Strawberry Mint Milano Cookies (Chocolate Sandwich Cookies)
February 14th is nearly on its way, and the color of these delicious strawberry-mint thin, crisp butter cookies is reminiscent of Valentine's Day. I'm planning a super romantic dinner for Lulu. I was home alone today, so I took the opportunity to start testing out some of the dishes to make a perfect Valentine's Day dinner.
Pink was the theme color I was looking for. I couldn't find strawberry-flavored white chocolate at the store, so I substituted pink-colored mint chocolate apeels and bought some strawberry extract. The sandwich cookies freeze well, so I stacked and stored them for Valentine's Day.
Unfortunately, after taste-testing the cookies I realized I forgot to make them heart-shaped! I was a little bummed out. If you're planning on making these cookies for your sweetie, draw hearts on the other side of the parchment paper with a pencil, and pipe the cookie batter along the line of the heart. Oh well, I'm sure Lulu won't mind!
** Note: The strawberry mint Milanos are pictured with tuile cookies.
Yields: 24 cookies8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
4 egg whites (145 grams), at room temperature
2 teaspoons strawberry extract
14 tablespoons all-purpose flour, sifted
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 cup pink-colored mint chocolate apeels (see tips)
3 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
In a mixing bowl, whisk the butter with powdered sugar using a handheld mixer. Add the egg whites and 1-½ teaspoons of strawberry extract. Whisk for about 30 seconds; do NOT over-mix. Add flour and salt. Mix until the mixture is smooth. Chill in the refrigerator for about 10-15 minutes.
Place a sheet of parchment paper on a baking tray. I needed 3 baking trays for the entire batch of cookies. Spread about 2 teaspoons of cookie batter, creating disks (or hearts if you like), onto the parchment paper. If you want heart-shaped cookies, start piping along the outline of the heart and then fill the inside.
Bake for about 8-9 minutes until the edges of the cookies are slightly golden. Remove from the oven.
Using a spatula, transfer the cookies onto several cooking racks; they will firm up as they cool completely.
For the strawberry mint ganache:
Place a pot filled with hot water (at a gentle simmer), topped with a piece of cloth so the bowl does not move and place a stainless-steel bowl filled with the mint chocolate chips on top. Turn off the heat. Temperature of the water shouldn't exceed 118°F (you can get a digital thermometer at IKEA for a reasonable price). Melt the chocolate chips (see tips) with heavy cream and add ½ teaspoon of strawberry extract.
Once cooled, whip the ganache (at a low speed) until creamy and smooth for 2 minutes. Transfer the ganache to a pastry bag fitted with a small round tip (or simply use an icing spatula). Use immediately. If the chocolate hardens, place the chocolate back in the double boiler and repeat the instructions above.
Once the cookies harden, pipe about ½ to 1 teaspoon of the ganache onto the flat side of half the cookies. Place another cookie on top and gently press to make the filling visible. Repeat until all the cookies are used. Allow to set until the chocolate hardens for about 2 hours.
Sifting dry ingredients helps get rid of lumps of flour and aerates the mixture when liquid is added. It's an important step for all your baking so you get a nice result.
Make sure to space the cookies about 2 inches apart so that they don't touch each other as they will expand when they bake. If the cookies are touching each other, just gently separate them.
FIY: an egg white is approximately 36 grams (1-1/4 ounces).
For the double boiler, I always like to add a little kitchen towel underneath the chocolate-filled bowl. That way, the bowl won't jiggle and there won't be any splatter of water in your chocolate. If the chocolate hardens, place the bowl back on the double boiler.
I used pink mint Guittard apeels for the ganache. I bought them at a local store, called the Milk Pail Market. The address is 2585 California Street, Mountain View, CA 94040, but you can order through eBay if you can't find them. I also make mint and chocolate-filled rose thumbprint cookies with this brand of chocolate apeels. If you don't have any, you could use white chocolate, add 3 drops of yellow food coloring, a drop of red food coloring and mint essence or mint extract.
Tempering white chocolate is always very tricky for me; the safest way to get the right temperature is to use a digital thermometer. The melting temperature for white chocolate should be between 113 and 118°F. Let the chocolate cool down to 84°F and add the heavy cream. The cooling temperature is at 78-80°F.
While pressing the ganache to create the sandwich cookie, it's important to be very gentle. Squeeze enough to push the ganache to the edges of the cookie but not so much that it spills out.
You can store the pre-baked cookies up to 4 weeks in your freezer for Valentine's Day. Just spread the ganache a few hours prior to serving.