Do you ever choose a recipe just for the chance to break out a piping bag and challenge yourself to get closer to swirly perfection (never attainable, but always fun to try)? Gosh, I adore piping things out, I should really get a job at a bakery one of these days….
The inspiration for these cookies also came, I must admit, from hanging out on my sister’s couch watching – for the first time! – The Great British Bake Off. There’s something about those technical challenges, where each contestant has the same recipe and must execute perfectly, that just fires me up so much! One of the first episodes I saw had them piping out dozens of identical sandwich butter cookies, and I think I was already in the kitchen before the show ended, cause, butter cookies! With shapes!
I made up a promising dough, helped my sister make a few pounds of pup-cakes for her 3-year-old’s birthday, got exhausted and passed out next to my own toddler, leaving the dough on the counter in a relatively cold kitchen, hoping it would be perfectly pipe-able the next day.Well… it piped well enough. The next morning I squidged out rows of pretty rosettes and spiral snails, sent them into the oven with love, and… they came out completely connected. A broad flat sea-of–biscuit, if you will. Delicious, but-ummmmm a bit 2-dimensional and Y u no cookie???
I’ve made these fine before! Gosh. So after getting home to my own kitchen and my own library, I checked Bo Friberg’s Professional Pastry Chef Vol. 1 and sure enough, there were a number of beautiful looking formulas, because he’s tight like that with European cookies. I chose the recipe that called for pastry flour because I had soft wholemeal flour on hand, and Voila!Fancy pants sandwich cookies for days. And I ate them for breakfast all those days. Since the flour is healthy they are obviously health food. Which means that sandwiching them with butter ganache just moves them to the ‘brain food’ category. Muffin approves.
Whole Wheat Danish Cardamom Cookies w. Butter Ganache
The texture of these is very similar to those yellow cookies that come in the blue tin – strong but crumbly, with melt-in-your-mouth butter taste. The difference is that they also have a mild wholemeal flavour and a slight nubbliness, like a Digestive biscuit. You can also add sprinkles for extra fun.
The ganache is optional but awesome. It’s made with butter to enhance the overall flavour, and to keep the cookies crisp. If you have any coffee extract (or wanted to experiment with infusing butter with coffee flavour), I highly recommend going for it.
Adapted from Bo Friberg’s Strassberger cookies in The Professional Pastry Chef: Fundamentals
Makes about 60 cookies (or 30 sandwich cookies)
- 2 sticks (226 grams) unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
- ¾ cup (150 grams) white sugar
- 2 large eggs (100 grams) + 1 egg yolk (20 grams)
- ¾ tsp vanilla extract
- 3¾ cups (376 grams) whole wheat pastry flour
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¾ teaspoon fresh ground cardamom
- 9 oz. (255 grams) dark chocolate
- 1 stick (113 grams) unsalted butter
- pinch of fine sea salt
- 1 teaspoon high quality coffee extract, such as Trablit (optional)
For the cookies: Preheat oven to 375℉
Sift together the flour, salt and cardamom into a medium bowl. Discard the excess bran that is leftover.
Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.
Fold in the dry ingredients in two instalments, mixing just until the dough comes together. Scrape the dough into a large piping bag fitted with a 12 mm star tip , and let it rest for 5 minutes to let the gluten relax.
Line two baking sheets with parchment and secure it by piping out dots of dough to stick it to each corner. Pipe cookies into desired shapes, then chill the pans in the fridge for at least 20 minutes before baking.
Bake for about 12 minutes, turning once, until the bottoms and edges are lightly browned. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool completely.
If making sandwiches, arrange your cookies by size and shape into pairs, leaving one of each pair upside down and ready to be filled.
For the ganache: Melt the chocolate and butter together in a small bowl set over a simmering pot of water. Stir gently until smooth, then add the salt and coffee extract (if using).
Let the ganache cool to a pipe-able consistency; room temperature is safest way to do this and it takes the longest. You can also set the bowl in the fridge for short bursts of about 1 minute to speed up the process. Be careful though – it will continue to stiffen as it cools, so be sure not to overshoot the temperature. You can clean your piping bag as you wait. ;)
Once spreadable, mix the ganache gently (without aerating) to make it homogenous and scrape into a clean piping bag fitted with a 12 mm round tip. Pipe uniform blobs onto your waiting cookie pairs and press to unify.
Baked & filled cookies will keep for 5 days at room temperature, tightly sealed.