Saturday, December 3, 2011

You had me at chocolate covered...

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I stole a box of Oreos from the Colemans when I was a minor.  I add the age clarification in the event the authorities want to haul me in on grand theft charges.  And you can read the extended version of this story in my baking memoir My Life From Scratch.  See how I've managed to keep myself out of jail AND plug my book in just two sentences?



It took a minute to decide whether to shove the cellophane wrapped treasure under my sweatshirt.  In the end, there was only one sane decision.  Grab and run.



Now, had those Oreos been chocolate covered, well that's another matter entirely.  I'd not have hesitated for a minute.  Not even for a second.  A rational girl doesn't second guess petty theft of ANYTHING chocolate covered.  As long as you lift the stuff from a very nice neighbor.  Can't have you manacled in front of the Jiffy Mart for palming a package of Twix now, can we?

Add mint to the mix and I'd even break into an armored vehicle to get at them.

Or just make them at home.

Criminally Good Minty Chocolate Cookies


(makes about 2 dozen sandwich cookies)

For the chocolate cookies

INGREDIENTS


1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa powder.  The darker the better.
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder

-Preheat oven to 325º.  Whisk together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, espresso powder and salt.  Set aside.

-Melt chocolate with the butter in a metal bowl over a pan of simmering water.

-Put melted chocolate mixture, sugar, eggs and vanilla in a mixing bowl fit with a paddle attachment.  Mix on medium until combined.  Reduce speed and slowly add flour mixture.

–When combined, cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the dough has stiffened enough to handle.

-Roll the dough into a long log, around 16 inches long and 2 inches in diameter.  Wrap in parchment and then seal with plastic wrap.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes.



-Slice 1/4" thick slices from the roll.  Manipulate each piece as well as you can to insure that it's as round as possible and each piece is the same size and thickness.  Place on a parchment lined baking sheet at least 2 inches apart.  You'll need 2 or 3 baking sheets.

-Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes more.  

-Bake for 10 minutes or until the tops of the cookies crack slightly.  Slam the cookies on your work surface as you take them out if they are puffing a bit in the middle.  You want them flat for stacking.

-Cool completely.

For the mint fondant filling:

INGREDIENTS
(adapted from my book Sugar Baby)

2 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons room temperature unsalted butter
1-2 drops peppermint extract
1/4 cup corn starch 

PROCEDURE

-Place the sugar, corn syrup, salt and water in a heavy bottom sauce pan over medium-low heat.  Stir until the sugar has completely melted.  Brush the sides of the pan with a wet pastry brush to eradicate any sugar crystals that are clinging to the sides of the pan. Turn the heat to high, attach a sugar thermometer and heat to 245ºF.



-Pour the sugar syrup into a mixing bowl fit with the paddle attachment.  Add the butter.  Beat the mixture on high for a minute and then add the few drops of peppermint extract.  Continue beating until the syrup begins to thicken and JUST starts to look as if it's drying out.



-Scrap the mixture out onto a work surface dusted with the corn starch.  Knead the mass until smooth.  WORK QUICKLY!  IT DRIES OUT SUPER DUPER FAST.





-Using a rolling pin dusted with cornstarch, roll out the mint fondant until it's under 1/4 inch thick.  Take a 2 inch cutter and cut rounds.  You can't re-knead the fondant, it will be to dry, so make your rounds as close together as possible.

To assemble:

For the topping:

INGREDIENTS

14 ounces bittersweet chocolate cut into very small pieces
1 tablespoon shortening

PROCEDURE

-Melt together the chocolate and shortening in 30 second short bursts in the microwave, stir between blasts.  Otherwise, melt in a heat proof bowl over simmering water.  Stirring constantly until completely melted.

-Take two cookies that are as dimensionally similar as possible and sandwich a round of fondant between them.  Gently dip the cookie into the chocolate to coat the bottom and using a spoon, cover the top and sides of the cookie with the chocolate.  Gently tap the cookie on the fork over the bowl to removes excess chocolate.  Transfer to a piece of parchment to allow to set completely.  Continue with remaining cookies.  You may need to make another batch of topping to continue covering every cookie.





To finish:

Royal Icing

INGREDIENTS

1 cup confectioner's sugar
1 tablespoon dried egg white powder
enough water to make a thick paste

PROCEDURE
-Stir together the confectioner's sugar, egg white powder and a bit of water  at a time until you have a thick and smooth paste.  Add more confectioners or water, depending on consistency.  You want the royal icing to hold its shape when piped.  Transfer the royal icing to a pastry bag fit with a small open tip.

-Once the chocolate coating is COMPLETELY set and dry, decorate as you see fit!