Monday, July 27, 2009

Daring Baker's July Challenge - Milans and Mallows

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.

When I first saw this month’s Daring Bakers’ challenge, I thought “Oooh, goodie, cookies! I can handle cookies, no problem!” After all, everyone’s made cookies at some point, right? How hard could this be? After the Daring Cooks’ challenge, it was nice to be back on familiar territory. In the end, it wasn’t quite as easy as I had expected – this was a challenge, after all! But, as always, I learned from my mistakes.

I was quite excited at the idea of creating homemade versions of two of my favourite childhood storebought cookies: Milan cookies (a.k.a. Milanos) and mallows (a.k.a. Whippets). I hadn’t tasted either in a long time, and was very much looking forward to the experience.

I made the Milans first, because they seemed easier: just regular egg-white cookies, sandwiched together with a bit of orange-flavoured ganache.



However, I had forgotten that I’m a horrible piper. I hate using pastry bags, and the pastry bags hate me right back. As a result, none of my cookies were the same shape or size, and pairing them together was like playing a game of Match the Cards (or its laundry variation, Match the Socks). Also, I had to put a rush on this job, hence the scarcity of pictures.

The Milans were a big hit with everyone – which surprised me a little, because I really thought I could have done a better job. I really liked the citrus note, which came from the orange zest in the filling and the lemon extract in the cookies. I had never used lemon extract before, and I loved the fresh taste it added. However, I wish my cookies had been a bit less chewy: even though I had left them in the oven as long as I could without burning the bottom, the center felt like it was underbaked. I definitely remember Milanos to be crispier than that.

I would have liked to make the Milans again, this time trying to bake them longer at a lower temperature – but I still had to make the mallows. Our host had told us we could settle for just one recipe, but I did want to try my hand at both.

There are three components in mallows: the cookie base, the marshmallow center, and the chocolate glaze. The cookies were unproblematic, although I think the oven was too hot in this recipe as well. I ended up with way more cookies than the recipe had indicated (about 150, as opposed to 24), but apparently this happened to most of the other Daring Bakers. Plus, I may have made them smaller than I should have: they were literally bite-sized. I didn't have enough marshmallow to top them all, but I had enough chocolate... Weird, but not too big a deal.

However, when I tackled the next step, I experienced a giant MARSHMALLOW FAIL. I had never made marshmallows before, but I soon discovered that they are rather like meringue with gelatin and corn syrup; I’ve made meringue very often, so there shouldn’t have been a problem. Despite that, something went terribly wrong: my mixture simply refused to stiffen. My guess is that I didn’t whisk the egg whites enough, a rookie mistake that I hadn’t made in ages. But, there you have it. I came out of the kitchen sore, humbled and terrified of egg whites forever.


OK, maybe not forever. A couple of days later, I tried again, this time being careful to whisk the whites stiff and add the syrup slowly, and everything went perfectly: I obtained a thick mixture that held its peaks. Since I still hate pastry bags, I used a tiny spoon to top the cookies with marshmallow.

Two hours later, the marshmallows had set enough for me to dip the cookies into the chocolate glaze. It was a lengthy process, and it took even longer for the chocolate coating to set: in fact, I left the cookies out overnight, and some of them still hadn’t set by morning!


There seemed to be two kinds of cookies: those whose coating had set, but which had developed “spots”, and those which were still shiny, but hadn’t set. There didn’t really seem to be a logic to it, either. But I know from experience that chocolate coating can be tricky, and I’ll save that particular challenge for another time: just making proper marshmallows was enough for now. I ended up popping the mallows in the fridge, and the glaze finally set. Obviously, I kept the nicer-looking ones for the pictures.



The final result really surprised me: these cookies really do taste like the storebought ones! I was a bit skeptical of incorporating cinnamon into the cookies, but it turned out to be necessary to complete the flavour. The texture was pretty darn close to what I remembered from the last time I ate a Whippet, except that my cookie/marshmallow ratio was a litte off. Next time, more marshmallow!


So, there you have it. I didn’t do any daring variations this month, due to lack of time, so I’ll just point you all to the Daring Kitchen to go look at the wonders everyone else came up with. A big thank you to Nicole for this fun challenge!

