July 27, 2009

Milan Cookies and Mallows - Being a Daring Baker!!

The July Daring Bakers' challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network. Oh yes, this month we had two challenges - two recipes to battle it out with, or choose one of them as we please. I have always loved the Pepperidge Farm Milano Cookies and so I had no question in my mind about the recipe that I will definitely try out. After the delectable pictures of the mallow cookies posted on our private DB forum, I was tempted to try those out as well!!

But once again, I was pressed for time to complete my challenge this month! Being sick for almost half the month of July didnt help matters either. So I decided that I will make the Milan cookies and then attempt the mallow cookies with store-bought marshmallows.

My experience :

I started my challenge just this last weekend. The batter for Milan Cookies was pretty straight- forward to prepare and was easy to pipe out. I used only vanilla extract to make the cookie batter and used 4 tbsp of that. I reduced the oven temperature to 325F. At first I piped them out on wax paper, but it started smoking a lot. The cookies were also a bit tough to separate from the wax paper. So I asked JM to get me some parchment paper, which he did quickly. Thanks to him, I had an easy time getting my cookies off the baking tray.

I also attempted to pipe the batter in several different ways using the 1/4" piping tip and found that three lines made the cookies the right size with the perfect oval shape. But I should say that the cookies baked on the wax paper were much crispier than the ones on the parchment paper.

I used Lindt 70% cacoa chocolate to fill the Milan cookies. Since I read from the forum that many DBers had cookies with cake-ish texture the next day, I left the cookies out so that they may remain crisp. But still, the next day, many of them were chewy rather than crisp. Nevertheless, the cookies were delicious and in great demand. Eventhough the dark chocolate ganache was a little too bitter when tasted on its own turned out excellent when coupled with the sweet Milan cookies. I omitted the orange zest in the cookie filling.

My only concern is the consistency in the shape of the cookies which may be helped if a stencil is used. Maybe the next time I will try spreading the batter using a stencil, rather than piping on the baking tray.

Milan Cookies

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 20 min
Inactive Prep Time: 0 min
Cook Time: 1 hr 0 min
Serves: about 3 dozen cookies

• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter, softened
• 2 1/2 cups (312.5 grams/ 11.02 oz) powdered sugar
• 7/8 cup egg whites (from about 6 eggs)
• 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
• 2 tablespoons lemon extract
• 1 1/2 cups (187.5grams/ 6.61 oz) all purpose flour
• Cookie filling, recipe follows

Cookie filling:

• 1/2 cup heavy cream
• 8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
• 1 orange, zested

1. In a mixer with paddle attachment cream the butter and the sugar.

2. Add the egg whites gradually and then mix in the vanilla and lemon extracts.

3. Add the flour and mix until just well mixed.

4. With a small (1/4-inch) plain tip, pipe 1-inch sections of batter onto a parchment-lined sheet pan, spacing them 2 inches apart as they spread.

5. Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 10 minutes or until light golden brown around the edges. Let cool on the pan.

6. While waiting for the cookies to cool, in a small saucepan over medium flame, scald cream.

7. Pour hot cream over chocolate in a bowl, whisk to melt chocolate, add zest and blend well.

8. Set aside to cool (the mixture will thicken as it cools).

9. Spread a thin amount of the filling onto the flat side of a cookie while the filling is still soft and press the flat side of a second cookie on top.

10. Repeat with the remainder of the cookies.

The second element of our challenge, if we opted to do, was to make Mallows which were Chocolate covered marshmallow cookies. Once again, the cookie recipe was very easy to follow and great to work with. I used a star shaped cookie cutter and a small wine glass mouth to cut out the cookies. I just didnt want to attempt the home-made marshmallows because I just couldnt find the time. So I bought some jet-puffed marshmallows and some marshmallow cream.

