Monday, July 27, 2009

daring to make cookies you buy at the store

So this month, it is cookies. The challenge was to create two store bought favorites, Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, and Mallows. We could do both, or choose one. Since half-assed cooking experiences seem to be my specialty these days, I chose one. Not so daring, I know. But the tomatoes have blight, and Sadie has hives, and there's a homesick nephew moping around and I know, I know, true daring bakers don't make excuses, but there they are.
The choice was easy. During my picky years, my single mamma opted to just give me what I wanted for lunch every day. I think that it is entirely possible that for five or more years, I got a bagel and cream cheese, two mint milano cookies, and maybe some sort of fruit of vegetable that I have blocked out because I probably didn't eat it. So as you can imagine, milano cookies are pretty near and dear to my heart, although I don't think that I have had one in a really really long time. And there they are, happy and wonderful little milanos, made in my very own kitchen.

Yeah, right.
You knew it wouldn't be that easy. Warning sign one: late night baking (never works out well for me). Warning sign two: I have to use a piping bag. Warning sign three: the directions are perplexing to me. I mean, how does such a tiny line of batter turn into a cookie?

Turns out that it doesn't.

Yes, I think that we would call that cookie FAIL. Although I must admit that peeled off the parchement, these made a good late night binge for us.
But luckily, Joey stepped in with his little artistic hands. He piped much bigger and more even circles, counter to the instructions. Piping is now officially his job. I spread the chocolate, put them together, and they were lovely. But really chewy. Which kind of worked actually. Except I just might have forgetten that although I put two sticks of butter on the counter to soften, I was only supposed to use one and a half. Which I might have realized in the middle of the night. Perhaps it was my inconsistency with the recipe, but these were in no way milanos. Milanos are very shortbready thick cookies. These cookies that we made were in fact, if I remember correctly, what Pepperidge Farm named Brussels. Thin, bubbly and sweet. Did anyone else have this experience?
Well there you have it. Another slightly daring baking experience over here. Here's how you follow in my footsteps...

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.

Milan Cookies
Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website

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
• 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.

For the mallow recipe, as well as links to all of the other fabulous daring bakers's creations, go check out the daring kitchen site. Thanks so much to Nicole for hosting this challenge, and I apologize to her for botching such a nice recipe. Luckily, butter and chocolate can't be messed beyond repair.


  1. Yes, these coookies were more like Brussels! You hit the nail on the head! However, when piped a little thicker, you sort of get that shortbread, thicker middle.

    Your Milanos came out fabulous,Alana..and good on Joey for the help in piping. Ironically, I'm a better late night baker than day baker..not good!

  2. Kudos for trying again, I would have totally given up. They look very tasty...I'm definitely going to try them and change the name too. :)

  3. We were also confused by the piping instructions. Your Milans look very nice, kudos for not giving up (I probably would have) after getting the result in that fourth picture!

  4. I fiddled with the piping instructions with EVERY batch! First of all, she says to pipe an INCH... which gave me MINI cookies! I piped THICK 2-in lines, and FINALLY got a nice cookie shape :D Great cookies!!

  5. I would have given up, so kudos for sticking with the challenge! Great job!

  6. Yes, mine were definitely more like Brussels cookies and I tried a variety of piping techniques. I think heat might have been an issue for me. Your paper cup of cookies looks adorable!

  7. My experience exactly :). My first batch turned out 0.30 inch wide, paper thin, and to boot, they almost burned to a crisp after 10 min in the oven. The end result looks great, though!

  8. I had the same problem with mine so I decided to bake them in muffin tray at the end.
    Great Job and I beat the taste was great!!!

  9. Hehe, your post made me giggle! Mine turned out thin & crispy too, but never having had Milanos before, I didn't know any better. Whatever they are, yours look great in the end, and I enjoyed reading about your adventures!

  10. OMG those used to be my favorite cookies too! cute- glad it all worked out- that piping thing would have frustrated me to no end.

  11. In the end, your milans turned out fabulous, crisp edges and pale golden centers. Beautiful work!

  12. The milans were the only one I did, too, and I also ran into the same problems. I cannot pipe to save my life and so they all came out ridiculously shaped the first time! I ended up using a stencil the second time. I'm glad to see you got success in the end, and I totally agree about the brussels!

  13. Milano reminiscent or not - your cookies look amazing!! Awesome job with this challenge =D!

  14. Also, don't forget. Humidity. It can creep into all baking...Lissa

  15. thanks for your support everyone... I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who's a bit challenged in the piping department.