I’m sorry for the radio silence here lately. You see, there’s only so much typing you can do with a taco in one hand and a margarita in the other, you know?
Okay, you hate me now. You’re probably trapped inside an office cubicle in a snowstorm as we speak, clutching a mug of hot tea desperately to your chest and edging your feet nearer to your space heater. Would it help if I pointed out that my right arm is a little bit sunburned? Or that today wasn’t completely cloudless here on this pristine beach?
Well, there was only that one cloud, around noon. And my right elbow might be burned but my face is tanned and ultra-freckled.
But never mind that! I have cookies for you.
I’ll be back with you soon enough, so in the meantime I figured I could send help in the form of carbs. This is one of my very favorite comfort food recipes.
My little sister used to bake me these chocolate sandwich cookies. She’d send them to me as a surprise when I was in college. I’d wrap them up, trying to savor each one, but would usually fail to pace myself at all.
The filling is very sweet (much sweeter than an Oreo), but the cookie itself is barely sweet and not too rich, getting its dark chocolate flavor instead from cocoa.
Made from a crumbly, buttery sable-type dough, they can be made thinner or thicker to accommodate your level of desperation: How much cookie do you need in each mouthful? Has the winter driven you to a code red, level 10 comfort food alert?
If so, roll them out to a generous ¼-inch thickness. If you’re feeling a bit more stable, I’d go with 1/8-inch thickness.
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies
Adapted from King Arthur Flour
**If you don't love the idea of a very sweet filling with shortening, you can sub this excellent white chocolate filling from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery.**
For the cookies
1 cup + 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
3/4 cup butter
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup Dutch-process cocoa or black cocoa (I prefer black)
For the filling
2 1/2 cups confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup vegetable shortening
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (omit if you're making the peppermint version)
2 teaspoons cold water
Cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat well.
Whisk together the flour, salt, and cocoa. Add to the wet ingredients and beat to combine.
Scoop the dough into a ball, flatten into a disc, and wrap in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out the dough (it can be sticky, so if it is, dust your rolling pin and surface lightly with cocoa, not flour), and cut out 2 1/2" or 3" circles.
Bake the cookies for about 18-20 minutes. Keep a close eye on them -- the cocoa makes it hard to tell by sight when they are ready so if the chocolate smells burnt, whisk them out!
Let the cookies cool for 5 minutes, then transfer them to a wire rack to finish cooling.
While the cookies cool, make the filling by beating together the sugar, shortening, and vanilla. Add the water and mix until smooth and spreadable. (Sometimes I leave the water out and I leave the filling as a paste-like texture, then I roll the filling out -- almost like a fondant -- and slice out circles using the same cookie cutter. This is a good method if you care about your cookies looking perfect, because then the filling is just the right size.) Spread filling on a cookie, then top with another.