July 27, 2009

It's Cookies This Time - Milanos and Not-Mallows: Daring Bakers Challenge July, 2009


The end of the month signifies one thing in the Daring Baker world. It's time for all of us to post our experiences with that month's challenge, successful or otherwise.
This July, the 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 were given the choice of making any one cookie or both.

For this month's Daring Baker challenge, we were asked to bake two different cookies, both of which featured one of my favourites – chocolate! It was a different matter that I had never heard of either cookie before.



My Milano Cookie Experience:


Apparently, a Milano is a sandwich cookie with chocolate in the middle and extremely popular in the U.S. In India, the Milano is a chocolate chip chocolate cookie of the slightly more expensive variety which is sold as a "cookie for the grown up". I'm not sure how successful this market strategy has been, as in India, cookies are normally considered a treat for children.

As is my usual practice, I decided to see if our "alternative group" had any eggless options to these cookies. There is a vegan recipe for Milanos in the book, "Vegan Cupcakes Take Over The World", which can be seen on their website too. I made my cookies using that recipe. You can find the link to the printable versions of this month's challenge recipes at the end of this post.

The only change I made there was to substitute the rice milk/ soy milk with milk. I also added a tbsp of cocoa powder to half the dough as I wanted to sandwich one vanilla cookie with one chocolate cookie to make my Milanos.

My cookie dough was a bit oily and not smooth enough, and my "Milano shaped" cookies ended with cracked edges. I didn't quite envisage this and have no idea why this happened, as other DBers who used this recipe made good cookies.



I decided to salvage my cookie dough by rolling it out to about 1/8" thin and cutting out the cookies with a cutter. Now my cookies looked prettier and had no rough edges either. I baked the cookies as instructed and sandwiched them with the chocolate filling.
As good as these cookies were, they still didn't match my expectations of what I thought the Milano cookie would be like. For someone who has never seen a Milano, this was a slightly unrealistic expectation to have.

So I went ahead and attempted the challenge recipe scaled down to a quarter. This meant using only 1 eggwhite, about 7 or 8 cookies (according to the instructions) and minimal wastage if the cookies didn't turn out right.




My first set of cookies spread out quite a bit looking quite unlike any cookies I've ever seen. I managed to
make them look decent by drizzling leftover melted chocolate over them.




My next two batches turned out the right shape, which made me quite happy. They were a bit on the smaller side than I expected, but I think that's the size they're meant to be as I did pipe the cookie batter as instructed. I let the cookies cool, sandwiched them with melted chocolate and voila, Milano cookies!



Verdict:

While my rolled and cut out eggless Milano cookies looked pretty and were good, I didn't feel there was anything special or unusual about them. If you are looking for a reasonably good eggless cookie, then this recipe makes them.

The Milano cookies I made with the challenge recipe were much nicer in texture, crisp at edge and slightly chewy in the middle. About two hours after they had cooled down,however, the cookies became quite soft and lost any hint of crispness.

I seem to have lose-lose (as opposed to a win-win) situation here when it comes to the weather and some kinds of baking. Either the summer is too hot when all things buttercream (and such stuff) become soft/ melt, or the high humidity ensures that certain crisp bakes become spongy in texture!

If these Milano cookies taste the same as the famed Pepperidge Farm Milano cookies, I really do not understand what makes them so popular. I found them good, but not particularly spectacular. Of course, this is just my personal opinion.



The Not Mallow Chocolate Covered Cashew Marzipan Cookies


Making the chocolate covered marshmallow cookies was out of question for me, as marshmallows contain gelatin, which is not vegetarian. Yet the many lovely marshmallow cookies I kept seeing at the DB forums made me wish I could make them.

An alternative to gelatin suggested by some was "xanthan gum" which isn't available here. Agar, which is the usual substitute for gelatin in most things, doesn't work in marshmallows.




Then a fellow Daring Baker, who doesn't like marshmallows, made her Not Mallow cookies using marzipan instead of the marshmallows. I decided to follow suit, as I had been feeling a little sad at not being able to make a cookie covered with that magic ingredient, chocolate!

I made my marzipan using Jugalbandi's Vegan Marzipan recipe.
While making these cookies, we were told to leave them at room temperature for a couple of hours to allow the chocolate coating to set. Given the warmth and high humidity here, I put them in the fridge straight away. I'm happy to report that my cookies were perfect, though many fellow DBs complained that their refrigerated cookies developed a chocolate "bloom".




