Lemon Milan Cookies
Growing up, I remember that my mom almost always had a stash of Pepperidge Farm mint Milano cookies 'hidden' behind some books in the bookcase (If I remember correctly, the guardians were Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa, and a Danielle Steel novel.)
Ever the clever girl, I made sure that I left behind at least two cookies per crinkly-cupped layer...no one would notice a few missing cookies, especially when the bag was never pulled out of it's secret spot until empty.
Of course she knew that I knew, and I knew that she knew that I knew, but it was a fun little secret secret between us. As long as I didn't cross the line (i.e. never eat the last one, ever), everything was fine. :)
I will always have a soft spot for the real Pepperidge Farm cookies, but I have to admit that these homemade versions are pretty spectacular!
To solidify that point, they were insanely good despite the fact that mine never achieved the coveted 'crunchy' texture. The only reason for that was the high humidity, and the sad fact that a feeble fan placed on a chair does not an air-conditioner make.
Having said that, if the soft versions were addicting, I can only imagine that the crunchier incarnations would have been lethally delicious. Make them at your own risk. Seriously. I kept telling myself that I'd have just one more, but my hand said otherwise. By cookie #5, the white flag had been raised. Sorry, lonely pilates mat.
On a side note, I would like to thank Sasha, of The Procrastobaker, for passing on the lovely blogger award. Please take the time to visit her fabulous food blog, which has a lot of mouthwatering desserts that you won't find anywhere else. Thank you, Sasha!
Lemon Milan Cookies (adapted from Food Network)
Special equipment: A large pastry fitted with a plain 1/4-inch wide piping tip.
1 1/2 sticks (that's 12 Tablespoons) of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2 1/2 cups of confectioners sugar
6 egg whites [Note: I don't like wasting eggs, especially the yolks, so use them to make something fabulously rich...a custard or mousse perhaps?]
1 teaspoon of pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon of pure almond extract
zest of 2 lemons (3, if they're small)
1 1/2 cups of all-purpose flour
8 ounces of chopped bittersweet chocolate
1/2 cup of heavy cream
zest of 2 lemons
Preheat the oven to 350 F, and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of your stand mixer, using the paddle attachment (you can use a hand-held too), beat the butter and salt on medium speed until creamy. Gradually beat in the confectioners sugar and beat till well combined.
Slowly add the egg whites (don't add them all at once), and beat until they're well incorporated into the batter. Add the extracts and lemon zest, and beat to combine.
Add the flour and beat on low speed just until the streaks of white have disappeared. [Note: Be sure not to over-beat the batter once the flour has been added.]
Place the batter into a large pastry bag fitted with a plain 1/4-inch wide tip.
Pipe out 1-inch long sections of batter onto the lined cookie sheets. The cookies will spread out a lot while they are baking, so leave at least 2-inches of space between each segment. [Note: I made these cookies on a very humid day and as a result, the batter was extremely runny.If you run into this problem, just cover the batter and refrigerate it for about 20 minutes before piping.]
Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until light golden brown around the edges.
Remove from the oven and allow the cookies to cool for at least 10 minutes before carefully taking them off the sheets. [Note: Perhaps due to the humidity, I had a difficult time removing the cookies from the parchment paper. The cookies are fragile, so if you run into problems, try using a very slim spatula.]
Cool the cookies completely before adding the filling.
Prepare the filling
Place the chopped chocolate into a heat-proof bowl and set aside.
In a small saucepan, bring the cream to just a boil over medium-low heat.
Pour the hot cream over the chocolate and let it rest for about 5 minutes.
Using a whisk, and starting in the center, begin stirring the cream and chocolate together, using small concentric circles. Once you have a deliciously smooth chocolate filling, stir in the lemon zest.
Set the sauce aside to cool and thicken for about 5 minutes.
Spread a small amount onto half of the cooled cookies. [Note: Because I'm neurotic, I tried to match up all the cookie sizes. Find a partner for the cookies and place them on top of each other before adding the chocolate...it's difficult to find a match when half of them are smeared in chocolate.] :)
Makes about 20-24 sandwich cookies