Yes, you could enjoy these cookies on their own with a cup of tea or a glass of red wine. And you could make this creamy, decadent sorbet on its own for a summer gathering or even a winter dinner party. But, at least once, try these two as we designed them: as sandwich cookies, almost like tender vanilla cake surrounding a frozen candy bar.
Excerpted from À LA MODE: 120 Recipes in 60 Pairings : Pies, Tarts, Cakes, Crisps, and More Topped with Ice Cream, Gelato, Frozen Custard, and More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough. Copyright © 2016 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin. Photo Copyright © 2016 by Eric Medsker.
Listen to Mark describe this recipe on The Faith Middleton Food Schmooze®.
These cakey cookies are pretty simple, certainly not heroic. We didn't even use butter because we wanted a cleaner palette. (The big flavors are found in the sorbet.) That said, for the most tender cookies, beat as much air as possible into the shortening and sugar, making sure the mixture is fluffy and light before you add the eggs. As they bake, the cookies will spread quite a bit; you'll only be able to put a few on each baking sheet. And don't line the baking sheets with silicone baking mats. Those will insulate the dough and make the cookies spread even more, causing them to crisp at the edges and remain too soft at their centers.
- 2-1/4 cups water
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 9 tablespoons (1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon) unsweetened natural-style cocoa powder
- 4-1/2 ounces dark chocolate, between 70% and 80% cocoa solids, chopped
- 1/3 cup smooth, natural-style peanut butter
- OVEN RACK: top and bottom - OVEN TEMPERATURE: 350°F - PREP: Line two large, rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- TO MAKE THE COOKIE-DOUGH BATTER : Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl until uniform. Set aside.
- Split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Use the edge of a paring knife to scrape the tiny seeds into a second large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer; reserve the pod halves. Using a hand electric mixer or a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment at medium speed, beat the vanilla seeds, sugar, and shortening until creamy and almost fluffy, about 4 minutes.
- Beat in the egg until smooth, scrape down the inside of the bowl, and beat in the egg white. Beat in the milk until creamy, then dump in the flour mixture and beat at low speed just until you have a fairly wet cookie-dough batter. Scrape down and remove the beaters or paddle.
- TO FINISH THE COOKIES: Scoop up about 3 tablespoons of the dough and set it down as a mound on a prepared baking sheet. With damp, clean fingers, press it into a ½-inch-thick disk. Make a few more on the sheet, spacing them 6 inches apart. Then make more on the second baking sheet; you’ll probably get 4 to 6 cookies per sheet. Cover the bowl and the remaining batter with a clean kitchen towel.
- Set one baking sheet on each oven rack; bake the cookies for 8 minutes. Reverse the sheets top to bottom and rotate each back to front. Continue baking until the cookies are pale beige, a little brown at the edges, and definitely set with no jiggle at their centers, about 10 minutes.
- Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and cool the cookies on the sheets for 10 minutes. Transfer the cookies directly to the wire racks and cool completely, about 1½ hours. Cool the baking sheets for 15 minutes before lining again and making more cookies. Store in a sealed container between sheets of wax paper at room temperature for up to 3 days.
- TO MAKE THE CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER SORBET: Whisk the water, sugar, and cocoa powder in a large saucepan over medium heat until smooth; then cook, whisking quite often, until bubbling and somewhat thickened, about 4 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, add the chocolate, and whisk until smooth.
- Pour and scrape the contents of the pan into a blender; add the peanut butter. Cover but remove the center knob from the lid. Cover the lid with a clean kitchen towel and blend until smooth, scraping down the inside of the canister at least once. Set the knob back in the blender’s lid, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 2 days.
- TO FREEZE THE CHOCOLATE-PEANUT BUTTER SORBET: Prepare an ice-cream machine. Blend the contents of the canister one more time, then freeze the mixture in the machine according to the manufacturer’s instructions, until the sorbet is creamy and smooth, until it can hold its shape on a spoon. To store, wrap the sorbet sandwiches individually in plastic wrap and freeze for up to 1 month.
Instructions for each component refer to the specific ingredient list for that component. Example: The cookie-dough batter's instructions call for you to "beat the vanilla seeds, sugar, and shortening...." The instructions are referring to the sugar (1 cup) in the cookie-dough batter's ingredient list (not to be confused with the sugar (3/4 cup) listed in the Chocolate Peanut-Butter Sorbet's ingredient list). The cookie and the sorbet are distinct recipes.
PRO TIP: If you have a convection oven, you can make three or four sheets at once on three or four racks, making sure the bottom rack is at least 5 inches from the heat source. Reduce the oven temperature to about 325°F and rotate the baking sheets in a random way halfway through the baking, turning them all back to front. Reduce the overall baking time to around 15 minutes.
A LA MODE IT: If the sorbet has been in the freezer, first soften it at room temperature for a few minutes. Spoon about 1/4 cup onto the flat side of half the cookies. Top with a second cookie flat side down. Dust with confectioners' sugar, if desired.
PRO TIP: For a more intense flavor, look for dark-roasted, natural-style creamy peanut butter at high-end grocery stores or even some health-food stores.
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