My halved and slightly altered version of the challenge recipe (I substituted flax seed for the eggs and cardamom for the cinnamon) is given below:


Ingredients:


1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1/4 cup white sugar

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp baking soda

1 teaspoon ground cardamom

6 tbsp (80gm) salted butter, softened and at room temperature

1 tbsp flax seed powder + 3 tbsp warm water (whisk together)



Method:


Blend the dry ingredients in a bowl. Add the butter and using an electric mixer, mix till the mixture is sandy. Add the flax seed powder-water mixture and mix till combined. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate for at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.

Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes at 190C or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.
You can store the cookies in an airtight container till you're ready to top them and cover them with chocolate.




Otherwise, place a small ball of marzipan (recipe follows) on each cookie, and smooth the marzipan ball down to cover the edges of the cookie. The cookie will look like it has a marzipan dome.

Line a cookie sheet with aluminium foil, parchment or silicon mat.
One at a time, gently drop the marzipan-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.



Verdict:


According to the recipe, my halved version should have given me about 1 dozen cookies. What I ended up with was over 50 cookies!!!
The cookies in themselves were quite good, a bit like shortbread and some where in between crisp and cake-like in texture. My daughter liked them plain and since I had so many cookies, I topped and coated only about 15 of them in chocolate.

The chocolate covered marzipan topped cookies were just heavenly. There was something very satisfying about biting into something chocolatey and encountering the textures of soft marzipan and a slightly crunchy cookie.
This part of this month's challenge got our full votes and this cookie is something I shall be experimenting with again.


Now you just have to see what magic the other Daring Bakers have been weaving with cookies, chocolate and marshmallow.




60 comments:

Mishmash ! said...

I loved the second last pic ... Gorgeous leaf:)

Cakelaw said...

Lovely job on both cookies Aparna. I love your mallows in particular - very cute.

shaz said...

Great job Aparna, the Milanos look beautiful! So do the not-mallows :)

Andhra Flavors said...

Milanos look tempting.

Priya Narasimhan said...

The pictures are too good...Happy to see eggless ones..Looks like I am bookmarking every recipe of yours.. :-)

A 2 Z Vegetarian Cuisine said...

Looks fantastic. The milano cookies do look like Pepperidge farm's. Your pictures are so beautiful.

Nithya said...

Absolutely amazing.. wish I can eat them right away.. all the pics are at their best. your photography rocks :)

♥♥♥Ria♥♥♥ said...

Ah! What a delight... I loved that leaf pic soooo much! They look so adorable! And I bet that mallows tasted yum! It really looks delish!And you milanos look real nice...abt the vegan version ...no comments! Even I was a victim ;)

Hari Chandana said...

WOWW!!!.... looks amazing.. wonderful clicks!!

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

Your cookies are very beautiful and so tempting! You did a great job!

Cheers,

Rosa

alice said...

Bravo, beautiful job!

Manisha said...

I think Milanos are overrated. But then I prefer savory to sweet as a treat any day. I applaud your tenacity and efforts! I would have given up before I even started!

Lisa Michelle said...

Aparna, with all that lemon extract, NO, they don't really taste much like the Pepperidge Farm Milanos, hence why I left most of it out. I'd be more than happy to send you some packages of Pep Farm Milanos..just let me know!

That said, yours came out lovely, even though you did not care for them, and I love your almond paste 'mallomars'. Beautiful photos as always too. :)

♥Deeba @Passionate About Baking♥ said...

Jolly good Aparna. I like the marzipan twist to the mallow. You worked hard for the cookies...good for you! I managed just the mallows & fell in love with them!

Tartelette said...

You did absolutely fantastic on the challenge! Great call about the marzipan substitution, I'll have to keep that in mind!

Parita said...

Gorgeous cookies, loved the marzipan ones, looks delicious!

jayasree said...

Gorgeous pics. Liked the marzipan ones. Lovely presentation.

Zita said...

Wow...love all the shapes you made with the cookies, I did set my cookies in the fridge but I wish they survive the heat to take beautiful picture like you did :)

Roma said...

loved this post. Great pics , Aparna!

Alli said...

what perfectly shaped Milano cookies you made! My piping bag split so I had to resort to spooning most of mine out!

Karen said...

I agree with you 100%. This cookies were nothing spectacular and certainly wasn't tasty enough to warrant all the dramas I had with it!

Your Milan shapes are great! Mine ended up deformed :(

Jo said...

Gorgeous cookies and lovely pictures. Great job on this month's challenge.

Nithya said...

I have nominated you for the Kreativ blog award. Kindly take it from my blog please. :)

Yasmeen said...

Fabulous! I went nuts thinking about substitute for the marshmallows,glad to know marzipan works :D

Dharm said...

Great Job Aparna!! PErsonaly, I think the Pepperidge Farm cookies are nicer... But it was still fun being able to make my own Milanos. So impressed that you did BOTH! What a great idea to use marzipan!

isa said...

