Thursday, October 29, 2009

Chocolate Wafer Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Wafer Sandwich Cookies - October 29, 2009

I don't make sandwich cookies that often. They're usually easy to make but they take longer than drop cookies and I don't always have that kind of time when I'm working. But since I'm on vacation (!), I figured today would be a good day to try one. Most sandwich cookie recipes are generally the same - make the dough, chill it, roll it out, cut out the shapes, bake, make the filling, put two cooled cookies together with the filling to make the sandwich cookie.

A good sandwich cookie to me will offer complementary flavors between the filling and the cookies and contrasting textures which is typically crisp cookies and soft fillings. That's what I like in a sandwich cookie anyway. This one didn't disappoint. It's also from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook and offers the option of a vanilla cream filling and a chocolate filling. Since the cookies were already chocolate, I opted for the vanilla filling. You'll notice the original recipe calls for equal parts shortening and butter. I deviated and used all butter. I can't stand the idea of eating shortening as is, even if you mix it with butter and sugar. Martha, what were you thinking? My instincts were right and the vanilla cream filling made with all butter was pretty tasty (it's butter, what's not to love?).

What I liked about these sandwich cookies was the chocolate cookie was crisp so it was perfect with the creamy filling. And the filling was just the right texture, not runny or too hard, and held the cookies together quite well. One other note about making sandwich cookies: after you bake them and they're cool, match the ones that are closest in size to each other before you start applying the filling. Even though I used the same cookie cutter for all the shapes, some came out in slightly varying sizes. You don't want one big cookie and one smaller one sandwiched together - it just looks weird.

Chocolate Wafer Sandwich Cookies

1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons Dutch-process cocoa powder
½ teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon salt
1 stick (½ cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Vanilla Cream Filling or Chocolate Cream Filling

1. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, whisk together flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla; beat to combine. With mixer on low speed, add flour mixture, and beat to combine, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.
2. Turn out the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap, and divide in half. With floured hands, shape each piece into a flattened rectangle, wrap with plastic, and refrigerate until firm, about 30 minutes.
3. Place one rectangle of dough only a lightly floured work surface. Roll out dough to a scant 1/8-inch thickness, stopping every so often to release the dough by running an offset spatula underneath. You should end up with a rectangle that’s about 14 by 11 inches. Transfer dough to a prepared baking sheet, and freeze until very firm, about 30 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough.
4. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Place one rectangle of dough on a clean work surface. Working quickly, cut out rounds using a 2” cookie cutter. (If the dough begins to soften too much, return to the freezer for a few minutes.) Using a wide metal spatula, transfer rounds to parchment-lined baking sheets, about 1 ½ inches apart. Gather together remaining scraps, reroll, and cut out more rounds. Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Repeat with remaining rectangle of dough.
5. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until the centers of the cookies feel firm when lightly pressed, 12 to 14 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
6. Using an offset spatula, spread 1 tablespoon desired filling onto the flat sides of half the cookies. Sandwich with remaining cookies, keeping the flat sides down. Unfilled cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week. Once filled, cookies are best eaten the day they are made, but they can be kept in an airtight container for up to 3 days.

Yield: about 2 dozen sandwich cookies

Vanilla Cream Filling

1 1/3 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1/3 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Pinch of salt

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all ingredients. Beat on medium high speed until fluffy and light, 3 to 4 minutes. Use immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 3 days. Let soften at room temperature before using.

Chocolate Cream Filling

4 ½ ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped (1 cup)
¾ ounce unsweetened chocolate, chopped
2/3 cup (half of one 14-ounce can) sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Melt chocolates in a heatproof bowl set over (but not touching) simmering water, stirring occasionally. Add condensed milk, butter, and extract; stir to combine. Continue to stir over simmering water until all ingredients are smooth, 2 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside to cool slightly.

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