I halved the cookie recipe and proceeded to make the cookies. I baked the cookies for about 7 minutes in a 350F oven until golden brown. The cookies were allowed to cool and I placed small mint melts on them. I piped the marshmallow cream so as to cover the mini-kisses shaped mint melts. Immediately I could see that the marshmallow cream was not going to hold its shape. The cream overflowed from the top of the cookies. So I just sprinkled a bit of round sprinkles on them and they looked stunning (but no pictures, though). Most of the star shaped cookies were done in this way, so I have none of them to display.

Then I decided to experiment with the jet-puffed mallows. I cut them in half, placed them on top of the cookies with a chocolate covered raisin on top. Then I put them in microwave for 3 seconds each so that the mallows would stick to the cookies.

I didnt have any more semisweet or dark chocolate at home, so I decided to use the cherry chocolate chips that I had at home. I wanted to make a cherry - white chocolate swirl on top the mallows. But when I mixed the white chocolate with the cherry chips, there were no swirls left. By then, my patience was also running thin, so I just dipped the mallow cookies in the melted cherry chips and left them to dry/harden (which they didnt as much as I would've liked). Some of the dipped mallow cookies were topped with sprinkles as well. Anyways, once they were easier to handle, I melted a bit more of the white chocolate and drizzled on top of the cherry mallows.

Eventhough I am not very happy with how my mallows turned out (I know, I shouldve gone with home-made marshmallows!), they were surprisingly very delicious. I am saying this because I really dont like the marshmallows alone, but the whole thing works well and is just an explosion of flavors and textures in your mouth! I feel a bit guilty saying this, but I think this turned out to be my favorite in taste and texture, though not in execution or ease.

Check out my final picture to see the cherry chocolate glaze, the white marshmallow, the chocolate covered raisin and my mallow cookie which all came together to make this wonderful flavorful piece of heaven!!

Mallows (Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies)

Recipe courtesy Gale Gand, from Food Network website
Prep Time: 10 min
Inactive Prep Time: 5 min
Cook Time: 10 min
Serves: about 2 dozen cookies

• 3 cups (375grams/13.23oz) all purpose flour
• 1/2 cup (112.5grams/3.97oz) white sugar
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
• 3/8 teaspoon baking soda
• 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 12 tablespoons (170grams/ 6 oz) unsalted butter
• 3 eggs, whisked together
• Homemade marshmallows, recipe follows
• Chocolate glaze, recipe follows

1. In a mixer with the paddle attachment, blend the dry ingredients.

2. On low speed, add the butter and mix until sandy.

3. Add the eggs and mix until combine.

4. Form the dough into a disk, wrap with clingfilm or parchment and refrigerate at least 1 hour and up to 3 days.

5. When ready to bake, grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper or a silicon mat.

6. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

7. Roll out the dough to 1/8-inch thickness, on a lightly floured surface. Use a 1 to 1 1/2 inches cookie cutter to cut out small rounds of dough.

8. Transfer to the prepared pan and bake for 10 minutes or until light golden brown. Let cool to room temperature.

9. Pipe a “kiss” of marshmallow onto each cookie. Let set at room temperature for 2 hours.

10. Line a cookie sheet with parchment or silicon mat.

11. One at a time, gently drop the marshmallow-topped cookies into the hot chocolate glaze.

12. Lift out with a fork and let excess chocolate drip back into the bowl.

13. Place on the prepared pan and let set at room temperature until the coating is firm, about 1 to 2 hours.

Note: if you don’t want to make your own marshmallows, you can cut a large marshmallow in half and place on the cookie base. Heat in a preheated 350-degree oven to slump the marshmallow slightly, it will expand and brown a little. Let cool, then proceed with the chocolate dipping.

Homemade marshmallows:

• 1/4 cup water
• 1/4 cup light corn syrup
• 3/4 cup (168.76 grams/5.95oz) sugar
• 1 tablespoon powdered gelatin
• 2 tablespoons cold water
• 2 egg whites , room temperature
• 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1. In a saucepan, combine the water, corn syrup, and sugar, bring to a boil until “soft-ball” stage, or 235 degrees on a candy thermometer.

