Chocolate Lace Sandwich Cookies

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Sometimes I get free subscriptions to various magazines; which while I do look at (some of) the content, I get them mainly for use in collages and to see the recipes.  I actually paid for a subscription to Sunset magazine as part of a school drive to help a friends son.  I may not be in the west, but it was nice to have recipes that aren’t the everyday of what’s shared by southern people or contained within the pages of magazines written for us.

I love chocolate lace cookies, so when I saw them in the December 2015 issue of Sunset Magazine, I promptly ripped it out and added it to my recipes binder, absolutely intending to make them.  It took a little over a year, but I did it.  They weren’t difficult, but they were a tiny bit tricky.

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A kitten!?  What is this!?

First off, look at this nutter!  I realize that cats shouldn’t really be a feature in a cooking blog, per say, but he was my helper with these cookies.  It’s true!  He rolled around on this table, licking his paws, doing kitten tricks, and generally making me coo and keeping me entertained with his shenanigans.

His name is Inky.  He was a rescue kitten and he’s completely terrible (but in that cute kitten way; but don’t be fooled he can be kind of bad).  He likes to hang around in the kitchen, especially if one is preparing something.  He’ll curiously watch you, entertain you, or hide out in his paper sack or hidey fort made of cardboard boxes.

Awww!  I know!  But, now it’s time to leave Inky doing his cute thing and move on to the recipe.

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Ingredients

 

  • 1 C Quick-Cooking Rolled Oats
  • 1 C Sugar
  • 1/2 C Salted Butter, melted
  • 1 lg Egg, beaten with a fork
  • 1 1/2 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2 tsp Orange Juice
  • 3 Tbs Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 6 oz Semisweet Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees with racks in the upper and lower thirds.

In a medium bowl, mix oats, sugar, and butter together with a wooden spoon.  Stir in egg until well blended, then vanilla and orange juice.  Add flour and salt and stir to mix.  Batter will be somewhat thick.

Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper (or nonstick baking liners).  Drop batter by half-teaspoonfuls onto sheets, at least 2 inches apart (cookies will spread), up to 12 per sheet.  Bake until golden brown, switching positions of sheets halfway through, 8 – 10 minutes total.

Cool cookies on baking sheets until just holding their shape, about 2 minutes (don’t wait until they’re completely cool, as they will be harder to remove).  With a thin metal spatula, gently transfer to cooling racks and let cool completely.

*Put chocolate chips in a microwave safe bowl and heat in 20-second  bursts until almost melted.  Stir to melt completely.

*Thinly spread chocolate on flat side of half of cookies.  Sandwich with another cookie and let harden on racks, about 2 hours at room temperature.

“I call these the ‘backache’ cookies because I always make a double batch, sitting hunched over at the table,” says Fran Pepoon of Roseville, California.  She has been baking these chocolate cookies, which have a subtle hint of orange and vanilla, every Christmas for 30 years, adapting them over time from a recipe given to her by a friend.  Two tips:  The cookies tend to stick and spread, so be sure to use a nonstick baking sheet liner or parchment, and don’t bake more than 12 cookies on each sheet.

I’ll admit that Ms. Pepoon’s description made me slightly hesitant and I almost put these cookies off to bake at some other point in the future, when I read through the entire sheet yesterday.  Also with the recipe stating that it makes 50 cookies and takes 2 hours, plus 2 hours for the cookies to firm.

I don’t know if it’s because I live in a humid environment (because things like that can change baking) or if I was just really lucky, because while all of that “backache” and 4 hour total time seemed daunting and slightly scary, it was not my experience with these cookies.

I followed the said recipe, which was for a single batch, and generally the yield and times should only be for the recipe that follows, so did I speed through this?  Did they misstate and give times for the double batch, but supply the recipe for single?  The yield was correct, as it says about 50 & I had 48 single cookies (before pairing to make sandwich cookies).

