Saturday, April 2, 2011

Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies

These cookies, like so many things on this blog nowadays, come from the Baked Explorations cookbook. They occupy photograph space on the cover of the book, along with the Salt and Pepper Sandwich Cookies I made a few weeks back. As it turns out, I had a special request from somebody who had tried, and loved, those s&p cookies. She wanted a batch made for her, and of course I was more than willing to oblige. However, this now gave me the perfect opportunity to make the Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies as well, because they contain the very same filling. So, I decided to make a half batch of each type of cookie, and a full batch of the filling. Killing two culinary birds with one stone, my kind of project!

Since I had gone the lazy route with the s&p cookies, and shaped them into cookies rather than taking the time to use a cookie cutter, I figured I would do the same with the Malteds. Turns out, this dough was much easier to work with and lent itself beautifully to simply being shaped into a log. After I chilled the dough log, a knife went easily through it to make evenly sized and shaped cookies. And I didn't even have to frustrate myself by rolling out the dough! Making the filling was smooth sailing, since I'd already done it once before.

These cookies came out of the oven much softer, I thought, than the s&p cookies. Texturally, they almost reminded me of those oatmeal cream pies you can get at the grocery store. They were soft, but firm, and paired up magnificently with the filling. The flavor? They were delicious! The malt, to me, was not overwhelmingly noticeable, so I might actually consider adding more malt next time and reducing the flour a tad. It proved to be a very tasty variation of a vanilla sandwich cookie, sort of like a flatter vanilla whoopie pie. I froze this batch and have enjoyed taking them out for a nighttime snack when the urge strikes.

Best of all (again), the hubby has been proven wrong, or just plain silly. He snagged one of these when they had been freshly made, and commented that it was really good. Little did he know, there was some malt in there, and he says he can't stand malt! But now we know the truth; between these cookies and the Malted Crisp Tart, he's been found out. He doesn't even notice the malt and actually likes the taste of malted baked goods! So maybe I won't be serving him a malted milkshake anytime soon, but I can totally throw malt into my baking with nary a complaint!

Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies
from Baked Explorations
makes about 30 sandwich cookies

For the cookies:
4 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup malt powder
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
1/2 cup sour cream
2 tsp. pure vanilla extract

For the filling:
5 oz. vegetable shortening, at room temperature
4 Tbsp. (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. pure vanilla extract
1 tsp. light rum (I omitted and added an extra tsp. vanilla)

Make the cookies: 1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, malt, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Set aside. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy. Scrape down the bowl and add the eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated. Add the sour cream and vanilla and beat until just incorporated. Add half of the dry ingredients all at once and beat for 15 seconds. Again, scrape down the bowl, then add the remaining dry ingredients and beat until just incorporated. The mixture should come together almost in a ball.

2. Shape the dough into two logs that are equal in length end to end,, wrap them tightly in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 3 hours. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Place one dough log on a lightly flour-dusted cutting board.

3. (Note: the Baked directions would now direct you to roll out the dough and cut it into circles with a cutter. I'm going to tell you what I did instead, because it really worked well for me!)Slice the dough log into 30 equal slices, and then ensure they are round by manipulating the edges with your fingertips, if necessary. Place on the parchment-lined baking sheet and press down very lightly. Repeat this step with the other dough log.

4. Bake the cookies for 10 to 12 minutes, or until they are just slightly browned. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Use a spatula to transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely. While the cookies cool, prepare the filling.

Make the vanilla filling: 1. In the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter until lump free and smooth. Add the sugar in three parts, mixing each part until just combined. Add the salt, vanilla, and rum (if using) and beat again for 10 seconds.

2. The filling should be thick but spreadable (like the inside of an Oreo). If it is too thick, add a drop or two of water as needed. Keep adding water to reach desired consistency, but do not add too much water or the filling will be too thin. Alternatively, if the mixture is too thin, add a few tablespoons of confectioners' sugar.

Assemble the Malted Milk Sandwich Cookies: 1. Use a pastry bag or a small spoon to apply about 2 Tbsp. of filling to the flat side of a cookie. Place another cookie, flat side down, on top. Press down slightly so that the filling spreads to the edges of the cookie. Repeat until all the sandwich cookies are made. Let them set up for about 15 minutes before serving. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days (they also freeze well).

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