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.
There was much hubub on the alternative Daring Bakers forum this month, regarding vegetizing/veganizing the marshmallow cookies. I must confess . . . since only one cookie was "required" for this challenge, I decided to skip trying my hand at vegmallow. I love real marshmallows, and have made them in the past; I also remember how much work they were. :) I had neither time nor energy to get THAT creative this month, unfortunately.
I did, however, attack the Milan cookie recipe with gusto. I chose to follow the challenge recipe as written this month, (except for the lemon and orange flavor additions -- I do NOT like chocolate and citrus together,) even purchasing a couple of sticks of local, organic butter instead of my usual margarine. I was hoping I would be so impressed with this challenge, I'd have a new Christmas cookie to add to my arsenal!
I did make round Milan cookies, as opposed to the usual oval shape, because I just cannot afford to invest in a new pastry bag and tip right now. I used my #70 disher and dropped out blobs of cookie dough, which spread nicely into vaguely round rounds. :) Result? The first couple batches of cookies didn't crisp up like I hoped they would, so I turned the oven up 25 degrees. I achieved crispier, and slightly more browned cookies with this method, but none of the batches stayed crispy when sandwiched with the ganache. The cookies aren't terribly soft, either, which would be okay -- they are more chewy, maybe even a little rubbery? Hm. I'm not giving up quite yet, though -- I assume the heat/humidity is largely contributing to the odd texture, so I will give these another go this fall, once the weather breaks.
One more complaint about this month's challenge -- 2 tablespoons of vanilla in the dough recipe is WAY too much, in my opinion. There is so much real vanilla extract in my cookies they taste almost artificial. I'd cut down to 1 or 2 teaspoons next time, so one can actually taste the butter, flour, egg whites, and sugar, too! :)
Overall, this was still a fun challenge, and something I'm interested in playing around with much more in the future, provided I can figure out a cookie texture that works in my kitchen! :) I may have mint Milan cookies on my holiday tray yet!