Monday, July 27, 2009

July Daring Baker's Challenge

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Yes, I'm still here! The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.

Now in Memphis, the temperature has dropped to a chilly 82, but the humidity at 10pm last night was 89%. Anyone who loves an egg white like me knows this is no weather to be making marshmallows. And it's sort of a bummer, because I love them. Raw, with Rice Crispies, toasted over a fire, on top of sweet potatoes, I am not choosy. But when it is dripping outside and the sun is shining the little devils get sticky as molasses. So I have opted to make only the Milan Cookies. They look a little like a famous upscale grocery store brand, but as with most things, they taste way better right out of your own oven. There are ways to make variations on this gem, adding mint, almond, rolling the edges in almond, white chocolate filling, really your imagination can go to town. The original recipe calls for orange with the chocolate, but I love dark chocolate and raspberry, and I love Nutella, but sometimes I am a total purist, like today. I chose to use vanilla paste. A wonderful product made by Neilsen Massey, the best name in vanilla to begin with. Vanilla paste is basically all those beans scraped from a pod of vanilla and suspended in a sugar syrup. It gives the bean flecks in vanilla products, and makes these cookies heavenly. I baked on convection, but even still with the humidity, they seemed chewy. So here's the recipe as I followed it. Delicious!

Milan Cookies
Prep Time: 20 min

Inactive Prep Time: 0 min

Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min

Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened

• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar

• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)

• 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla paste

• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour

Cookie filling
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.

2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.

4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.

5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.

6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.

7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.

8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.

10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

As an afterthought...the flavor of the cookies alone with the vanilla paste was divine. However, I had to leave the cookies in the oven all night (not on) to dry them out. Because of the crazy humidity, it was nearly impossible to get a great crunchy cookie out of this recipe. But we decided you could slather chocolate ganache on Milkbones and they'd be yummy! Happy Baking!
The cookie below is rolled in almond meal....

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