Cookbooks smell good
I'll be the first one to sing the praises of Pinterest and baking blogs. I love that they have step-by-step instructions and how-to videos. I love reading the comments and getting tips from regular people who have tried the recipes. But mostly I love that I can zoom in and make the words bigger... because I have crappy eyesight. And honestly its been a really long time since I've used a recipe that I didn't find online. My poor cookbooks have been gathering dust for a while.
That changed this past week when we had flooding in my town, followed by Snowpocalypse 2017 (#wewillrebuild). The heavy rains pretty much flash froze and turned the entire city into a giant black-ice rink. I found that out the hard way when I took my son to school, didn't drive above 15 mph and still managed to slide through like 6 intersections. In my 4x4 pickup. Needless to say, after I made it home unscathed I wasn't in the mood to go back out again.
My sudden day home afforded me the perfect opportunity to really take a look at one of the Christmas gifts I received - a gorgeous cookie cookbook that the boyfriend's aunt sent me. "Dorie's Cookies" by Dorie Greenspan.
I was immediately impressed by the gorgeous pictures! Everything looks so decadent and perfect. But what I really loved was the smell of it. There was something so soothing about sitting on my couch in my quiet living room feeling and smelling a new cookbook. I've been so used to doing everything on my phone and iPad that I'd forgotten about how nice it is to flip through an actual, real live book. I think I'll be doing it more often now.
So I sat there thumbing through it, drooling over everything, and honestly wasn't planning on baking. I'm behind on grocery shopping and didn't feel like ice skating to the grocery store. But after a few pages I got the itch, so I started looking for a recipe that used stuff I already had on hand, and I came upon a recipe for Chocolate Creme Sandwich cookies. It uses the basics - all purpose flour, cocoa powder, unsalted butter, sugar, salt, egg, vanilla extract and powdered sugar.
The problem with deciding last-minute to bake cookies is that you nearly always need the butter and eggs at room temperature. But there are ways to speed up that process if you're in a pinch.
To quickly get eggs to room temperature, just put them in a mug of lukewarm water for a bit. You don't want to use water that's hot or too warm because it'll start cooking the egg.
That reminds me of a Star Wars joke:
What's the internal temperature of a Tauntaun?
For the butter, its best not to use the microwave if you can help it - it will melt the center even if you use lower power. A better method is to heat up a big bowl using hot water, then put the butter under the bowl and let it sit for a while. You might have to reheat the bowl once or twice, but it doesn't take too terribly long for the butter to start softening. Then you can commence with your cookie making.
This starts out pretty basic, mixing together the flour and cocoa powder. Whisk it gently or you'll have a big mess. And use a good quality cocoa powder - trust me on this. If you use the cheap stuff, your cookies will taste cheap. Its worth a few extra bucks to get the rich, decadent flavor.
Put the paddle attachment on your stand mixer and beat together the butter, sugar and salt. Mix the egg white and vanilla, then the flour/cocoa mixture. The dough is ready when it looks kinda crumbly, but sticks together when you pinch it between your fingers.
Then you'll pour the dough out and knead it until it comes together. Smoosh it into 2 discs, wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Roll out one disc at a time on parchment paper to about 1/8 inch thick. This is where its useful to have these little rubber band things for your rolling pin. They come in a bag with a few different thicknesses and help you to roll out your dough to the correct thickness. And they're cheap. I'll put a link at the bottom. They're worth every penny if you're terrible about eyeballing measurements like I am.
Once you roll out one disc, slide it onto a cookie sheet, making sure to leave it on the parchment. Then roll out the second disc and slide it on top of the first. Then cover with more parchment. You're basically layering parchment and the rolled out cookie dough. Then pop the cookie sheet into the freezer for at least 30 min.
Once you take the dough out, let it sit for about 5 minutes or it'll be too solid for the cookie cutter to work. Use a 2"-ish cookie cutter of your desired shape. I used round, but the author used a scalloped edge. These keep their shape really well, so you can get creative. I chose to be boring.
Bake them up, then let them cool for about 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
Beat together the filling, which consists of unsalted butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Glob some onto the flat side of the cookie and smoosh with the flat side of another cookie. I found that the filling dispersed more evenly if I twisted the cookies back and forth in opposite directions while gently pressing down.
The cookies are pretty much done at this point, but you'll want to refrigerate them for a bit to let the filling stiffen a little. Otherwise it just comes out the sides when you bite down and makes a a big mess.
I decided to give these away after tasting one because they are SOOOO GOOD! I hesitate to compare them to Oreos, because that would be sacrilegious. But you could say that they're reminiscent of an Oreo. And one of the boyfriend's coworkers who received this bounty referred to them as "homemade Oreos," so there's that.
I sifted a bit of powdered sugar on top before I gave them away. They don't need it, but I thought it looked pretty.
Another nice thing about this recipe is that it could easily be adapted for other flavors. The filling would be killer with a little bit of peppermint extract and a drop or two of green food coloring. Or maybe even some orange extract, because orange and chocolate are delicious together.
These will definitely be happening again. And check out the cookbook if you can. I think it comes in Kindle form too, but do yourself a favor and get the actual book... and smell it. You won't regret it.
The rubber band measure thingies: