I grew up living in the same house with my Grandma. Technically, she had her own house, but our houses were connected, so she was a constant person in my life. She’d occasionally invite her friends over for tea and during the holidays, she always had her best friend, John Leveen, over. Or Mr. Leveen as I knew him.
From a very early age, I associated Mr. Leveen as the “Christmas cookie man.” My memory is fuzzy and I don’t really remember him ever giving me Christmas cookies, but I guess what happened was that he gave my Grandma his vanilla cream wafer cookie recipe. And my Grandma then shared this recipe with my Mom, who has been recreating these cookies for years, long after both Mr. Leveen and my Grandma passed away.
My family refers to these cookies as “Mr. Leveen’s Christmas Cookies” but to the rest of the planet, they’re vanilla cream wafers that simply melt in your mouth. They’re phenomenal. So much so, that my Mom always doubles the recipe when baking them. They’re tiny sandwich cookies that shock you with their creamy goodness.
The actual cookies have no sugar in them and they’re a simple 3-ingredient shortbread cookie, thin and pretty plain. I tasted the batter, as naturally one does, and I spit it out because I’d forgotten there was no sugar added. The magic happens though, when these plain cookies are glued together by a rich, vanilla cream. This is when the sugar comes in. There are only 4 ingredients in the buttercream, which just goes to show that sometimes the most simple things, are the best.
As a cookie sandwich, they’re delicious. You completely forget there is no sugar added in the shortbread cookie and you find yourself reaching for seconds, thirds, and so on. Because, afterall, they are bite sized. What’s a person to do? Christmas cookies, Mr. Leveen cookies, cream wafers, vanilla cream sandwich cookies, you’re free to call them what you like. Regardless, I know you’ll like them.
*Note: Mr. Leveen liked to color the frosting green and red for a more festive Christmas cookie. I like to keep my bakes rustic so I omitted the color but you can easily add some food coloring to the frosting. Or add colorful sprinkles.