Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Elf Cookies: An homage to E.L. Fudge


The Setting: A cozy apartment on a chilly winter's day.

The Soundtrack: A marathon of HGTV's Love it or List it. And Oia's lovely warbles.

Steaming up the Oven: Cheese toast.

The Scenario: The Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap and something sweet for Santa's little helpers....

If you follow this blog, you probably know by now I have a bit of an obsession with re-creating childhood treats.

I've never been much of a hard-cookie girl, always opting for Soft Batch over Chips Deluxe.

But if there were one crunchy supermarket cookie that could call me back to childhood as quickly as my treasured, squishy Oatmeal Creme Pie, it would be the firm and buttery Keebler sandwich cookie, shaped like an elf and filled with fudgy goodness--man, those things were good.

So when my recent attempt at Homemade Oreos came out better than I could have imagined, my very first thought was, "I wonder if I could tweak this recipe to make my own version of E.L. Fudge?!"

Aside from switching chocolate out of the cookies and into the filling, I had to get more flavor into the cookies themselves. To accomplish this, I brought a bit of buttermilk powder to the mix to accentuate the flavor of the butter and compliment the chocolate in the filling.

Since these cookies benefit from a richer buttery flavor, the neutral-flavored coconut oil was replaced with more butter, and a touch of malted milk powder was added to round out the flavor profile.

While I wasn't about to track down an elf-shaped cookie cutter for this endeavor, I also knew I wanted a shape quite distinct from the simple, circular Oreos--these are an E.L. Fudge remake, not Oreos gone blond. I used a heart-shaped cutter I had on hand, and I love its rippled edges. Try a two-inch, Christmas-tree-shaped cutter for a more festive alternative.


Elf Cookies
The name Elf Cookies is an homage to their inspiration, Keebler E. L. Fudge--and bonus, it's quite appropriate for the season. Santa always gets cookies for Christmas--why not leave a little something for his helpers?

~for the cookies~
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 T powdered buttermilk
3/4 tsp fine-grain salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup corn syrup
1 1/4 tsp pure vanilla extract

~for the filling~
10 T unsalted butter
pinch salt
1 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tsp malted milk powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips, melted and cooled but still pourable

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Position a rack in the center of the oven.

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, buttermilk powder, salt, and baking soda. Set aside.

Beat the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Beat in the corn syrup and vanilla until smooth. Add the flour mixture, beating on low speed until fully incorporated. The dough should be crumbly but malleable.


Turn the dough out onto parchment paper, divide in half, and use wet hands to shape each half into a flat disk.


Working with one half (or disk) of the dough at a time, sandwich the dough between two baking-sheet-sized sheets of parchment paper and use a rolling pin to roll out the dough to a thickness of about 1/4 inch. If the dough is too dry to roll out with out cracking, wet your hands and gently pat the cracked areas back together. Remove the top sheet of parchment and cut out hearts or the shape of your choice. I used a 2-inch-tall, ripple-edged, heart-shaped cookie cutter.




You can either carefully transfer the hearts to a parchment-lined baking sheet, or carefully peel up the excess dough, leaving the hearts where they are, and transfer that sheet of parchment to a baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees F for 8 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 3-5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool completely.


Re-roll dough scraps and repeat, using fresh sheets of parchment as needed. Repeat whole process with remaining half of dough.

To prepare the filling, beat the cold butter along with a pinch of salt until smooth. Add the vanilla and powdered sugar and beat till well-mixed. The mixture should be thick, white, and almost dough-like. Beat in the melted chocolate.



Turn the filling out onto a sheet of parchment paper and divide in half.


Working with one half at a time, roll the filling out between two sheets of parchment until it is between 1/8- and 1/4-inch thick. Use the same cutter you used for the cookies to cut out shapes of the filling. If you feel like the filling is not stiff enough for easily cutting out shapes, place the rolled-out filling (still between the sheets of parchment) on a baking sheet and chill in the fridge for up to 20 minutes.


Place a filling shape on a cooled cookie, top with another cookie, and press very gently to adhere.



Repeat with remaining cookies and filling.



Makes about 40 sandwich cookies.





These cookies were part of the 2012 Great Food Blogger Cookie Swap, which is a little like secret Santa for food bloggers. I shipped these cookies to three participating food bloggers, and I'll get to sample cookies from three different bloggers. This year, each participant paid a small sign-up fee, and all the money went to Cookies for Kids' Cancer. Not a bad way to celebrate the season!


Thanks for reading! Here's to Being the Secret Ingredient in your life.

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