The July Daring Bakers challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies and Milan cookies by pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
So yesterday, before I weeded the tomato garden but after the required Sunday morning blueberry pancakes, I got to work. I always say that Husband and Mom have the same taste in sweets. Hand the two of them some marshmallows -- or marshmallow fluff -- and they will be happy campers. So I was especially excited that this month's challenge involved homemade marshmallow, as Husband has been asking me for some time to try my hand at them. And I knew I could easily pawn off a good number of the finished marshmallow cookies on Mom, so they weren't loitering around my kitchen quietly -- and chocolately -- negating the benefits of my nascent running routine. Mom will look at the tin of cookies, mutter something like, "Mallows..." in a hushed tone that makes it seem like she is getting away with something, then she'll be off, whisking herself and the mallows away for secret eating.
As for the Milan cookies, they are a homemade version of Pepperidge Farm's Milano cookies. I remember eating Milano cookies a lot when I was young and thinking that they were very grown-up and sophisticated -- much fancier and more mature than those childish Chips Ahoy. I would pull them out of my lunch bag in 4th grade and feel like a gourmand, like someone with a very special and very sweet secret. Yes, these are the things I thought about in 4th grade. Along with how to meet Michael Jackson.
Anyway. You can see why I made these Daring Baker cookies a priority this month, even when I would have preferred to rest and relax or maybe even take a nap instead of baking them down to the wire in a harried fashion. I can relax tomorrow.
And while I'm relaxing tomorrow, I will be doing so with a mallow and a Milan cookie in my hand.
MALLOWS (CHOCOLATE-COVERED MARSHMALLOW COOKIES)
Adapted from Gale Gand
These cookies need some chilling time in the fridge, and some cooling time after they're baked. So be sure to take that into account when planning to bake them.
For the cookies:
3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. sugar
1/2 t. kosher salt
3/4 t. baking powder
3/8 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
12 T. unsalted butter, cut into pieces
3 large eggs, beaten
Homemade marshmallows (recipe follows)
Chocolate glaze (recipe follows)
First, make the cookies. Combine the flour, sugar, salt, baking powder, baking soda and cinnamon in the bowl of an electric mixer. Whisk to combine. Add the butter to the dry ingredients and, using the paddle attachment, mix on low speed until the butter is incorporated and the mixture appears sandy. Add the eggs and mix well. Form the dough into a disk and wrap with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 3 days.
When you're ready to bake the cookies, preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough until it's 1/8-inch thick. Use a or 1 1/2- or 2-inch round cookie cutter to cut out cookies; re-roll the dough scraps to cut more cookies.
Transfer to the baking sheet and bake for 10-11 minutes, or until light golden brown. Transfer to a cooling rack and let the cookies cool to room temperature.
While the cookies are cooling, make the homemade marshmallow.
When the cookies are cool, pipe a "kiss" of marshmallow on each cookie. Let the cookies set at room temperature for 2 hours.
During the last 15 minutes of this resting time, make the chocolate glaze.
Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the chocolate glaze and roll to coat completely. Lift the cookie out of the glaze with a fork and allow excess to drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared pan and set at room temperature until the chocolate has cooled, 1-2 hours. My chocolate didn't set at room temperature, so I placed the cookies in the freezer for a few hours to harden the chocolate. And, it turns out, I liked the taste of them cold.
For the homemade marshmallow:
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. light corn syrup
3/4 c. sugar
1 T. powdered gelatin
3 T. cold water
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 t. vanilla extract
Combine the 1/4 c. water, corn syrup and sugar in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan. Bring it to a boil over medium heat and cook until it registers 235 degrees Fahrenheit on a candy thermometer (soft ball stage).
Sprinkle the gelatin over the 3 T. cold water and let dissolve.
Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin mixture to it and whisk to combine.
Using an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until soft peaks form. Pour the syrup into the egg whites in a slow stream. Add the vanilla and continue mixing on high speed until the mixture thickens.
Transfer the mixture to a piping bag fitted with a 1/4- or 1/2-inch plain tip. Allow the marshmallow to rest in the piping bag for about 5 minutes before using.
For the chocolate glaze:
24 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
4 oz. vegetable oil
Combine the chocolate and vegetable oil in a double boiler or a heat-proof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt the ingredients, stirring occasionally to combine. Use immediately.
Makes about 24 cookies. Store the cookies in the refrigerator or freezer...preferably the freezer.
Adapted from Gale Gand
For the cookies:
12 T. unsalted butter, softened
2 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
6 egg whites
2 T. vanilla extract
2 T. lemon extract
1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1/2 c. heavy cream
8 oz. semisweet chocolate, chopped
Zest of 1 orange
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpats.
Cream the butter and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the egg whites gradually, mixing to combine well. Add the vanilla and lemon extracts; mix to combine. Add the flour and mix until just combined.
Place the batter in a pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/2-inch tip. Pipe 2-inch "lines" of batter onto the prepared pan, spacing them about 2 inches apart.
Bake for 10 minutes, until light golden brown around the edges. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on the pan.
\While waiting for the cookies to cool, make the filling. Place the chocolate in a bowl. Place the cream in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan and scald over medium heat. Pour the cream over the chocolate; whisk to melt and combine.
Add the zest and blend well. Set aside the mixture and allow it to cool at room temperature (the mixture will thicken as it cools).
Assemble the cookies. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat sides of the cookie, then press the flat side of a second cookie on top. Repeat with the remaining cookies (duh; if you quit after filling just one cookie, that would be very lame indeed).
Makes 3 dozen cookies.