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.
Finally. I have finally completed a true baker challenge with this one. :) I even made both cookies, even though we could just make one of them. Let's first talk about the Marshmallow Cookies.
The base to these cookies was very easy to put together. I made the dough, which was shaped into a disk, two days ahead of time with the intention of doing the rest of the cookie the next day. Well, that didn't happen because...well...the marshmallows happened haha.
I talked about the marshmallows on a previous post already, but I guess I can go into more detail here. The first time I tried to make them, I didn't read the instructions carefully and stirred the egg white (I halved the recipe) into the somewhat-cooled caramel. There were strings of caramel everywhere - on my hands, bowl, spoon, pot, etc. It was crazy. After I cleaned off every thing, I tried again. The second time around, I followed the procedures found on the recipe posted on Smitten Kitchen, since it looked easier. Well, everything looked better until I noticed that the softened gelatin had clumped up at the bottom of the mixer bowl. I tried to pour out what I could and went on with the recipe in hopes that everything would work out. The so-called marshmallows came out looking yellowish and weird, so I had to throw them away.
It was getting dark, and I was tired, so I gave up and put everything away. I couldn't sleep well that night because I couldn't stand the fact that I hadn't been able to master what seemed to be a feasible recipe! I had made caramel sauce, soufflés, authentic mole poblano, puff pastry, danish, apfelstrudel, yeast breads, etc. in the past, why couldn't I make marshmallows? I dreamt about making marshmallows. I could see the beautiful, pristine photos on Deb's website in my head.
As soon as I woke up the next day, I walked directly to the kitchen, pulled out all of the ingredients by memory, and followed the recipe on Smitten Kitchen instead of that of Daring Bakers. I figured that since they had given us permission to use store-bought marshmallows, I could follow another recipe. That is better than taking the shortcut!
On my third attempt, I stirred the softened gelatin as I poured in the syrup instead of beating it with the whisk attachment on the mixer. After I stirred the gelatin and syrup, I started to swell with excitement because I could tell I was on the right track. Once I mixed the gelatin with the syrup, I turned on the mixer with the whisk attachment and watched the mixture turn into a white, smooth, yet stringy marshmallow fluff!! YIPPEE!! I then added the egg whites and vanilla and poured the fluff into the powdered-sugar-lined pan. They came out perfectly and were so soft. I'm still not crazy about marshmallows, though. LOL
We were supposed to put the marshmallow fluff in a pastry bag and pipe it out onto the cookie base, but I decided to just make them full-out marshmallows and threw them in the oven for a few minutes at a low temperature while atop the cookie base so that the marshmallows could melt a bit and adhere to the cookie. I then allowed them to cool before dipping them in the glaze.
The chocolate glaze for the cookies was no problem. I ran out of the Guittard semi-sweet chocolate chips, so to the rest of the cookies I used some unsweetened, dark chocolate and added sugar to the mix, which made the texture look grainy. So, about half of them had semi-sweet chocolate and the other half, dark chocolate. I didn't try the latter because I don't like dark chocolate.
These cookies were easy to make. I only had problems with shaping the cookies. As you can see, each one is a different size and shape haha. I was going to use my pastry bag, as the recipe instructed us to do, but I didn't want to dirty one up, and I thought I could get away with using a Ziploc bag. Um, yeah, well, that didn't work out right. Once I started squeezing out the dough, the bag busted open and all the dough (or goop) fell out onto the silpat/silicon mat. I scraped up everything and put it back in my mixer bowl. Then, I just spooned in 1 x 2-4 inches of dough on the mat. I had a feeling it would spread greatly since we were supposed to make 1-inch portions. Well, they did spread and were misshapen, so in order to make the sandwich cookies more uniformed, I cut the edges with scissors. That worked out perfectly. The chocolate filling came out fine, too. I just don't like the taste of dark chocolate.
MY CONSENSUS ON BOTH TYPES OF COOKIES:
I didn't like either of the cookies. I'm very tired of marshmallows. I'm very tired of chocolate (GASP!). I'm very tired of cookies (GASP AGAIN!). They are everywhere in my kitchen. Since I live alone, I halved the recipe, but the recipes still yielded quite a bit. I'm going to give all the cookies to what I lovingly call my "garbage disposal" (aka my neighbor/college). Whatever he doesn't eat, he told me he would "donate" to our colleagues, and put them in the kitchen in our office.
REFLECTIONS ON THE CHALLENGE:
Even though I didn't like the cookies, I am so so so happy that I participated in this challenge because I learned so much. I was able to make things I had never made before, which is the point of Daring Bakers. I am so proud of myself for making marshmallows. I'll never forget it haha. I also enjoyed enrobing the cookies in chocolate.
Thanks, Nicole at Sweet Tooth! Don't forget to see what the other Daring Bakers have done with this challenge. I'm 100% certain that their entries will be much more creative than mine were haha.