Milan Cookies

This month Daring Bakers’ Challenge was Gale Gand’s cookies, and there were two different varieties to choose from – Milan cookies (ganache-sandwiched thin crispy cookies) and chocolate-covered marshmallow cookies. I intended to make both, and I still do. The marshmallows are in production, four different kinds. I just simply couldn’t finish them on time due to a bunch of circumstances. I will probably post the rest within a week, since dear Nicole from the Sweet Tooth, the host of the challenge, generously extended the posting date. Meanwhile, here’s my interpretation of the Milan cookies.

First ones are lemon-flavored cookies filled with white chocolate and raspberry ganache. I wanted to figure out a perfect formula for white chocolate and fresh berry/fruit puree ganache. I liked the idea to tame the chocolate sweetness with sour fruit. So, I experimented. And the final result was satisfying in every way – flavor was great and the texture was extra-creamy.

The second kind is coconut cookies sandwiched with dark chocolate coconut ganache filling. I used unsweetened coconut milk and a bit of rum in the ganache. It was very nice, but the coconut flavor could be more pronounced. Although, once placed between two coconut cookies, it seemed to get interesting enough.

I loved them both. The cookies were the best (the crispiest) the day they were sandwiched together. I would definitely recommend assembling them the day you plan to serve and keeping the leftovers in the refrigerator.

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Mango and Blueberry Fool with Coconut Meringue

As easy as it gets – lightened by whipped cream fresh mango puree with blueberries and crushed coconut meringue folded in. Without taking into the account the meringue cookies (which are good on their own, not just as an addition to the fool), the dessert takes about five minutes to assemble. It tastes light and fresh, just the thing needed when the whether is so crazy hot.

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Gingered Strawberry Shortcakes

This is an American classic in a way I like it most – the tops of the biscuits are sprinkled with crystallized ginger and the strawberries themselves are marinated in ginger-lemon syrup. Instead of the more traditional whipped cream, I prefer a mascarpone-sour cream mixture for the filling. Well, maybe it’s quite a deviation from the classic, but a very good-tasting one.

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Potato, Fontina and Black Olive Tapenade Pizza

My family loves pizza regardless of topping; as long as there’s a good crust and melted cheese on it. I am a bit pickier, but even I find this not-quite-traditional pizza to be delicious.

The crust recipe I used here is Peter Reinhart’s. This one is among my favorite recipes, probably the second favorite. The first place is held by another Peter’s recipe which is a bit lengthier and requires a poolish pre-ferment (I’ll post it one day). I always make a whole batch of dough (enough to make four pizzas) and keep it refrigerated until needed. The dough, made on Friday, is usually turned into a quick assorted pizza-lunch on Saturday and Sunday.

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Stilton Cheesecake Tarts with Rhubarb Pink Peppercorn Compote and Walnut Crumble

Before you wrinkle your nose and leave my site, let me quickly tell you that this combination is very, very good. I probably wouldn’t serve it to toddlers; I doubt they will appreciate it. But a more mature audience will be certainly pleased.

My big thanks to my dear friend Olga who provides me with fresh rhubarb from her garden every season.

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