23 comments:

  1. OMG, you didn't have to get super creative since your execution of both cookies look delicious and are beautiful! Fantastic job as always by the choco bunny :)

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  2. YOur milano cookies and mallows look delicious! Can I have one? ;) Great job! Cheers.

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  3. Great job on your challenge and they look scrumptious. Great idea on the variation as well.

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  4. Hahaha!I'm not the only one who hates pastry bags. This makes me smile :)

    I've just finished my milanos (and going to post soon), mine are so different too ! I had to play the "Match the Cookies" game, and there aren't really "pairs".

    Your mallows look good! I didn't make them, but seeing all the pictures from DB... I think I'll make some soon :D

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  5. Oh my goodness, I beat those marshmallows for 15 minutes straight with my hand mixer... ow!!

    Great job!! :D

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  6. Oh, sister, I hear you on the piping bag and match the cookie game. I sat at my dining room table, with all the cookies on their parchment sheets, putting the puzzles together.

    But in the end, yours look lovely!

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  7. Both sets of cookies look wonderful! You did a fantastic job!

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  8. These look great! I also had a problem with matching cookies. That was the hardest part of those cookies for me! I think that the thinner the Milan cookies, the crispier they will become. Great job overall, and I'm so impressed you went for the homemade marshmallow!

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  9. J’adore tes toutes petites bouchées à la guimauve, elles sont vraiment trop mignonnes! Ah! Les joies du dressage au sac à pâtisserie, ne t’en fais pas tu n’es pas la seule à ne pas aimer cela... Désolée, pour ton premier essai de guimauve, comme tu le dis si bien: on apprends de nos erreurs. Tes photos sont très belles.

    Bonne journée à toi!

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  10. Well, you couldn't tell from the photo that you had problems either! (guess in the end it's only the end result that counts right?) I had the same issue with the mallows sticking to the rack I had placed them on. Maybe that's why we were supposed to use parchment paper? lol.. Your milan cookies look great too and who cares that they're not all the same size? I've promised myself to go and make real marshmallows at some point when I have the right ingredients... I am already fearing the endresult, but ok...
    Thanks for the baking soda tip too! I would never have thought to look in the cleaning section!!

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  11. Even with all the things that went wrong for you, your Milans & Mallows look fantastic :)

    Besides, it's the taste that really counts ;)

    MandyM

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  12. c'est très réussi, malgré ta difficulté avec la guimauve. C'est en faisant qu'on apprend :)
    tes photos sont très belles !

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  13. Yum - All of your cookies look amazing!! Beautiful job with this challenge, as always =D.

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  14. Well, I also encountered several problems while making the mallows, but in the end, it worked out (kind of).
    Your mallows and milans look great to me and as long as the taste is fine everything worked out well :-)

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  15. I loved your comment about playing "match the cards" with the milan cookies because I had to do the same! Your mallows are especially well done!

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  16. Great job! I can't believe how beautiful the marshmallow looks on top of the cookie. I want to lick it off!

    As for mine, yeah, I did add too much baking powder. But don't be afraid, usually it produces really great results and I didn't know about the "soapy" taste because I have made that mistake before in many different recipes. No, the problem with these cookies was that they stayed the same size, 1 inch widthwise, but they just grew to be almost 2 inches tall! So I had these funny cylinders that I really didn't know what to do with.

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  17. Your end result is beautiful! Your cookies look fabulous and I would love to sink my teeth into the mallows!!!

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  18. Your cookies are perfect! I had really hard time with the marshmallow (refused to stiffen) and will beat the egg white much longer next time. You did fanstastic job an dI applaud you for making Mallows twice!!!

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  19. Your cookies look very nice.

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  20. What an excellent cookie job you've done on both! The mallows looke perfect to goodness delicious! I did those as well, & didn't quite make it to the Milanos! Well done on the challenge!

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  21. I had to visit tour blog from a fellow Canadian as well another Valerie. Excellent job with this months DB challenge:D

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  22. Your mallows and milanos look really yummy and inviting. Congratulations on such a beautiful result!

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  23. Your cookies & the mallows look so delicious!!

    You have outdone yourself!
    MMMMMMMMMMMM,...

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