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Friday, January 20, 2012

Brown Sugar Sandwich Cookies

Not too long ago, I faced my fear of baking multi-step cupcakes for a birthday celebration at work. Multi-step cookies are on the same page in my book. I can make chocolate chip cookies and snickerdoodles like it's my job. Throw a few more steps and make it more complicated - my confidence flees as well. I guess that's progress though?

As I'm becoming more confident in the kitchen, I notice that I can handle kitchen adversity surprisingly well. Take these cookies for instance. When I read whole wheat pastry flour, I thought of the whole wheat flour that I had in my pantry. I set about making the recipe but something did not seem right. It was gritty, grainy, and similar to something that I might find in DJ's sandbox at school. Frustrated but not defeated, I tried again. This time, with regular flour with a wonderful result that reminded me of my favorite store-bought cookies, Milanos. I have adapted the recipe slightly to reflect the different variety of flour. 


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
scant 1 teaspoon salt
6 ounces (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
2/3 cup good-quality brown sugar / natural cane sugar
2 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2-3 tablespoons milk

1 tablespoon big flaky sea salt (optional)
1 tablespoon turbinado sugar (optional)
6-7 ounces dark chocolate, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 - racks in the top 1/3 of the oven.

In a medium bowl whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside. In a separate bowl, either by hand or with an electric mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy and creamy. Add the sugar and mix some more, scraping the sides of the bowl once along the way. Mix in the egg yolks and vanilla extract, scraping the sides again if needed.

Being careful not to over-mix, stir in the flour mixture by hand. If the dough is on the dry side stir in the milk as well. Turn the dough out onto the counter-top, kneed it once or twice (just so it comes together) to form one large ball.

Cut the dough into four quarters and shape each piece into a ball. Flatten each of the four balls into 1/2-inch thick pancakes, and wrap each piece individually in plastic before chilling in the refrigerator for at least a half an hour.

Roll out the dough thin as can be on a lightly floured surface - wafer thin, about 1/8-inch, and stamp out using the cookie cutter. Arrange cookies 1-inch apart on prepared baking sheets before sprinkling with a small pinch of salt and sugar. Bake for about seven minutes on a parchment-lined baking sheet or until the cookie edges are golden brown. Remove from oven and cool completely on a rack.

When ready to assemble the cookies, place the chocolate in a double boiler (or a bowl placed over a bit of simmering water) to melt. Spread about 1/2 teaspoon of melted chocolate onto the center of the flat side of one cookie. Top with another cookie - matching flat side to flat side. Repeat with the remaining cookies, setting them aside to let the chocolate set.

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