2. Sprinkle the gelatin over the cold water and let dissolve.

3. Remove the syrup from the heat, add the gelatin, and mix.

4. Whip the whites until soft peaks form and pour the syrup into the whites.

5. Add the vanilla and continue whipping until stiff.

6. Transfer to a pastry bag.

Chocolate glaze:

• 12 ounces semisweet chocolate
• 2 ounces cocoa butter or vegetable oil

1. Melt the 2 ingredients together in the top of a double boiler or a bowl set over barely simmering water.

* You can either do both recipes or just choose one.

Thanks for reading my post. You can check out my previous Daring Bakers Challenges - all 13 of them here. Please do visit the other Daring Bakers to check out their cookies at the Daring Bakers blogroll.

Thanks again and have a great week ahead!!

July 17, 2009

Pineapple Upside-down Cake

Hello and welcome back to Tasty treats!! I sure do miss posting more on this blog, but my work is taking up most of the time and I dont get to try out new recipes very often nowadays. But when I do, I make sure to take some pictures so that I can share it with you all.

Pineapple upside-down cake is one of those special cakes that I remeber from when I was young. My aunt used to bake it once-in-a-while and I remember that the name used to intrigue me! Eventhough it was like an exotic cake back then, I never got around to trying it out myself when I started baking. But finally I got a good recipe from a cookbook and I made this pineapple upside-down cake during the 4th of July weekend, when we had some friends come over to our place for a lunch get-together. I had baked the cake the day before, with two extra single serve cakes in ramekins so that we didnt have to wait until the next day to try it.

Just as soon as the picture session was over, we dived into our ramekin single serve cake shares. I must say, I really enjoyed the caramelised taste of the melted brown sugar and butter over the pineapple slices. The cake was really soft and delicate - the kind thats fluffy and delicious, with the caramelized pineapple piece in each mouthful. The reviews from JM indicated that he also enjoyed it really well. But unfortunately, I fell sick when the guests came over the next day and I was in bed!!!! So I had to forfeit the pleasure of serving the 8" cake and my guests served themselves. From what I could see, they really enjoyed the cake as well, with their little boy happily eating the cake. My friend asked for the recipe, the biggest acknowledgement of all.....

Hope you enjoyed the rceipe. Give this recipe a try and enjoy!!

Recipe (Makes 8 servings) :

Pineapple slices in juice - 2 cans (8oz each)
Butter or margarine - 8 tbsp (1 stick), softened
Brown sugar - 1/3 cup, packed
Cake flour (not self rising) - 1 cup
Baking powder - 1 tsp

Salt - 1/4 tsp
Granulated sugar - 2/3 cup
Egg - 1, large
Vanilla extract - 1 tsp
Milk - 1/3 cup


Preheat oven to 325F.

Drain pineapple slices in sieve set over bowl. Reserve 2 tbsp juice.

Cut 8 slices in half and drain on paper towels. Refrigerate remaining slices for another use.

In a 10" oven-safe skillet, melt 2 tbsp butter and brown sugar over medium heat, stirring until smooth.

Stir in reserved pineapple juice and heat to boiling; boil 1 minute.

Remove skillet from heat.

Decoratively arrange pineapple in skillet, overlapping slices slightly to fit.

In a small bowl, with fork, mix flour, baking powder and salt, set aside.

In a large bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat the remaining 6 tbsp butter and granulated sugar until fluffy, frequently scraping the bowl with a spatula.

Reduce speed to low, beat in egg and vanilla until well blended.

Add flour mixture alternately with milk, beginning and ending with flour mixture.

Beat just until blended.

Spoon batter over pineapple, spread evenly.

Bake until toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean; 40-45 minutes.

Immediately run a thin knife around the edges to loosen cake from the side of the skillet.

Invert cake onto serving plate. (If any pineapple slices stick to the skillet, remove and replace on cake).

