Some years back when my wife and I used to throw annual Christmas Eve or New Year’s Eve parties, I used to cook many many different dishes and serve food buffet-style, as people would randomly come and go during these hours-long parties. Part of that would involve serving desserts, which, for practicality’s sake, involved several types of cookies because they could be made well ahead of time, saving me time at the party for cooking the main dishes.
One of the types of cookies I would make are what this posting is all about. I feel these are about the best cookies I’ve ever tasted, either home made or store bought. They were quite popular at the parties, so I thought I’d share the recipe here. It actually dates back to a 2009 Food & Wine issue, and I haven’t had a better cookie since.
So, forget about the huge amount of butter and sugar in these, and indulge yourself and your family in a truly special batch of cookies. This recent batch I made resulted in about 40 or so paired sandwich cookies.
What you’ll need for the cookies:
- 1.5 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 0.5 cups light brown sugar
- 0.5 cups granulated sugar
- 6 oz high-quality milk chocolate, melted and allowed to slightly cool
- 1T vanilla extract
- 1.75 cups all-purpose flour
- 2T unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1t baking soda
- 0.5t salt
What you’ll need for the filling:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
- 0.5 cups chocolate malt powder (think Ovaltine)
- 0.5t vanilla extract
- 2 cups powdered sugar
What to do for the cookies:
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and line to baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl beat the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar with an electric mixer until smooth. Add the melted (and somewhat cooled) chocolate and vanilla, then continue to beat until smooth.
In a different bowl, whisk the flour with the cocoa powder, baking soda and salt. Gradually add the dry ingredient mixture to the wet mixture and slowly beat until all the dry ingredients are just incorporated.
This is an important step: roll the dough between two pieces of parchment paper until about 0.25-inch thick. You may have to split the dough in half and roll out two sheets of it. Refrigerate 15-30 minutes or until firm.
When firm, remove from the fridge (one sheet at a time, if two) and using a two-inch cookie cutter, stamp out as many cookies as possible, transferring them to the parchment-paper-lined baking sheets, about an inch apart. Gather the scraps, re-roll between parchment paper, refrigerate again until firm, then stamp out more. Continue this cycle until you’re out of dough. When I was doing this step, I would let one sheet of cookies cook while stamping out another sheet. There was just enough time between the batches cooking to do this.
When ready, cook in the lower rack(s) of the oven for about 10 minutes, or until they’re dry. When done, cool the cookies on a rack.
What to do for the filling:
Begin making the filling while the cookie rounds are cooling.
In a medium bowl beat the butter and chocolate malt powder at a medium speed until well mixed—takes about 3 minutes. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat at low speed until the sugar is incorporated into the butter and you now have a frosting the consistency of Oreo cookie filling.
Now you’re ready to assemble the cookies. Pair the cookies on your work surface bottom-side up. The reason you need to pair them is because it is almost impossible to make the dough a uniform thickness, so some cookies will be thicker than others, and the thicker ones spread out a bit more than the thin ones, so the cookie size will vary a bit (see photos).
Using a frosting bag (or whatever they’re called) pipe a glob of frosting on one of each pair of cookies. The Food & Wine instructions say a 1-inch mound, but I’m not sure that’s the best guide. Rather, put a dollop of frosting on the pair halves, erring on the side of too little. If you don’t assemble them as you go, you can quickly evenly distribute all of the frosting. Depending on the frosting bag you use, I highly recommend wearing nitrile, latex or vinyl disposable gloves, which will help keep the heat from your hands from melting the frosting in the bag.
When all the frosting is piped, assemble the pairs by gently pushing them together in a slight twisting motion to spread the frosting. They can be a bit fragile so take care that you don’t break them. On the other hand, if you don’t like serving broken cookies, you’ll have to eat the ones you break, so maybe don’t be too careful.