Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies

They say that love is in the air, but I’m detecting an enticing aroma of freshly baked cookies.  There are many ways to express your love to someone special, but few are as tasty and memorable as a batch of homemade cookies made with love straight from the heart.

These chocolate-y cookies are rich and buttery with a light crunchy texture and are extraordinary entirely on their own.  However, the mint buttercream filling provides a wonderfully creamy and refreshing flavor contrast.  The fusion of crunchy and creamy is so irresistible it will take hold of all your senses tantalizing every last taste bud.

This recipe was inspired by my insane love for peppermint patties.  I just can’t get enough of them and these cookies share a striking resemblance to my all time favorite treat.  I hope that you and your loved ones have a wonderful day full of love, appreciation and most importantly sweets!

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!! xoxo

Chocolate Cookies          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 1 dozen sandwich cookies

1 ¾ cups all-purpose white flour

1/3 cup unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder, sifted after measuring

1 tsp baking powder

2/3 cup unsalted butter, softened

2 Tbsp canola oil or other flavorless vegetable oil

¾ cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

2 tsp vanilla extract

Pinch of salt

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder and baking powder and set aside.

In the large bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat together the butter, oil and sugar at medium speed until the mixture is light and fluffy.  Add the eggs, vanilla and salt and mix until well incorporated.  Adjust the mixer speed to low and add the flour mixture until just combined.

Divide the dough in half and place each portion between 2 sheets of wax paper.  Roll dough to an 1/8” thickness and refrigerate on a baking sheet for at least one hour and up to 24 hours (still between wax paper), until chilled and firm, but not too hard.  Let dough warm up slightly before cutting.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Working with one portion of dough at a time, remove the wax paper from both sides of the dough and place on a lightly floured surface.  Using a 2” fluted round cutter (or any cutter of your choice) cut the dough and place rounds on the prepared baking sheet.  You can re-roll any leftover scraps, but chill again before cutting.  Chill all of the cut cookies until firm again before baking.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until set.  Let cool on baking sheet for about 5 minutes and transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Mint Buttercream Filling

½ cup plus 2 Tbsp non-hydrogenated solid vegetable shortening or unsalted butter, room temperature

¼ tsp peppermint extract

¼ tsp vanilla extract

2 cups plus 3 Tbsp powdered sugar, sifted

¼ cup egg whites, pasteurized

In the large bowl of a stand mixer, add the shortening, peppermint extract and vanilla extract and mix at medium speed until blended.  Adjust the mixer speed to low and slowly add the powdered sugar, egg whites and the pinch of salt.  Increase the speed to medium to fully incorporate the ingredients, scraping the sides of the bowl as necessary.

Chocolate Ganache

½ cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips

3 Tbsp heavy whipped cream

Heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium low heat until slightly simmering (the edges start to bubble).  Be careful not to boil the cream too long or it will scald.  Remove the pan from the heat and add the chocolate chips, stirring until well incorporated.  Let the chocolate mixture sit and cool until it becomes a spreadable consistency, about 30 minutes.

Assembling the cookies

Pair the cookies so that the sizes match as closely as possible.  Using a pastry bag fitted with a small or round metal piping tip, pipe about a tablespoon of the mint buttercream onto the bottom cookie.  Pipe using another pastry bag, or spread with an offset spatula, a thin layer of the chocolate ganache onto the other cookie.  Sandwich the cookies together allowing the filling to ooze just a bit at the edges of the cookie.  Let set for about 10 minutes.  These cookies can be kept at room temperature in a sealed container for a couple of hours, but refrigerate for longer storage.  Make sure to bring back to room temperature before serving.

Visit www.frontrowmonthly.com to also view this recipe as well as the latest in fashion news and entertainment.  My recipe post is on page 17 of the “page-flip” under the section Dish.

Advertisements

Flourless Chocolate Brownies

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, the ever ubiquitous pumpkins, apples, spices, nuts and everything fall make their way into most of the desserts for this holiday of thanks.  I absolutely adore this time of year and all of its flavors; however, sometimes you just need a little break from tradition for a change of taste.  A profound chocolate craving took over my willpower this week (not unusual by any means).  These decadent chocolate brownies instantly came to mind and I knew they would be the perfect diversion from the classic fall desserts furthermore satisfying my intense craving (at least until next week).

These brownies are rich and fudgy, but not too sweet.  They are made without flour which further propels the chocolate onto center stage.  You won’t even miss the flour…in fact you’ll wonder how flour ever made its way into brownies in the first place.  Who knew the absence of flour in a baked good could be such a wonderful thing? Whether you have intolerance to gluten or simply want a divine fudgy brownie…this is absolutely the recipe for you!  What I like best about this recipe is that it doesn’t involve a mixer of any kind.  Just make sure that you stir the batter long enough (as directed below) otherwise the brownies can become crumbly.  The cocoa nibs are a wonderful addition creating a nice texture combination with the nuts. (You can find cocoa nibs at Whole Foods Market or any specialty food store).

Flourless Chocolate Brownies          {Print Recipe}

Yield: 12 brownies

6 Tbsp unsalted butter

8 oz bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped

¾ cup sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process

3 Tbsp corn starch

1/8 tsp salt

3 Tbsp cocoa nibs – optional but highly recommended

1 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped – optional

Line the inside of an 8×8 square pan with foil so that it goes up the sides and wrap over the rim.  Lightly grease the foil with butter or non-stick cooking spray.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Melt the butter, salt and chocolate in a medium saucepan over very low heat, stirring constantly until smooth.  Remove from the heat and stir in the sugar, then the eggs, one at a time.

Sift together the cocoa powder and corn starch in a small bowl then stir them into the chocolate mixture.  Beat the batter vigorously for at least one minute, until the batter is no longer grainy and nearly smooth.  It will pull away from the sides of the pan a bit.

Add the nuts and cocoa nibs, if using, then scrape the batter into the prepared pan.

Bake for 30 minutes or until the brownies are set in the center and slightly cracked on top.  Be careful to not over bake. Remove from the oven and let cool completely on a rack before removing from the pan and slicing.

Keep brownies stored in a sealed container for up to 4 days…but they probably won’t last that long.

Recipe from David Lebovitz, http://www.davidlebovitz.com