Cook 30 minutes to serve warm, or cool completely to serve later.

Source : Good Housekeeping Best Loved Desserts.

  1. I used a 20 oz can of pineapple rings.
  2. Instead of baking in a skillet, I used an 8" round cake pan and 2 ramekins.
  3. I didnt cut the pineapple rings in half, but used about 7 whole slices to line the base of the 8" cake pan and 2 more in the ramekins.
  4. The cherries were placed in the middle of the pineapple slices after baking, for presentation.
  5. I served the cake with a scoop of icecream on the side, though I should say, it tastes awesome just as is.

Hope you all enjoyed the recipe for today. Have a great day and an awesome weekend!!

July 10, 2009

Molten Chocolate Cake

Good morning everyone! Hope you all had a great 4th Of July weekend! We had music and fireworks at a performance center near our home and eventhough we didnt go, we could see the fireworks from our patio!! It was really amazing, I really enjoyed it.

I had planned to post this cake last week, but unexpectedly got really sick. So I was in bed the whole weekend (darn!). But I went to work for a couple of days this week and so is taking today off. Sadly lil LM and JM are sick as well, so all's not well.

Anyways, this is a molten cake recipe that I tried a couple of weeks ago. It is also known as molten lava cake. The cake is very simple to prepare and as the name suggests, the cake will only be cooked for about 5-10 minutes so that the edges will be set. But when you cut into the cake, the center will still be liquid and will flow out of the cake in a chocolate-y ooey gooey lava. The recipe given is for 8 individual cakes, but I halved the recipe and made only 3 cakes. I let them bake in the oven for the 8 mintes mentioned in the recipe, but that almost cooked through the cake. So in my understanding, if you are making the entire recipe, bake for 8-9 minutes and if reducing the recipe, reduce the time accordingly. Slightly moist interior can be found in the last set of pictures.

Eventhough the center didnt flow out when cut into, the cake wasnt cooked dry, so each bite was really moist, creamy and decadent. It was unlike any cake that I've had before. It sure was melt-in-your-mouth goodness!! Give this recipe a try, and I'm sure you all will love it!

Recipe ( Makes 8 servings) :

Semi sweet chocolate - 4 squares (4oz), chopped
Butter or margarine - 1/2 cup (1 stick), cut into pieces
Heavy or whipping cream - 1/4 cup
Vanilla extract - 1/2 tsp
All-purpose flour - 1/4 cup
Granulated sugar - 1/4 cup
Eggs - 2, large
Egg yolks - 2, large
Confectioner's sugar - for dusting
Whipped cream or Vanilla icecream (optional)


Preheat oven to 400F. Grease eight 6 oz custard cups. Dust with sugar.

In a heavy saucepan, heat chocolate, butter and cream over low heat, stirring occasionally, until butter and chocolate have melted and the mixture is smooth.

Remove pan from heat and add vanilla extract.

With a wire whisk, stir in flour just until the mixture is smooth.

In a medium bowl, with mixer at high speed, beat granulated sugar, eggs and yolk until thick and lemon colored, about 10 minutes.

Fold egg mixture into chocolate mixture, one third at a time, until blended.

Divide the batter evenly between the custard cups.

Place cups in jelly-roll pan for easier handling.

Bake until edges of cakes are set but the centers still jiggle, about 8-9 minutes.

Cool in pan on a wire rack for 3 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges to loosen cakes from the sides of cups, invert onto dessert plates.

Dust with confectioners' sugar.

Serve immediately with whipped cream or icecream, if desired.

Source: Good Housekeeping Best Loved Desserts.

  1. I only made half the recipe, just reduced all the ingredients by half.
  2. Reduce the baking time to 6 minutes or so (if you halve the recipe), since my cakes turned out almost well cooked. One of them was still moist inside, but the others were cooked through. But still they were creamy and decadent once in the mouth!! :-)
Stay healthy and have a great weekend!!


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