This month's Daring Bakers' hostess Nicole at Sweet Tooth chose chocolate covered marshmallow cookies (aka mallows) and milan cookies from the Food Network website. Both are from pastry chef Gale Gand and are homemade versions of Nabisco's Mallomars and Pepperidge Farm's Milanos. I've never tried Mallomars and didn’t even know about their existence until Harry (played by Billy Crystal) declared them the greatest cookies of all time in "When Harry Met Sally". Milanos were a favorite snack while I was in college. Back then there were only two varieties - original and mint. Orange, raspberry and others came along much later.
I really enjoyed the mallows. The cookie dough was very straightforward and easy. My only problem was the stated yield in the recipe was completely wrong. I rolled my dough 1/8-inch thick as stated and I was on my way to getting 12 dozen 1-inch diameter cookies. Luckily I only cut out about 50 cookies and saved the rest of the dough for the future.
I've never made marshmallows from scratch and was excited to try it. It's pretty amazing that the fluffy, runny, sticky mess sets up so nicely. It was a lot of fun and tasted much better than store bought. Instead of piping the marshmallow onto the cookies, I made them in a potato starch coated baking pan and cut them into disks after they had set up. Of course I didn’t really think it through and the marshmallow disks wouldn't stick to the cookie. I tried using fruit jam or peanut butter to stick them onto the cookie base but I felt that it detracted from the delicate flavors of the marshmallow and cookie. So I just placed them on the cookie base. The chocolate glaze coating held them in place just fine.
The recipe for the milan cookies appeared very straightforward. But I messed up somehow. Maybe I misunderstood the piping instructions, but I ended up with a lot of tiny cookies. Like the recipe instructed, I used a 1/4-inch plain tip and piped out 1-inch long sections which could give me enough to make over 200 miniature cookies instead of 3 dozen Milano-sized sandwich cookies. Maybe I was supposed to pipe out 1-inch wide sections instead of 1-inch long sections? I actually stopped after piping two sheet pans worth so I ended up baking about 80 miniature cookies.
The flavor of the cookie was okay, but the texture of my cookies was nothing like a Milano. Mine were much thinner than those used in Milanos and were like chewy tuiles. Not good. Maybe my batter was too runny? I didn’t have time to redo the cookie batter so I continued on with the recipe anyway. I made the chocolate ganache filling and assembled the sandwich cookies. I did not enjoy these at all. I should have cut my losses early by only assembling a few cookies for the photographs, saving the ganache for something else and then tossing the rest of the cookies into the compost bin. Yes, I disliked my cookies that much. I felt they were a total waste of good chocolate.
So this month was 50-50 for me. My mallows were good. My milans were bad. I'm sure the other Daring Bakers fared better than I did.
The fine print:
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.
"Mallows" (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Recipe yield per Food Network website is 2 dozen cookies. However, I was able to make 150 1-inch diameter cookies. So if you make the full quantity of cookie dough, you will need to increase the amount of marshmallows and chocolate glaze by 2 or 3 fold.
Cookie dough ingredients:
• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows
1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.
2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.
3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.
4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with cling film or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.
5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.
6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.
8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let marshmallow set at room temperature for 2 hours.
10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.
11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.
12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.
13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.
Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool then proceed with the chocolate dipping.
Homemade marshmallows ingredients:
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) granulated sugar
1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water
2 egg whites, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar and bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.
2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.
3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.
4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.
5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.
6. Transfer to a pastry bag. (I did not pipe my marshmallows. I coated a parchment lined 9x13 inch pan with potato starch, poured in the soft marshmallow and let it sit for 3 hours until the marshmallows set. Then I used a 1-inch cookie cutter to cut out my marshmallow disks.)
(Note: I was able to top 50 1-inch diameter cookies with this quantity of marshmallows. You will need to increase the quantity if you need to top more cookies.)
Chocolate glaze ingredients
12 ounces semisweet chocolate
2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil
1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.
(Note: I was able to cover 50 1-inch diameter marshmallow topped cookies with this quantity of glaze. You will need to increase the quantity if you need to glaze more cookies.)
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Recipe yield per Food Network website is about 3 dozen cookies. My yield was quite different and will depend on how you pipe them out.
Cookie dough ingredients:
• 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
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows
Cookie filling ingredients:
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 small orange, finely 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.