Moving right along, we come to —
CHOCOLATE GINGERBREAD MARSHMALLOW BARS
These are meant to look a LOT like ice cream bars. I made a couple different versions, experimenting with different flavors, with different techniques of assembly, and with the amount of marshmallow. I found making a full recipe of marshmallow was better, both to make the cookies look A LOT like ice cream bars and for the marshmallow to balance the cookie and for ease of prep.
To my surprise, I liked this gingerbread version significantly better than the kind I made with plain chocolate cookies and coconut marshmallow. Until this contest, I was under the impression that I didn’t like chocolate combined with ginger. Apparently I was wrong! These are good, not THAT hard, and just plain fun to serve.
2 2/3 C. flour
1 C less 1 Tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp ground ginger
¾ tsp salt
1/8 tsp baking powder
1 ½ sticks butter
1 stick margarine
1 C. sugar
2 egg yolks – here’s what to do with the yolks if you used the whites for the paciencia!
1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger
1 recipe marshmallows, prepared like THIS, but with 1 Tbsp grated fresh ginger and 1 C. minced crystallized ginger added.
Combine the flour, cocoa, ginger, salt, and baking powder. Cream the butter and sugar. Beat in the egg yolks and grated ginger. Chill the dough thirty minutes or so. Divide in half. Roll out each half, between a sheet of parchment paper and a sheet of waxed paper, to a 12 x 8 inch rectangle. Peel off the waxed paper and trim the edges so you have two nice straight-edged rectangles, still on the parchment paper.. Poke holes in the dough with the end of thermometer or similar blunt instrument – you want the holes to look like the ones in ice cream sandwiches. Lift the paper with the rolled-out dough onto baking sheets and bake at 350 degrees for 16-18 minutes, until set. Try not to overbake. Cool completely on the baking sheets because if you try to lift the parchment paper up, the cookie sheets will break, which isn’t a total disaster because the marshmallow will disguise a lot of flaws, but try not to break the cookies if possible.
Now, fit one cookie into a shallow 13 x 9 inch baking dish, which you have prepared by lining it with foil and spraying the foil and sides of the dish with cooking spray. Now prepare the marshmallow and pour it over the cookie, working fairly briskly because it is easier to spread while warm. Top with the second cookie sheet. Cover the dish loosely with plastic wrap and let rest at room temperature overnight to let the marshmallow set.
The next morning, use the foil to slide the whole shebang out of the baking dish. Use a pizza cutter sprayed with cooking spray to trim extra marshmallow away from the edges. (You can eat that extra marshmallow as a reward for tackling this recipe – not that it’s that hard, honest.)
Cut into bars about the size and shape of ice cream bars. I found a 3 x 2 inch bar looked nice. The best way to cut the cookie is to use a sharp serrated knife to gently saw through the top cookie, then press straight down through the marshmallow and bottom cookie layer. Dip the edges of the marshmallow into cornstarch if you wish, to keep them from sticking to everything. I am pretty sure you will get admiring comments when you serve these. Plus, they’re really good. I kind of overdosed on the first batch I made.
CHOCOLATE ORANGE PINENUT SPIRALS
I saw a picture that looked nice in a cooking magazine, but totally changed the dough. I didn’t add enough orange when I made them; I’m going to suggest ingredients that should significantly bounce the orange flavor, but I admit I haven’t actually tried the cookies again with the adjusted ingredients.
1 C. butter
4 oz cream cheese
1 C brown sugar
1 egg yolk
½ tsp orange extract (I didn’t include this in my trial run, but I think I should have)
2 Tbsp Grand Marnier OR orange juice concentrate
2 ½ C. flour
¼ C. cocoa powder
½ C. ground pine nuts or other nuts
A filling to make sandwich cookies with, if you wish – for the contest, I used an ordinary chocolate ganache with a bit of orange extract and a good pinch of cayenne. This was fine, but a caramel-orange filling would be a good choice, or my brother suggested vanilla ice cream, which I am pretty sure would be fabulous. But the cookies aren’t bad at all just as-is.
Cream the butter, cream cheese, and sugar. Beat in the egg yolk and orange flavorings. Add flour. Divide the dough into two portions. Add the cocoa to one half and the ground nuts to the other half. Chill about an hour. Roll out each portion between two sheets of waxed paper to a 16 x 8 rectangle. Peel the top sheet of paper off the nut layer and use the other sheet of waxed paper to help you lay it over the chocolate layer. You do want the chocolate layer on the bottom because it is going to be stiffer than the nut layer, which will make it easier to roll the dough up jelly-roll style if you have the chocolate layer on the bottom. (Yes, I am speaking from experience.) Roll up the two layers together into a nice tight spiral. This is not at all difficult. Wrap the log of dough in plastic wrap and chill until very firm – several hours or overnight.
Slice the log ¼ inch thick and lay the slices on parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 9 to 11 minutes, until set and just a little browned on the bottom. Cool completely on racks. Use whatever filling you like to assemble into sandwich cookies, if you like. These are pretty and impressive and really not at all difficult.