Nostalgia seems to drive many cooks to recreate “classic” recipes, testing them against hazy memories in hopes of discovering something just as good, or better yet, even more delicious than the original. Entering into this month’s Daring Baker challenge, I had the sense that many of my fellow bakers had this exact mission in mind, whether the resulting comparisons would be intentional or not. However, having long since forgotten my last experience of eating a Milano cookie perhaps a decade ago, and never having shared the company of a Mallomar at all, it was a whole new arena for me, and I was very excited about that. Without wistful recollections to weigh me down and close my mind off to new ideas, the potential for innovation that each cookie held was more tempting than the promise of a sweet treat alone. Despite rushing off to Paris and a number of deadline crunches, there was just no way I would miss this challenge.
The July Daring Bakers’ challenge was hosted by Nicole at Sweet Tooth. She chose Chocolate Covered Marshmallow Cookies and Milan Cookies from pastry chef Gale Gand of the Food Network.
Where, oh where to start? Hemming and hawing over various shapes, presentations, and tastes, I finally settled on a simpler approach and focused on adding fresh flavors to these otherwise uninspiring chocolate-and-vanilla childhood staples. With the terrible heat and unquenchable thirst that it brings, the refreshing zest of a few summery drinks sounded like the perfect place to start.
And it wasn’t just a liquid fix I was craving! Fresh lime zest and mint straight from the garden made their way into the raw batter, giving the crisp cookies a delightful zip. Infusing the ganache of my Milano look-alikes with a healthy splash of rum was what really pulled the treat together though, creating irresistible mojito milans.
The real challenge, as one may have guessed, was creating a vegan marshmallow for the mallomars. Luckily, I had been experimenting recently on just that fluffy confection in question, so I had a pretty good grasp of it from the start. Although my mallow was a bit too soft in the end, all was not lost- into the hemisphere mold it went, and a long stay in the freezer fixed the situation.
This time around, my base cookies were imbued with the zest of an orange, and all of the plain water in my mallows was replaced with champagne. A quick dip in some dark chocolate, and voila- Mimosa mallomars! Both a refined, mature treat that’s still fun and a bit whimsical at the same time.
Time was not on my side, and I didn’t manage to squeeze in the complicated plating originally planned for these lovely mallomars, but at least this was something. Dipping one of the extra cookies half way in chocolate, and then topping that with a big scoop of chocolate ice cream, it was a pleasing, if not impressive, dessert all together. Really, it didn’t need a single thing to make it any more special though, as the mallow is an all-day recipe, making it a rare treat indeed.
Alone and unadorned though, both treats were even better when served chilled!