As for the time?  It took me about an hour.  That was to melt the butter, line the trays, make the mix, bake the cookies for 10 minutes total with a switch up half-way through, cooling for two minutes, transferring to cooling racks, melting the chocolate, spreading the chocolate and sandwiching.  Also, by the time I finished putting all the cookies together the first one’s were set, so I didn’t have a 2 hour wait time.  Don’t ask, I honestly have no idea how I made cookies in half the time without the setting time, unless they added the time for a double batch.

 

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Melting butter and mixing first ingredients

After preheating the oven, the first thing is to melt the butter.  If you’re anything like me and you forget to do this first, you’ll end up ready to go with a recipe and saying, “hang it all!” because you forgot the butter needed to be softened and/or melted.  That happens to me a lot actually.  At least melting butter is far easier (less time consuming) than letting butter sit around and waiting for it to soften.

And… I’m ready to go but that stick of butter is still melting.  It doesn’t normally take so long, but I used a stick that I’d pulled out of the freezer.  You can melt the butter in the microwave if that’s your thing, but as I don’t have one, all of my recipes and techniques are range and oven centric; which is why I added an asterisk beside the melting chocolate portion, because I’ll show you how to rig a double boiler on the range for that a little later.

 

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Semi-dry mix, and the beaten egg

So, the mix should still look semi dry and rather pretty with just the butter, oats, and sugar, and then you’ll add in that beaten egg, which she does specifically state to beat with a fork.  I don’t see a lot of recipes that say this, and only one comes to mind and it’s for whipping up some scrambled eggs (but really the technique for that one is all in the cooking, instead of the beating).

Adding the hot butter to the oats smelled like I was making oatmeal.  I’ve baked cookies with oats before, but they were always strictly cold or room temperature ingredients being added to it prior to cooking.  I found it slightly exciting, the smell of it.

 

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Adding the vanilla and OJ

So, the egg is in the mix and then you’ll add in vanilla and orange juice.  She, the original recipe lady, states to mix these cookies with a wooden spoon.  She either prefers wooden spoons or it’s helping in some fashion to not beat up the quick-cooking oats.  I’m sure a different spoon would be fine if you didn’t have wood.  It’s what I would do, instead of going out and buying one just for this recipe.  But, still I think at least one wooden spoon is good to have on hand.

 

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Adding the flour and salt; measuring by half-teaspoonfuls

You’ll add the flour and salt and mix to combine.  I also did use an actual half teaspoon to measure out the cookie batter.

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Lining baking sheets

In my house we call them cookie trays, whether that’s what they’re used for or not.  But, the proper term is baking sheet, so I try to use that in these posts, but I might stray.

If you saw my post about frying bacon then you’ll know all about that pan I’m showing you in the right hand photo.  It’s the rather janky tray that is only good for frying bacon on, really, and not for cookies.  However, it’s perfect for cookies if you are supposed to bake them with a liner of some sort, as with this recipe.

I’ve previously mentioned that I do not have a nonstick baking liner, but I do have parchment paper; and this recipe calls for either.

 

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Cookies baking

The recipe states that the oven racks need to be in the top and lower thirds positions.  Took me a minute while I was looking at my oven, but it’s the second from the top and then the second from the bottom.  You don’t want the cookies too far down in the oven, or too hight, but you also want to be able to have room to have a tray beneath a tray.

The recipe gives a total time of 8 – 10 minutes.  I chose 10.  If you do as well, then just set the timer for 5 minutes.  Then switch the position of the trays and reset the timer for another 5.  These were the cookies half-way through cooking.  Some of mine ran into each other, but it didn’t much matter to be honest.  Some of my cookies even ended up slightly oblong.  Once these babies were slapped together as cookies, they just looked pretty and really delicious.  So don’t worry if yours aren’t making perfect shapes.

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Cooling cookies on trays and then magically they’re sandwiches… oops

Then you cool the cookies for two minutes on the trays before transferring them to cooling racks in order to cool completely.  Once they’re on the racks, it’s the time to melt the chocolate, which I’ll get to in a minute.

