Thursday, October 31, 2013
Chocolate Bat Sandwich Cookies
Halloween is here, hooray! I know I'm posting these cute Halloween-inspired cookies terribly late, but hopefully you've made enough Chocolate and Pretzel Rice Krispies and Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups that you'll have faith in me and give these cookies a shot, despite my tardiness. Trust me! These sandwich cookies are worth it. They're simple, delicious, and have a subtle Halloween twist, and I love them.
I got the idea for these cookies a while ago, but originally I wanted to be really ambitious and make little pumpkin jack-o-lantern cutouts on the top cookies, but after a few minutes of pondering I realized I didn't own cookie cutters that were small enough to cut out the features of the jack-o-lantern's face. I certainly was NOT about to individually cut out little triangles with an X-acto knife on 4 dozen or so little cookies to make jack-o-lanterns, because, simply put, I do not have either the time or the patience for that sort of thing. Jack-o-lanterns were just not happening, as cute as those cookies would have turned out. I stumbled across some chocolate sandwich cookies with a bat shaped cutout on Martha Stewart's website, and I thought they were not only adorable, but so much simpler than attempting to create a jack-o-lantern face.
Since I found my cookie inspiration on Martha's website, I initially started out using her recipe for the chocolate cookies, but that only ended in disaster. It was a delicious cookie dough, but it was just not cooperating me. Failures happen to everyone from time to time! After some more searching, I settled on trying out a recipe by Joy of Baking, a site that has consistently proven to give me fantastic recipes, and this time was no different. I ended up with a chocolate roll-out cookie dough that was world's apart from the first dough I tried. Instead of being a sticky, unmanageable, and frustrating mess, this new cookie dough was smooth and beautiful. Cookie dough perfection!
You'll notice that my chocolate cookies are really dark, and if you scroll down a bit further, you'll notice that the cookie dough itself is almost black. This is intentional (don't worry, they're not accidentally burnt). I wanted really dark chocolate cookies because, after all, it is Halloween, and I figured this was the time to make such dark cookies. To get dark cookies like this, you'll need a different type of cocoa powder. People swear by Valrhona, Barry Callebaut, and Sharffen Berger's premium cocoa powders, but given my poor-recent-college-graduate social status, premium cocoa powders are just not happening any time soon. Don't get me wrong, I'd be thrilled to work with premium products like those, but I'll get there eventually. For now, Hershey's Special Dark Cocoa works just fine for me, since it fits my budget and it's the cocoa powder I grew up with. This cocoa powder is a blend of natural and unsweetened cocoa powder, and when placed side by side to "regular" cocoa powder (the unsweetened kind), you'll instantly see just how much darker this cocoa powder is in color; it's almost black! This makes for a cookie with a much deeper flavor and richer color. If you don't have access to dark cocoa powder, just use an unsweetened cocoa powder. You'll get a cookie that's less black in color, but will look more chocolate-brown, if that makes sense. I'll probably do that the next time I make these cookies, since it won't be Halloween! For filling these cookies, I chose to stick with Martha's original suggestion of dulce de leche, and also decided to make half of the sandwich cookies with Nutella. Both sandwich versions were really great. If you're making these for kids, I'd imagine that an orange-tinted buttercream frosting would be right up their alley. Get creative with your cookie fillings!
These chocolate bat sandwich cookies are a simple Halloween treat that, despite my tardiness in posting, you should give a shot anyway. They're really not complicated, as the dough comes together in a few minutes, and after that, it's just a matter of letting the cookies chill in the fridge and rolling them out. Since the fillings are pre-made, these cookies are even easier to put together! The only special piece of equipment you will need for this recipe is a mini aspic cutter set so that you can create the bat cutouts. If you don't have one, no worries. Leave the cookies as they are, and whip up a batch of orange-tinted buttercream and make yourself some faux-Oreos. However you make them, these cookies offer a subtle hint of Halloween spookiness that everyone will love! Enjoy, and be sure to eat a ton of candy. I know that's what I'm gonna be doing...
Chocolate Bat Sandwich Cookies
chocolate cookie recipe from Joy of Baking
cookie sandwiches inspired by Martha Stewart
For the Chocolate Cookies
2 3/4 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
For the Filling
1/2 cup Nutella
1/2 cup dulce de leche
Begin by preparing the cookie dough. Add the flour, cocoa powder, salt, and baking powder to a bowl, and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla extract. Add the flour mixture to the mixer all at once, and beat until you have a smooth dough.
Turn the dough out onto a clean surface and divide in half. Shape each half into a flat disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate the discs of dough for about an hour, or until firm.
Once the cookie dough is firm, prepare baking sheets with silicone liners or parchment paper. On a lightly floured work surface and using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out the dough until it is approximately 1/4 inch thick. Be sure to lift the dough and rotate it as you go, to ensure that it does not stick to your work surface. Using a 2-inch round cookie cutter, cut out circles of dough, and place them onto the prepared baking sheets. Gather the scraps of dough and roll out again to cut more circles. If you find that the dough is getting a little hard to work with, simply place it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up. Repeat until all the cookie dough has been used.
To create the bat shapes, you will need to use the triangle and half-moon cutters from a standard aspic cutter set. Begin by cutting out a triangle from the center of the cookie, with the point facing up. Then, with the half-moon cutter pointing down, cut out a half-moon shape on both sides of the triangle, making sure to intersect them a little, to create the wings. It is best to do this directly on the baking sheet, because if you do so on the counter, you may find that the round cookie will stretch out a bit as you attempt to transfer it to the baking sheet. I did this one on the white counter for clearer demonstration purposes, but the bats for the rest of the cookies were cut directly on the baking sheets. Cut out bat shapes on half of the cookies. I like to make four even rows of cookies on my baking sheets, leaving two rows of cookies as they are for the bottoms, and two rows with cutouts for the tops, just to ensure that I have even sandwiches.
Refrigerate the baking sheets with the cookies for 15 minutes. This is done so that the cookies will retain their shape and won't spread during baking. While the cookies are in the fridge, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Once the cookies have chilled, transfer them to the oven directly from the fridge, and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until they are firm around the edges. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets for a few minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
To assemble the sandwiches, spread Nutella or dulce de leche on the bottom side of a cookie with no cutout. Don't spread the filling all the way to the edges, otherwise you'll have a mess when you press the top cookie down! Leave a small border, and I like to leave a little extra filling in the center of the cookie, so that it comes out slightly through the cutout shape. Top each cookie with a bat cookie to create a sandwich. Enjoy!
Makes about 3 1/2 dozen sandwich cookies