December 19, 2011

Chocolate-Dipped Ginger Creme Sandwiches

When Newman's Own first started copying popular cookies, I was skeptical. I'd had Hydrox, and they are just not as good as Oreos. But I decided to give them a go anyway. I started with the Fig Newman. Turns out, it puts the Fig Newton to shame. It is more flavorful and doesn't have that I-was-made-with-crisco chewiness of the Fig Newton. Next stop, Newman-Os. I skipped the traditional chocolate and went for the ginger: the Ginger-O's. Well, folks, they're delicious. The are great to gobble up plain. They are ideal for dipping in hot chocolate. They open up nicely for a homemade double-stuffed. Best of all, they are fantastic crumbled with a mortar and pestle, sprinkled on raspberry sorbet, and drenched with chocolate sauce. You may notice a pattern here. Many baked goods that enter my house, suffer a similar fate.

If anything was ever trendy right now in the cooking/baking world it is making from scratch something that is much easier to buy at the store. Pop tarts. Yogurt. Pasta. Ricotta. Marshmallows. And, of course, Oreos. I'm totally on board with this trend. I like the challenge. "You have an industrial kitchen (a factory even) and hundreds of employees? Ha. I have a kitchen aid mixer and a stubborn streak. I can do anything you can do!"

I can make Ginger-O's. Okay, well, it turns out I can't. But, I can make gingersnap sandwich cookies, that, if I do say so myself, are pretty damn good. To start, I turned to one of my favorite food bloggers, who had recently adapted the Oreo for the home kitchen. I used her gingersnap recipe and an adaptation of her oreo creme recipe. And then I adlibbed. Why stop with a sandwich cookie, when you can have a sandwich cookie dipped in dark chocolate? Why stop with a chocolate-dipped sandwich cookie, when you could sprinkle that chocolate with sea salt? Why stop with a sea salt-sprinkled, chocolate-dipped sandwich cookie, when you could also sprinkle on some raw sugar? And let's stop there. Yum.

To be sure, these cookies have a lot going on. But somehow it all works. It worked especially well after they sat for a few days and the cookies got a bit softer than they were when I first baked them. I thought I wanted a very crisp cookie, so I went for the longer end of the bake time. When I make these next, I will go for the shorter end, perhaps 12 minutes instead of 14. But this is to your taste. I like the crispy cookies on their own, but when you bite the sandwich, if the cookies are too crispy, the creme squirts out the sides. Slightly softer is better. More of a coherent cookie experience.

The chocolate dipping is definitely optional. I love them this way. But adding the chocolate is what my mother would call gilding the lily. If you are trying to make a cookie that will stand out at your office holiday party or will really wow your friends and family, then why not gild away?

- Franklin

Chocolate-Dipped Gingersnap Sandwiches
Adapted from here and here at Smitten Kitchen
Total Time: 5 Hours
Sweetness Factor: 7; Indulgence Factor: 8; Difficulty Factor: 7; Chance I'll Make Them Again: 8.

For the Cookies:
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 teaspoons ground ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1 large egg
1/3 cup unsulphured molasses (not blackstrap)
2 tablespoons finely chopped crystallized ginger

For the Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening (I like earth balance)
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons ginger syrup

Note: The ginger syrup is by Morris Kitchen. I bought it at a small shop in Philadelphia, but it is available online. You could also make some from scratch.

For the dipping:
8 ounces dark chocolate
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon sea salt (I used black salt)
2 tablespoons raw sugar

To prepare the cookies, whisk together all the dry ingredients (the flour, baking soda, salt, and spices). Set aside. In a stand mixer, cream the butter and the sugars. Beat a few minutes, until fluffy. Add the molasses, the egg, and the crystallized ginger. Beat until thoroughly combined. On low speed, gradually add the dry ingredients. Once the flour mix is completely combined, dump the dough onto a piece of plastic wrap. Wrap it up and chill for about two hours.

Preheat the oven to 350. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll the dough into balls of about 3/4 inch in diameter. You can make them bigger if you want, but these cookies are intense enough, that I think it is better to keep them pretty small. Bake for 11-12 minutes.

I let the cookies cool, stored them for the night, and made the filling the next day, but you could go ahead and start the filling while the cookies are cooling. To make the filling, combine all the ingredients in a stand mixer and beat until thoroughly combined. To assemble the cookies, you can either use a pastry bag, which take longer to set up but is then neater and more efficient, or a teaspoon. Match the cookies, so each has a partner that is evenly sized. On the bag of one of each pair, put a dollop of frosting. About two teaspoons worth. Sandwich the cookies together.

Melt the chocolate in a double-boiler. Once it is melted, remove from heat and add the butter (or you could use vegetable oil). Stir in, until butter is melted too. Let the chocolate cool until close to room temperature. If your house is anywhere as cold as mine (63 on a good day) you might not want to wait to long because the chocolate will set very quickly. Dip each cookie 1/4 to a 1/3 in to the chocolate. Lay it on a piece of parchment paper, and don't move it until the chocolate is set. Let sit for a few minutes and then put a pinch of salt and a sprinkle of sugar on each cookie.

Once the chocolate is totally set, the cookies should keep very well in an airtight container for a few days. You may want to separate each layer with a piece of parchment paper, but this is only important if you are very worried about presentation and want the cookies to stay very pristine.

1 comment:

  1. Ha ha, I loved your observation on "what is trendy" these days.