December 26, 2013 by Meg G.
Our fifth annual cookie bake-off was a whole lot of delicious!
We truly love this tradition, which involves friends, food, cookies, and cutthroat competition.
We kept our judging categories from last year, since they produced such a great range of cookies. Today, I’m delighted to share these chocolate orange sandwich cookies (courtesy of their creator and our friend, Mike), which took first place in the Surprisingly Delicious category.
Mike is a meticulous, creative, and understated kind of guy. So, it was perfectly fitting that he produced a delicious cookie with surprising layers of flavor. Mike shared some of his strategies and secrets with me and I’m happy to pass them along to you!
These sandwich cookies are a mash-up of several different recipes and Mike’s own creativity. His choice was strategic – he decided to bake a cookie that fit into one particular category. Since he happened to have orange extract and a bunch of lemons in the house, he decided on a chocolate cookie with some citrus surprises. Mike made two practice batches and sought out the expert advice of Jen Luxmoore and her staff at Sin, a bakery here in Providence known for its awesome cakes and cupcakes. Clearly, all of his diligence paid off! Here goes!
Mike’s Chocolate Orange Sandwich Cookies – inspired by Martha’s Chocolate Mint Sandwich Cookies
For the Cookies – from Alice Medrich (per Jen’s recommendation)
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup cocoa powder, plus 1 tablespoon cocoa powder (natural or Dutch process)
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, slightly softened
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup sugar, plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons low-fat milk (or water)
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer until creamy; add the sugars and vanilla and beat on high speed for about one minute. Beat in the milk.
- On low speed, beat in the flour mixture, just until incorporated.
- Gather the dough together with your hands and form it into a neat 9 to 10 inch log. Wrap it in wax paper, folding or twisting the ends of the paper without pinching or flattening the roll (you may find it easier to improve the shape of your roll after it has chilled a bit).
- Chill for at least 45 minutes or until needed. The dough can be refrigerated for up to three days and frozen for up to three months.
- Place your oven racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and pre-heat to 350F. Lightly grease two baking sheets or line them with parchment paper.
- Use a sharp knife to slice rounds of the chilled dough a scant 1/4 inch thick, or as thinly as possible. Place them one inch apart on baking sheets.
- Bake ten to twelve minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. The cookies will puff and crackle on top, then settle down slightly when done.
For the Ganache – from Martha Stewart
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 6 ounces semisweet chocolate, very finely chopped
- 3/4 teaspoon pure orange extract
Bring cream to a boil in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add chocolate. Cook, stirring constantly until chocolate is smooth. Stir in orange extract. Let cool slightly, 10 to 15 minutes.
For the Candied Lemon Zest – from Eating Well
- 1 lemon
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup water
- With a vegetable peeler, remove long strips of zest (without pith) from lemon; cut into julienne strips. Place in a small saucepan and cover with cold water. Bring to a simmer over medium heat. Cook for 7 minutes; drain.
- Return the strips to the pan and add sugar and 1/2 cup water; return to a simmer. Cook over low heat until the zest is translucent and the syrup is slightly thickened, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the zest to wax paper with a slotted spoon; let cool.
- Spoon 1 teaspoon ganache onto the bottom of 1 cookie and then place another cookie on top. Repeat with remaining cookies and ganache.
- Dip the candied lemon zest in a bit of ganache and place a few on top of each sandwich and dust with powdered sugar.
- Refrigerate until firm, about 10 minutes.
I failed to take photos of each platter of cookies (bad blogger!), so this is the only image I have of Mike’s cookies. The half-eaten chocolate cookie at 8 o’clock on the brown plate is his award-winning chocolate orange sandwich cookie.
These were definitely surprising and delicious. From the outside, they look like very fancy, very chocolatey sandwich cookies, but one bite and the orange and lemon zest shines right through! You can also tell that they were carefully and artfully assembled by a master baker. Nice work, Mike, and thanks for sharing them with us! Enjoy!