This is the other part of The Daring Kitchen website which I joined a month or so ago…remember the fish and the powders? Anyway, this is the first baking challenge I’ve done and I was excited for two reasons: I’ve always wanted to try homemade marshmallows and I *heart* Milano cookies. (Also being nine-plus months pregnant certainly helps in the chocolate craving department.)
Since it is particularly hot here in South Texas in late July, I did have a little trouble keeping the chocolate firm when these cookies were out of the refrigerator. Next time I will omit the oil from the coating mixture…although storing these in the ‘fridge wasn’t all that bad since they were like a cold, cloud puff of sugary treat each time I snagged another. Yum.
The cookie dough was easy to work with (although the recipe as written makes WAY more cookies than needed for the marshmallow and chocolate amounts.) Thankfully, people were already discussing that on The Daring Kitchen forums and I knew to save back half of the cookie dough to use for something else (like blueberry tartlets!) The cookies by themselves are a great little cinnamon shortbread and could be flavored in any number of ways – a handy recipe to have around with or without the marshmallows.
The marshmallows were much easier to make than I imagined. However, they are sticky, sticky, sticky and need to be used immediately as they start to set-up fairly quickly. Just moments before the above photo was taken, I dropped my camera right on top on these and the tip of a kiss went smack dab into the lens cover and lens of the camera. I’m pretty sure the auto lens cover will never be the same again! What a mess!! I think I managed to salvage the camera…at least it is still taking photos. Anyway, there are all sorts of interesting ways to form marshmallows, as it turns out. I put mine in a cake decorator tool and pumped/piped it onto the cookies. Some people spread the marshmallows and then cut them. Others used an old-school flour mold method that looked really cool.
Overall, we loved these cookies and I will certainly be making them again sometime with different flavors mixed into the marshmallows…or a layer of caramel might be nice, too.
Now for those Milano cookies…
Pepperidge Farm’s Mint Milanos are one of my very favorite cookies…I love to keep them in the freezer. So, I was delighted to try making these at home. The cookie dough is really more like a batter and gets piped out onto the cookie sheet…which was a test for my piping skills (or lack thereof!)
You can use a Silpat or a silicon baking mat on the cookie sheet to help get them really thin and crispy. I don’t have an honest-to-goodness Silpat baking mat (but would love one, hint, hint, to anyone who reads this and must buy me occasional gifts!) but my Kitchenaid silicon mat seems to work fairly well most of the time. These cookies take a little practice just because of the shaping issue – since you make them into little sandwiches, it would be nice for all the cookies to be as uniform as possible. Several bakers on the Daring Baker forums noted that if you let the dough/batter sit for a little while before piping, it holds up better and is a little easier to work with.
Don’t be alarmed by the seemingly large amounts of extract in these cookies – those amounts are correct (2 TB of each.) These cookies are meant to have a nice big flavor – much more so than the ones you buy in the store. And because they are so thin when they bake, a bit of that extract cooks off, too. When I make these again, I plan to use mint for the filling…and maybe I’ll even make the cookie part chocolate, too.
It was a wonderful way to spend an afternoon and both recipes were really successful. My 3-year-old was very interested and very involved (puffed sugar and chocolate – what’s not to love?) which is always part of my goal, too. I let him have a big hunk of the cookie dough, his own pastry roller and a handful of cookie cutters and he crafted his own little masterpieces right alongside me. Much better than Play-Doh, right?
(Here’s another super-detailed post from a fellow Daring Baker with more information about these recipes that you can imagine…and also alternative recipes, chocolate blooming information and another great example of the flour mold marshmallow method!)
For the complete recipes, check out The Daring Kitchen’s website.
So, go on – get thee to your kitchen and make marshmallows…and let me know if you drop anything important into them!