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.
One of the first things I learned to bake was cookies. I never cared for Oreos, Chips Ahoy, or other such cookies one could purchase in the typical American supermarket. They tasted of too much sugar and too many chemicals and the chocolate in them seemed to have trace amounts of heavy metal. I never bought into the Twinkie defense, but I could see how a steady diet of mass produced factory baked goods might sink one into depression. So I learned to bake my own, mostly chocolate chip and peanut butter. As much as I still enjoy a good chocolate chip or peanut butter cookie, I rarely bake them any more because I don't need to have a dozen or more cookies tempting me to eat them. I'd much rather fix something I can have a drink with than something sweet. It's all a matter of priorities.
So of course this month's challenge was cookies. And not just one recipe, but two, and each with its own chocolate covering or filling. Marshmallow cookies have never appealed to me. Even as a kid, I thought these were too sweet, too much an insidious attempt to disguise sugar in just another form. Milanos, however, were a different story. These were a factory baked cookie that I liked. Indeed, I think I have liked all the Pepperidge Farm cookies I have tried. Crisp thin buttery wafers sandwiching a thin layer of chocolate, Milanos go very nicely with a cup of coffee. Of course, one cookie provides something like half the recommended caloric intake for an active teenager for a day--and I am neither a teenager nor particularly active, so I have done my best to stay away from these cookies.
I halved the recipes for the cookies and ganache for the Milans, but wish I had halved the ganache recipe again. While it is very tasty, it makes far more ganache than is needed to fill the cookies. My recollection of the Pepperidge Farm Milanos is of a very thin layer of chocolate. The Gale Gand Milans were delicious, but make sure your gym membership is up to date or you have a horde of children to devour them unless you want to gain a quick five pounds.
The Mallows, a cookie base topped with homemade marshmallow and dipped in chocolate, resemble s'mores in taste. The cookie base is not too sweet and complements the marshmallow and chocolate. Although the process of making these cookies is quite involved, they were not terribly difficult.
One of the problems I have with the Daring Bakers challenge is that I would not normally post a recipe that I had tried just once. I think I really need to try almost any recipe several times before I am comfortable with it. However, I am not about to make eight dozen cookies to get all the details right. I think the marshmallow topping would have been better if the instructions had suggested letting the sugar/corn syrup mixture cool for twenty minutes or so before whipping with the egg whites, or else letting the whipped mixture set for some time before topping the cookies. Also, although I made just a half recipe of the cookies, I had 3 dozen cookies. The full recipe states it makes about two dozen cookies--something is wrong here.
Of the two cookies, I definitely preferred the mallows. I don't know that I would make them again anytime soon, but they were a tasty cookie. The Milans were ok, but truthfully, Pepperidge Farms makes a superior cookie.