Back to the chocolate and nutella baking lovefest with this one. Although there isn't any nutella in this recipe, I decided to forego making the Quick Fudge filling and just used nutella instead. Nutella and chocolate are a natural combination and, in this case, comes with the added advantage that I don't have to worry about having too much or too little filling for the sandwiches as I still have my Costco-sized jars of Nutella in the pantry. I skipped the added effort of rolling out cookie dough and cutting out with cookie cutters/shapers. Whenever I make sandwich cookies, I roll the dough into cylindrical or square logs, freeze them, then cut them into slices when I'm ready to bake them. It's much faster that way with less fuss than using cookie cutters. As long as you shape your cookie log uniformly, you should get similar size cookies. The only trick is to make sure you cut the slices evenly. I also like to make the logs with a fairly small diameter so the sandwich cookies aren't too big. But I've posted the directions as is for anyone who wants to make them the cookie cutter way.
For the cocoa, make sure you're using a high-quality cocoa since that's where the chocolate flavor in the cookies are coming from. As previously mentioned, I use Pernigotti cocoa from Williams Sonoma. It's a bit pricey but worth it for the rich, dark flavor it imparts to baked goods. I always sift mine first, whether it's lumpy or not. It's faster to sift in the beginning before you add the cocoa than it is to try and get out any lumps in the batter or dough later on.
Beat the butter first until it's a creamy consistency before you add the oil or anything else. Otherwise you'll have butter lumps and those aren't any fun either. The dough ended up being a bit soft to shape into logs but doable if you're patient. Shape it on a large piece of waxed paper and don't make the logs too big. It's easier to handle shorter logs and make them the diameter you want consistently throughout the log(s). Once you have the logs formed, roll it up in the waxed paper and place in the freezer to firm up. The advantage of the log method is you don't have to use a lot of flour or cocoa to roll out the dough and try to keep it from sticking.
These turned out pretty well - the cookies didn't spread so they kept their shape pretty well. Once they cooled and I sandwiched them with the nutella, it was a nice little snack. The edges were crisp but the middles were still a bit chewy so this isn't like a wafer cookie. If you want them more uniformly crisp, I'd bake longer than the 9 minutes the recipe suggests. For me, I liked them as they were although I'm glad I made them small as each one can pack a chocolate punch. I liked them with nutella but I think these would also be good with the quick fudge filling for a pure chocolate experience.
(If you look closely at the cover of the recipe book, the Fantastic Fudgewiches are the 2nd cookie on the right, partially standing.)
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder, sifted after measuring, if lumpy
1 teaspoon baking powder
2/3 cup (1 sticks plus 2 2/3 tablespoons) unsalted butter, slightly softened
2 tablespoons corn oil or other flavorless vegetable oil
¾ cup sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Scant ½ teaspoon salt
1 14-ounce sweetened condensed milk
1 ½ cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels
1 ½ ounces unsweetened chocolate, broken up or coarsely chopped
1 ½ tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
About 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, for topping (optional)
1. In a large bowl, thoroughly stir together the flour, cocoa powder, and baking powder; set aside. In another large bowl, with an electric mixer on low, then medium, speed, beat together the butter, oil, and sugar until lightened and fluffy. Add the egg, vanilla, and salt and beat until well blended and smooth. Beat or stir in the flour mixture until evenly incorporated.
2. Divide the dough in half. Place each portion between large sheets of wax paper. Roll out each portion 1/8 inch thick; check the underside of the dough and smooth out any wrinkles that form. Stack the rolled portions (paper still attached) on a baking sheet. Refrigerate for 45 minutes, or until chilled and firm but not hard or freeze for about 20 minutes to speed chilling. (If desired, the dough may be held for up to 24 hours; let warm up slightly before using.)
3. Preheat oven to 350˚F. Grease several baking sheets or coat with nonstick spray. (I always line mine with parchment paper.)
4. Working with one portion at a time and leaving the remaining dough chilled, gently peel away, then pat one sheet of wax paper back into place. Flip dough over, then peel off and discard the second sheet. Using a 2-inch round or square cutter, cut out the cookies. If desired, using a mini cutter, the larger end of a pastry piping tip, or a thimble, cut away a small hole from the center of half the cookies. (If at any point the dough softens too much to handle easily, transfer the paper and cookies to a baking sheet and refrigerate or freeze until firm again.)
5. Using a spatula, carefully transfer the cookies to the baking sheets, spacing about 1 ½” apart. Place the solid rounds on one sheet and the rounds with the cutaway centers on another. Re-roll any dough scraps. Continue cutting out the cookies until all the dough is used.
6. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, in the upper third of the oven for 6 to 9 minutes, or until almost firm when pressed in the centers; cutaways will bake faster. Reverse the sheet from front to back halfway through baking to ensure even browning. Transfer the sheet to a wire rack and let stand until the cookies firm up slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a spatula, transfer the cookies to wire racks. Let stand until completely cooled.
7. For the Fudge: In a 1-quart or similar heavy saucepan, stir together the condensed milk, chocolate morsels, unsweetened chocolate, and butter over medium-low heat. Heat, stirring constantly, until the chocolates melt and the mixture is completely smooth; be careful not to burn. Immediately remove from the heat. Stir in the vanilla. Let cool until thickened just enough to spread. (The fudge may be prepared a day or so in advance then refrigerated in an airtight container. Before using, reheat it over low heat, stirring until spreadable.)
8. Immediately spread the fudge about 1/3” thick on the underside of each cookie bottom. (If the fudge stiffens, as you work, warm it just slightly over low heat, stirring constantly.) Center the tops over the bottoms. Very lightly press down. Lightly dust the cookie tops with cocoa powder, if desired.
Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week. The cookies can be frozen for up to 1 month but should not be filled and sandwiched together until shortly before serving.