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.
Yes, that’s right. Mallomars and Milano cookies, both of which I would have never attempted to make myself because I mean really, why try to improve an already great thing. There is something iconic about these cookies and one aspects of their being—if baked goods that come in white bags from Pepperidge Farms have a being—is their complete and utter distance from an oven, mixer, and baking pan.
I used to love these cookies, especially the Milanos. There was nothing better than a mint Milano except perhaps his slightly more circular and crunchy cousin the mint Brussel. Perfection. Because of our past history, I struggled with the idea—and time frame, late as always in baking—of recreating these cookies.
So I went in a different direction. I used the base idea and recipe, but adapted it to be slightly different so as not to offend past memories of a great cookie. The result is great, delicious, but not a Milano. It’s more of a grown-up tangent off a store-bought great. It’s a browned butter, caramel-filled, and chocolate-dipped sandwich cookie. In essence, if a Milano and a pantry cabinet had a child and dropped if off on the beach to get a tan, this is what would result.
At least, that’s what I imagine.
Brown Butter and Caramel Milanos
Adapted from Gale Gand for the Food Network
¾ cup (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
½ cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
6 egg whites (What to do with all those yolks? Make ice cream! Maybe cereal infused?)
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ cups flour
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown ½ cup (1 stick) butter in a saucepan over medium heat, making sure not to burn. Transfer to a bowl and allow to cool. Cream together sugars and ¼ cup (½ stick) butter in the bowl of a stand-up mixer with a paddle attachment. Add slightly cooled browned butter and mix until combined and mixture forms a ball.
2. Add in the egg white and vanilla and beat at high speed until mixture increases in volume and becomes pale. Add in the salt and flour and mix until just combined. With a small (¼ inch) plain tip; pipe 1-inch sections or circles of batter onto a parchment-lined baking pan, leaving at least 2 inches between each section. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until firm and lightly golden. Let cool on the pan. Meanwhile, make filling.
1 ½ cup white sugar
¾ cup water
3 tablespoons light corn syrup
¼ cup (½ stick) unsalted butter
¼ cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup plain yogurt or sour cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Swirl pan until mixture dissolves and then boils. Boil until deep amber then, working quickly, remove from heat and stir in the butter and cream. Be careful, mixture with bubble and steam vigorously. Add in the vanilla extract and yogurt or sour cream. Stir until combined. Return to heat if mixture hardens. Let cool until thick enough to spread. This will take a while, but a freezer greatly shortens the process….
1. Match cookies up with similarly shaped and sized pairs. Onto one cookie, spread a tablespoon of caramel filling. Turn cookies in opposite direction onto each other to distribute filling. Freeze cookies to harden.
2. To dip in chocolate, melt 10 oz. of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate on top of a double boiler. Dip each cookie halfway in chocolate, and then return to freezer to harden. Bring cookies to room temperature before serving. Do not store vertically, or filling will melt out.