1/2 Cups sugar in a small mixing bowl and pour the teaspoon of vanilla across the top of it. Stir for a few minutes with a fork until the vanilla is well-blended into the sugar. Cover and set aside while the cookies are made.
In a mixer, beat the butter until soft and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until well blended. Stir in the flour gradually by hand until a soft dough is formed. Shape the dough into a disk, wrap in plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least 3 hours.
After dough is chilled, break off heaping teaspoon-size pieces and roll into about 36 , 3/4 inch sized balls (don’t make them much larger, so they’ll be bite-sized). Make them very uniform for stacking later. Place them on parchment lined (or waxed paper) cookie sheet and freeze for about 30 minutes. While they are in the freezer, make the chocolate ganache for the filling.
Ganache: Place the chocolate, cream and salt into a small heavy-bottomed pan over medium heat, stirring just until the chocolate melted and combined with the cream into a glossy mixture. Transfer the ganache to a bowl and refrigerate until very thickened and scoopable.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place balls of dough about two inches apart on cookie sheets. Bake 10-11 minutes until set (not browned) and cool on the cookie sheet. After the cookies have cooled, assemble by putting a generous smear of ganache on the flat side of one cookie, then place another on top. Roll in the vanilla sugar until well-coated. Refrigerate for about 30 minutes after assembling the cookies so they will set. After that they can be stored at room temperature.
Tips and Stuff:
I mixed the flour into the butter mixture by hand – it came together much better than trying to stir in the flour. Just do it quickly so the butter doesn’t melt from the warmth of your hands.
If using salted butter, cut the salt down to 1/2 tsp.
While they were cooling, I paired up the similarly shaped cookies so they would sandwich together better.
Also while they were cooling, I press lightly on every other cookie so that the completed sugar-rolled cookie would have a flat bottom and sit upright instead of rolling around on my plate!
Be sure and let the ganache not only completely cool, but also to get to the almost hardened stage so it will stick the cookie together well (about 45 minutes).
If you have a vanilla bean, you can scrape that into the 1 1/2 Cups sugar to make the vanilla sugar if you’d rather.