My cookie swap mentality is this: the more, the merrier. Tis’ the season after all!
Which may or may not be how I ended up participating in no less than five last year. One that I traveled 300 miles for. Suffice it to say there is very little I wouldn’t do for a good cookie.
But that’s just the thing. When you go to a cookie swap, you don’t want to be the girl with the dud cookie that no one wants to taste or take home with them because it would reflect poorly on them to have it on their cookie tray. You want to be the girl with the WOW cookie. The cookie that will bring people to tears because it is just.that.good.
Last year I entrusted this position to another cookie from the Baked boys, as I so endearingly call them. It was a mint chocolate chunk cookie that kind of blew my mind, and so this year, I took another chance on them. After just one glance at the cover of Baked Explorations, I knew I had found The One in their recipe for Salt-n-Pepper Sandwich Cookies, which they describe as being “crisp and toothsome, with a hint of salt and pepper that works beautifully with the cocoa powder…a rather chic after-dinner treat”. Basically, they’re like a grown-up version of Oreos but with no weirdo chemicals. I was hooked. Read my notes below to see what I thought of this recipe.
Salt-n-Pepper Sandwich Cookies
Yield: 36 cookie sandwiches
Prep Time: 4 hour
Cook Time: 30 min
For the cookies:
3 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fleur de sel, plus more for decorating
2 teaspoons ground white pepper
1/4 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch cubes, cool, but not cold
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
1 3/4 cups confectioners' sugar
3 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
3 ounces good-quality dark chocolate (60-72%), melted
For the vanilla filling:
4 ounces vegetable shortening, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small chunks, at room temperature
3 1/4 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon light rum
1. For the cookies, in a large bowl sift together the flour, salt, fleur de sel, white pepper and cocoa powder. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Scrape down the bowl and add the egg yolks, one at a time, scraping the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla and melted chocolate and beat until well-combined. Scrape down the bowl and beat again for 10 seconds.
3. Add half of the dry ingredients and beat for 15 seconds. Scrape down the bowl and add the remaining dry ingredients. Beat until just incorporated.
4. Loosely shape the dough into two balls. Wrap them tightly in plastic wrap and then refrigerate them for at least 3 hours.
5. Preheat the oven to 350. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
6. Unwrap one ball of dough and divide it into two equal portions. Place the first portion on a lightly floured work surface and return the other to the fridge.
7. Use your hands to knead the dough until it is pliable and form it into a small disc. Roll the dough so that it is 1/4-inch thick. Add flour as necessary to prevent it from sticking. Use a 2-inch round cookie cutter to create the sandwich tops and bottoms. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1 inch of space between them. Continue with the remaining dough, rerolling dough as necessary until it is all used up.
8. Sprinkle the tops of the cookies with a little fleur de sel and then bake them for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through. Place the baking sheets on wire racks to cool for 5 minutes. Transfer the cookies to the racks to cool completely before filling them.
9. For the vanilla filling, in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the shortening and butter until smooth. Add the sugar in three parts, mixing each until just combined. Add the salt, vanilla, and rum. Beat again for 10 seconds.
10. To assemble the sandwich cookies, use a pastry bag to apply about 2 tablespoons 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 set up for about 15 minutes before serving. Store the cookies at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
*I substituted butter in place of the shortening in the filling, and also added less sugar in the filling - about 2 1/2 cups instead of the 3 1/4 called for! The filling worked perfectly and tasted great even with these changes.
These were REALLY good sandwich cookies. The cookies themselves were subtly sweet with a hint of spice from all the white pepper in them, but it was balanced out perfectly with the super sweet vanilla buttercream filling. I would definitely be intrigued by them if I saw them on a cookie tray, as I’m really into having a bit of savory or salty with my dessert. These definitely take the Oreo up a notch, in my opinion!
Did this recipe deserve the cover spotlight?
This one’s a little tough, but only because I’ve made so many of the other recipes in this cookbook, and it has my favorite brownie recipe of all time in it (the Sweet and Salty Brownie). However, these are definitely a contender to at least tie with those brownies for the cover spotlight, which is saying a LOT.