I love your marzipan twist to the mallow and your Milan shapes are very beautiful!
Great job!

chakhlere said...

Those are some amazing cookies...and snaps are just gorgeous!!

Audax said...

Wonderful you did 3 attempts at the milanos each looks better and better. And the marzipan is a great idea so much better in your climate. Good to hear the chocolate worked out so well. Bravo bravo bravo. Cheers from Audax in Australia

Anula said...

Your milano cookieslook great!!! I love your not mallows ;) they had to be delicious... Asalways - great job! Cheers :)

glamah16 said...

Great idea to use marzipan for marshmallow. Shame the agar wouldnt work.Great job.

Elra said...

You did very well with this challenge Aparna. It shows!

Lauren said...

Yum!! Beautiful job on this challenge!! I love the shapes of milanos you made =D, and the marzipan sounds like a wonderful egg-less alternative!

Hannah said...

What an incredibly creative solution to your marshmallow conundrum! Love the sound of that cookie as well... Marzipan is just such a wonderful treat.

Jenni said...

Your cookies look wonderful! I love the stars!

Susan/Wild Yeast said...

You did make the Milan cookies look just like the Milanos sold here. I love Milanos (especially the mint variety) but they are crisp and not soft like this recipe. Your marzipan cookies are to die for!

singinghorse said...

In spite of the challenge you faced in the milanos, your cookies came out really beautiful and yummy. The chocolate coating and decoration is elegant. Your marzipan looks amazing too. I will also consider that option in the future. Thanks for sharing all of your beautiful photos!

Jen said...

I love the idea of the marzipan as a marshmallow substitute!

Justin said...

wow, those must have been soooo rich with marzipan instead of marshmallows...

Eat4Fun said...

I, too, preferred the Mallows over the Milanos.

Here in the US, Milanos are closer to thin shortbread cookies than the tuile-like cookies we made for the challenge.

The marzipan variation sounds very delicious and something I'll keep in my back pocket the next time around.

Yes... the recipe make much more than two dozen cookies. I only used 1/3 of the dough and ended up with around 40 cookies.

Namratha said...

Marzipan sounds good, nicely presented!

Marillyn "Mare" Beard said...

Love your recipes and photos! My dream is to visit India someday. I LOVE their food. I like to visit different countries based on their food :o) Check out my blog... I nominated you for the Kreative Blogger Award!

veggie belly said...

I'm drooling all over this! Love the star shaped cookies!

Helene said...

You did such an amazing job, they are beautiful.

MeetaK said...

i was not very impressed with the milanos but both your creations look great aparna!

Nags said...

that's some patience, trying both!! hats off :)

Bergamot said...

I liked the star shaped cookies a lot...actually all the pics are great.. yummy!!!

veron said...

Great job on the cookies and fabulous pictures too!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Wow!You really worked hard for this challenge, making 3 recipes!! They all look great, and awesome idea with the marzipan!

P.S - The picture with the dried leaf looks sooo good!!

Soma said...

Even before i read i was thinking they look like pepperidge farm cookies. All of them look great aparna.

Natashya said...

You did a wonderful job, I love all the shapes and sizes you made. (And I found the cookie base made a bazillion too!)

Elissa said...

I also thought the milanos weren't as good as the real thing, but yours look so lovely. Even the ones that you thought didn't turn out, they still look so good with the drizzle of chocolate! Beautiful cookies :)

The Purple Foodie said...

Hey Aparna, you are one diligent daring baker! I just made the milan cookies. All of them look great. The star shaped ones are especially cute! So I can see that the papers dried leaf are from paperworks at campal right? I bought some gorgeous sheets from there as well and those leaves too. What a coincindence!

Celeste said...

Aparna, your cookies look fantastic! You did an amazing job this month!

creampuff said...

Well done, Aparna! I especially liked reading about how you adapted the chocolate covered "marshmallow" cookies!

Jill said...

So many great pictures of this challenge! I love that you were creative and made the marzipan adaptation of the cookies. :)

Christina said...

Beautiful job on both cookies! They look fantastic!

Jamie said...

Both of your creations look fabulous! I loved making the mallows!

culinography said...

What wonderful cookies, Aparna! I love the milanos with the drizzle of chocolate across the top! Wonderful "mallows," too... I think I'm going to give that a try!

madcapcupcake said...

Aparna, you are GENIUS - marzipan! Here I was, wracking my brain for an alternative to marshmallow...marzipan is the perfect choice! I think all your cookies are beautiful - and such wonderful pics! I'm off to peruse your delicious looking gelato... :)

Vera said...

They certainly do look wonderful, Aparna!