Monday, July 27, 2009

Milan Cookies ~ July Daring Bakers Challenge

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.

Pepperidge Farm's Milanos carried me through many an all-nighter during my freshman year of college. The juxtaposition of crisp cookies sandwiched around firm, smooth chocolate was utterly compelling to me then, fueling those cram sessions, giving me the will ~ and the sugar rush ~ to push on. Now, as I eat fewer cookies and try to choose them with more discretion, I still gravitate toward the Milanos. And they're still every bit as motivating.

But it's not only for this reason that I was beyond happy when I read through this month's Daring Bakers challenge to find Milan cookies. First, they require relatively few ingredients, all of which I had on hand. Second, they're relatively inexpensive to make, and the recipe produces a boatload of cookies. Third, they're truly excellent cookies, and they're something of a cookie celebrity ~ and who isn't impressed by a DIY classic? Especially one as good as this!

I made a few minor modifications: I decided to replace the lemon extract with orange, mainly because I wanted the orange flavor to come through in a dominant way, not just in the filling. I was pleased with this choice ~ orange is the perfect foil for dark chocolate in these buttery cookies. I use a high-quality extract from Nielsen-Massey, and I found that 2 teaspoons, rather than 2 tablespoons, of each extract was sufficient. In the filling, I replaced the orange zest (I'd zested my last orange earlier that day) with a little bit of orange oil.

The only other change I made was to use half semisweet and half milk chocolate, for a more mellow filling. Again, I was pretty pleased with this choice. Since my kitchen was almost 90 degrees on the day I made these, after I spread the filling between the cookies, I let them sit in the fridge for about an hour. Perfection.

These cookies are terribly impressive and require little effort. I would definitely make these again ~ I'm looking forward to it, in fact! Thanks, Nicole, for choosing these!

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network Web site
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)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract (I used orange)
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (I used half semisweet, half milk chocolate)
• 1 orange, zested (I used 1/2 teaspoon orange oil instead of zest)

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.


Liz C said...

I *love* Gale Gand and I miss her show terribly. And I *love* Milano cookies! These are definitely going on my to do list.

Basht said...

they look awesome! good job

Andrea said...

I like the orange idea too and wish I had done it. I don't keep orange extract on hand, but was thinking an orange liqueur would work well, too. Your cookies turned out perfect!

Laura said...

Nice job, Sandy!

Sandy Smith said...

~Liz C: Do it! When you see how easy these are, you'll never be far from beloved Milanos again. :)

~Basht: Thank you!!

~Andrea: I think orange liqueur would definitely work. At the restaurant where I do pastry now, we use very few extracts and mostly liqueurs and they work beautifully. And thanks for the compliment!

~Laura: Thank you!!

The Duo Dishes said...

Awesome cookies! Too awesome. They'd only last 3 seconds.

Sophie said...

Your version of the Milano cookies looks fansasttic!!

They look georgously delicious!

TeaLady said...

Those came out perfectly. Mine looked like little amoebas. but in the end i found a couple I could actually photograph.

great job. You sure you don't work for PF on the sid. HeeHee

Diana H said...

These are actually my favorite cookies. I think I'd like to try out the recipe, Thanks.

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