I’m not much of a crackerjack double baker; as in I’ve not really mastered the baking more than one thing simultaneously in the oven.  So it could be me, but these cookies were all over the place in variations of doneness, which was weird.  You can see that by the double batch still on trays, and then a mix of the batches on the cooling racks.  Which the barely visible ones on the racks are actually the perfect consistency of lace cookies.  Otherwise, I had some that were slightly overcooked (but still really delicious actually), and then those lightest ones that were underdone (which were sadly, no bueno indeed!)

 

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Melting chocolate the old fashioned way

The recipe calls for melting the chocolate in the microwave.  However I don’t have one, and I thought it’d be good to show y’all how to utilize a double boiler with what you have, if you don’t have an actual double boiler that is.

You just need a saucepan and then a metal mixing bowl that fits just into the top of the saucepan.  You don’t want it to sit down in the pan, nor be resting on the top.  And you’ll just need a potholder to hold onto the edge of the bowl while stirring.

For any double boiler, real or fashioned, you’ll need about an inch of water in the bottom of the saucepan and you’ll just turn the range heat up to the 4 – 6 setting (medium heat), as you don’t want to burn the chocolate.

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of spatulas and cookies…

This is the metal spatula I use for transferring cookies from the cookie tray to the cooling racks.  And that’s my cake froster.  I did mention these two items in my baking post, if you read it.  I don’t know why the froster has a serrated edge (unless it’s to scrape a pretty design), but I just use the non-serrated side.  You could use a rubber/silicone scraping spatula, if that works better for you.

I also tried to show the detail of the cookies.  It is difficult to see, but they do have little holes in them, which is fascinating that they end up baking this way.  I wonder who discovered this?  Was it intended in trying to find a perfect “lace” cookie or was it a happy accident?

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Frosting the interiors, and done.

They layer of chocolate should be thin.  You don’t want a large glop of chocolate as it will overpower the entire flavour of the cookies.  It should be a solid, but thin layer of chocolate and you do not need to be perfect and push the chocolate all the way to the edges.

In wrapping this up, I’d like to talk about the weather.  I’m sure everyone reading has heard that if one lives in a high altitude place that a person needs to bake things differently.  If you’ve ever purchased a box of cake or brownie mix, alternate baking directions for high altitude are printed on there.

Though, it’s not talked about as much, high humidity can affect baking and confectionaries.  It’s not constant like high altitude, but it does happen.  I live in the southern portion of Mississippi and high humidity is always a constant here.  It does have ranges, but we always have anywhere between 40% and 95% humidity year round.

You don’t paint anything when it’s raining, especially in the summer because it’ll just end up tacky and won’t dry properly.  You also don’t try and make divinity, meringues or any other similar confectionary that when finished simply dissolves in water or damp, when it is raining.

So, the day that I chose to make these cookies it was a really heavy rain storm, and we were already seeing 60% humidity ranges this past week, and there’s no telling what the humidity was during the rain storm.  I say this because it probably factors into these cookies.

It might explain the unevened cooking and it also might explains the chocolate.  Though one would think that the chocolate might continue to remain liquidy when humidity is a factor…  I’m just not sure.

However, I melted the chocolate and once it was melted, set it to simmer and would stir it occasionally so that it wouldn’t stick or clump up or anything.  It was probably on simmer for 10 minutes?  I wouldn’t have had to do that but the last batch of cookies (the one with some undercooked cookies), I had to bake for almost 20 minutes and they were still undercooked.

As far as the chocolate goes, I started spreading it on the cookies and making sandwiches of them; in all it took about 10 minutes and by the time I was finished the first cookies were set, so really I didn’t have much of a wait time; perhaps 20 minutes total?

So, you might very well have different cookies (or more evenly cooked) or a 2 hour chocolate setting time where you live.  I’m going to bake another batch tomorrow since I want to use up that package of chocolate chips (because it’s not enough for a batch of chocolate chip cookies), and it won’t be raining, so I can see how this set ends up doing.  I will update this post with a brief bit on how that batch goes.

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