Thursday, April 28, 2016
Banana Nilla Cookies
I've made cookies from at least two James Beard Foundation award winners. Both recipes were amazing. At the same time, both recipes were rather involved--or at least included some extra steps. And, I don't mean that to act as a deterrent to anyone thinking about making something from a JBF award winner. I mean, there is a good reason why they've won the award. These cookies from Mindy Segal's Cookie Love were spectacular. There were a lot of steps involved in the making of these cookies but they weren't difficult steps. And if you have everything ready and able--or store bought--then it probably won't take you nearly as long. I didn't, which is probably the main reason I'm bringing this up. So, don't be like me--be more prepared. Now let's discuss the actual cookies.
What Mindy Segal has done is created a homemade recipe for Nilla Wafers. She then used them to sandwich a banana caramel buttercream filling and topped them off with two types of chocolate--a bittersweet and a caramelized white chocolate. The result is a decadent sandwich cookie that to me--due to the bananas--has a fairly accented fruity flavor--which is a good thing. The cookies are softer and more pillowy than actual Nilla Wafers and pack a good vanilla flavored punch. The bittersweet chocolate comes through nicely but I personally didn't think the caramelized white chocolate one did as much. In truth, I think it's more decorative than anything. But at the same time, I've been wanting to caramelize white chocolate for a while now and this project gave me a good reason to do so. And by the by, even though I don't necessarily think it came through with these cookies, caramelized white chocolate is pretty damn tasty on its own--well worth the effort of caramelization.
What I really like about these cookies is the pure fact that they are sandwich cookies. Basically my philosophy over sandwich cookies is the more the merrier. Barring the fact--but probably because of this very fact--that sandwich cookies are double the cookie--which means they are double the fat, sugar, refined flour, blah blah blah--they are my favorite type of cookie. I'll always take an oatmeal cream pie over a regular oatmeal cookie or an Oreo (preferably double-stuffed) over a simple chocolate wafer. And now I can state, with a clear conscience that I would definitely take a Mindy Segal Banana Nilla cookie over a simple Nilla Wafer. Yes, they're more decadent and more calories but they're a little more complex and a lot more fun to eat.
Recipe via the kitchn for Mindy Segal's Banana Nilla Cookies (makes about 30 sandwich cookies)
1/3c unsalted butter at room temp.
1/3c vegetable shortening
1c powdered sugar
2/3c granulated sugar
2 extra-large eggs at room temp.
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 T water
3c cake flour
1 T baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes (I used Maldon)
Using a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salts and then set it aside. Then in a small bowl crack in the eggs and add the vanilla and water and set that aside. Next in the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the butter and shortening using the paddle attachment. Mix that until they are combined on medium speed. Add the sugars to the mixer bowl and cream the mixture on medium-high speed for about 5 minutes. Then add each egg into the fat/sugar mixture one at a time--mixing just until it looks like cottage cheese. Stop the mixer, scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl and run the mixer for a minute more just make sure all that side and bottom stuff has been re-introduced into the mixture. Now add the flour mixture all at once and mix on low speed just until combined. Next, place a large sheet of plastic wrap flat on your work surface. Scrape the batter onto the plastic wrap and pat it into a rectangle. Wrap the batter up tightly and refrigerate it overnight.
The next day when you are ready to cut out the cookies and bake them, get out two baking sheets and cut out pieces of parchment paper to fit them. Then lay each sheet of parchment paper on your work surface--you're going to roll out your dough directly on each parchment sheet. Now, remove the dough from the fridge, unwrap it and cut it in half. Place one half back in the fridge and leave the other one out. Lightly dust one sheet of parchment paper with flour and place the one half of dough on top of it. Roll out the dough to 1/4 inch thickness (you can either place an additional sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough and roll or lightly flour the surface of the dough while rolling). Once you've got the dough rolled out to 1/4 inch thickness, place a sheet of parchment paper on top of the dough, ease the sheet of dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate it for one hour. Do the same thing for the other half of dough. Once the hour is up, preheat your oven to 325 F. Remove one sheet of dough at a time from the fridge and ease the sheet onto a work surface. Place a silicone baking mat or another sheet of parchment paper onto the baking sheet. Then with the dough, remove the top sheet of parchment paper and cut out 2 inch circles of dough--re-rolling the dough with the trimmings and cutting once again as needed. Place your cookie circles on the prepared baking sheet, lower the oven temperature to 300 F and bake for 7-10 minutes or until the cookies feel firm. Remove the cookies from the oven and let them cool completely before sandwiching. Repeat with the remaining half of dough.
2 medium overripe bananas
2 T granulated sugar
1 T freshly squeezed lemon juice
Break the bananas up with your hands into chunks. Place them--along with the rest of the ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook them for about 5-7 minutes or until the bananas are soft and easily break apart when nudged with a spoon. Once that is done, place the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and process until smooth. Pour the puree into a small bowl, place a sheet of plastic wrap directly over the puree and let it cool completely.
1c unsalted butter at room temp.
1c powdered sugar
Seeds from half of a vanilla bean
1 T vanilla extract
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp sea salt flakes
All of the banana puree you just made at room temp.
1/2c homemade or store-bought caramel sauce at room temp.
In the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium-high until smooth. Add the sugar and beat on medium-high for about 5 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla bean seeds, extract and salts and mix until fully incorporated and evenly distributed. Then add in the banana puree and mix in until fully incorporated. Finally, add the caramel sauce and mix until that is fully incorporated.
All of your cookies
8oz bittersweet chocolate melted and cooled
2oz caramelized white chocolate melted and cooled (here is a good link to how to go about caramelizing white chocolate)
On your work surface, pair up the cookies with a suitable partner. Fill a pastry bag with the frosting and pipe a tablespoon or two of the frosting on the bottoms of half of the cookies. Sandwich each cookie with its unfrosted partner. Dip each sandwich cookie into the bittersweet chocolate and set aside to set for a minute. Finally, using a fork or spoon drizzle the caramelized white chocolate over each sandwich cookie. Let the chocolates set and then enjoy at your leisure.