Monday, August 10, 2009

July's Daring Baking Challenge + I'm Back!

So I’m WAY late for this Daring Bakers Challenge but I have all sorts of good excuses. I was planning on making these towards the end of July and had all of the supplies ready. And then I got the killer flu from hell.

I haven’t had the flu in years and this one hit me like a ton of bricks. I almost said a ton of steel bricks but those don’t exist, do they? I obviously have suffered from permanent brain damage from my fever. I was basically incapacitated for a week, slumped in one of Joe’s armchairs, possibly drooling a tad. I spent most of my time watching awful television because shows like Bridezillas require no brain activity and with my 102 degree fever, I couldn’t spare any strength. I know y’all are just waiting for your own excuse to watch such glorious monstrosities without judgment.

I finished the challenge when I was done dying but by that time I was already late to post. Then I had to move back to school. Then I had to move in to a new apartment that didn’t have internet yet. I almost died of withdrawal but my sanity was saved by my iPhone.
So at this point are you like, “JESUS WOMAN, JUST TELL US WHAT YOU MADE”? Because I’m sort of sick of myself at this point. So here’s the blurb-o-the-month: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.

We had the option of making milanos, the marshmallow cookies or both. I had originally planned on making both but since I ran out of time, I decided on the milanos only. I’ve made marshmallows before so I didn’t feel a burning urge to make them again.


Milan Cookies

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website


12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature

• 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:
• 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.


These were easier to make than I had thought: I was mostly worried about the cookie dough. To shape the cookies, you have to pipe the dough (batter?) onto the cookie sheet. I don’t have much piping experience and my piping set was back at school. Snipping the tip off a ziplock bag ended up working just fine though.

I liked these alright, they looked a lot like milanos and tasted good to boot. The only issue I had with them is that the texture of the cookies was different from the Pepperidge Farm milanos, which have two crunchy cookies sandwiched between a dark chocolate ganache filling. This recipe yielded much softer cookies, more like a crisper madeleine. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing but not exactly Milano-like. My teenage brother ate most of them, which is always a plus.
So now I’m back in Cleveland, braving the ungodly heat wave and thunderstorms. School started and when I stop dying of heat stroke I’ll start baking again.

Brian has graduated and moved on from living with Joe and I but we’ll still see him around. We spent the past weekend with Brian and his childhood friend, Sam, at Sam’s cottage. I met Sam’s pugs for the first time, one of which is the saddest example of a dog I’ve ever seen. The thing must be approximately 200 years old in dog years because she can barely walk from arthritis, can barely see from cataracts and can barely breath from… being an ancient pug. The poor thing sounds like a broken lawnmower, she is constantly like GRUNTGRUNTGRUNT-WHEEZE-GRUNTYGRUNTGRUNT-WHEEEEEEZE. I eventually decided that she was trying to navigate through echolocation.

The cottage is on Lake Eerie, which apparently is a giant tourist destination because there is a giant touristy boardwalk full of weird stores, arcades and bars. At one arcade I won a stuffed triceratops. And by ‘won’ I mean the stoned teenager at the prize desk thought I was cute and gave me a 600-ticket prize for my 12 tickets. Being cute has its advantages, like collecting all the sweatshop made stuffed animals your heart could ever desire.

At one creepy store they sold a variety of things ranging from leather goods, plastic mythical creatures to illegal weapons. Which of course means that Brian bought a switchblade he promptly christened Knifey. I spent most of the rest of the weekend pleading with Brian not to play with Knifey, which of course didn’t stop him from dueling a rose bush late at night on Saturday after a few beers.

Sunday we all headed to a local medieval fair, which was fun in an awkward sort of way. Some of the people working at the medieval fair are genuinely SO INTO the experience that it makes us semi-sane vaguely uncomfortable. Also, it seems that many people are convinced that in medieval times, fairies and dragons lived aside people and ate such delicacies as deep-fried pickles and cheesecake on sticks. It was fun though, except for the part where it was nine million degrees outside.

Another fun challenge, milanos are something I probably wouldn’t have thought to make these cookies on my own. This month’s challenge will be even more difficult so check back to see how I fare!


Katy ~ said...

Sophie, you are amazing. I'm pretty sure the dust doesn't settle when you're well and up and about so it must be quite crushing to be so sick. I am glad to hear you are recovering and hope you are fully recovered before you are back in full swing of school life and work.

Your milanos look wonderful, as if you pulled them out of the Pepperidge Farm bag. I never have good luck piping with a baggie. It always bursts and the dough/frosting is glops out in one huge ugly mess.

alaskagrrrL said...

Yea! You're baaaaaack :) Our world was so tasteless without you!

Yo mama says, "It must have been eerie at Lake Erie, but when in Milan one must eat milanos...(or a deep fried pickle in a pinch)" ;)

Keep on baking and blogging!