Sourdough Surprises has challenged us this month to make biscuits with our starters. Biscuits traditionally use baking powder for leavening as the rapid rise is what gives them their fluffy texture, so I was interested to see what effect adding starter might have on the recipe.
I decided to use freshly fed sourdough in my grandmother’s recipe for Cloud Biscuits as I keep a fairly small amount of starter on hand. This recipe is one of a collection of recipes she gave me when I was a kid that I actually still use as an adult. It’s a bit unusual for biscuit recipe as it calls for an egg. The biscuits come out tender and tall on their own, but I think they came out even taller with the starter in them. The sourdough flavor is subtle, but is there if you’re looking for it.
I’ve changed my grandmother’s recipe somewhat over the years, but I’ve kept the egg in. I’m not sure what purpose it serves, but the biscuits are tasty so I always use it. I do use butter in place of the shortening as I really like the buttery flavor in the biscuit and I seldom have shortening on hand. I also started using a folding technique a few years ago for biscuits that I really like. Instead of a few quick kneads of the dough before shaping, I pat the dough into a rectangle and then fold one end up and the other end over the top of the first like a paper going into an envelope. I turn the dough and roll it out into a rectangle and repeat the folding and rolling two more times. Then, since I don’t like to re-roll dough scraps, I roll the dough out into a rectangle again and cut the dough with a knife into rectangles or squares. I get really good lift to the biscuits this way. If you don’t mind wasting a little dough, the biscuits will rise even better if you cut off the final folded edges but I don’t usually bother. Another technique I like is to pre-heat my baking sheet so that I’m plopping the biscuits right onto a piping hot pan. I love the little sizzle! This also seems to help the biscuits rise nicely.
What is better than a humble homemade oatmeal cookie? How about TWO cookies sandwiched together with caramelized white chocolate mixed with cream? That’s what I did to make these Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Caramelized White Chocolate Filling (that’s a mouthful in more ways than one!). I’ve been wanting to try making caramelized white chocolate for a while now. It turned out to be very easy and kind of fun to do, not to mention tasty. I’m not usually a fan of white chocolate, but caramelizing it makes it so much better! White chocolate is cooked in a low oven for about 30 minutes or so, stirring every 5 minutes. It goes from snowy white to golden brown and results in something that tastes a bit like a liquid graham cracker with a hint of white chocolate. You could just eat it with a spoon or spread it on a scone, but it makes a great filling for cookies.
Here is the step-by-step visual of how the caramelization came together. I used Ghirardelli bars since that was the best white chocolate I could find. Good quality white chocolate with actual cocoa butter is required for this process. White chocolate chips are not the same quality and often do not melt well, so make sure you’re using the good stuff. The broken up (or chopped) chocolate melts quickly in a 266F/130C oven. As it cooks, it begins to look curdled and then chunky and dried up. However, once you take it out of the oven and stir for a few minutes, it comes back together in a mixture that is a bit like granular peanut butter. I wasn’t able to get it completely smooth, which may have something to do with the amount of cocoa butter in this particular brand of chocolate. You could also just use the chunks and mix those into a cookie. It will solidify at room temperature, but can be remelted slowly in a jar set into some warm water.
Before the chocolate cooled, I mixed it with some simmered cream and vanilla to make a sweet ganache. I decided to make an easy slice-and-bake oatmeal cookie and sandwich it with the caramelized white chocolate filling. The oatmeal does a nice job of tempering the sweetness of the filling and goes well with the filling.
Since I used vanilla in both the filling and the cookie, I am submitting this to the We Should Cocoa challenge for May, the theme of which was to use vanilla with chocolate. The Vanilla Challenge is hosted by Karen at Lavendar and Lovage.
Oatmeal Sandwich Cookies with Caramelized White Chocolate
Author: BakeNQuilt.com adapted from Food 52 and Bon Appetit
Recipe type: Dessert
Serves: 12 sandwiches
Hearty oatmeal cookies sandwiched with caramelized white chocolate filling
For the cookies:
½ cup (4oz/113g/1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
½ cup (3.75oz/106g) light brown sugar, packed
¼ cup (1.75oz/50g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. Vanilla Bean Paste (or vanilla extract)
1 cup (3.5oz/99g) old fashioned rolled oats (not instant)
¾ cup (105g) all-purpose unbleached flour
¼ cup (1oz/28g) white whole wheat flour (or regular whole wheat)
⅛ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
½ tsp. baking soda
pinch of salt
½ cup (3oz/85g) mini chocolate chips (optional)
For the filling:
8 oz/227g good quality white chocolate, chopped
pinch of sea salt
½ cup (4oz/113g) heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla
To make the cookies, mix the butter and sugars together in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy.
Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then add in the egg and vanilla and beat well.
Add the oats, both flours, nutmeg, baking soda and salt and mix just until it comes together, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed.
By hand, stir in the chocolate chips.
On some plastic wrap, shape the dough into a log about 2 inches in diameter. Roll it up and seal it in the plastic wrap and freeze for at least 2 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350F/176C. While the oven is preheating, take the dough out of the freezer and let it sit for 5-10 minutes so it is easier to slice but still firm. You may want to roll it back and forth to round it if it has flattened on one side from sitting in the freezer.
Slice the log into ½ inch discs with a sharp knife.
Bake on a parchment lined baking sheet for 10-12 minutes until the edges are set and the centers are just beginning to set. The cookies spread so do not place them too closely together.
Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5-10 minutes and then move them to racks to cool completely.
While the cookies are cooling, make the filling.
To caramelize the white chocolate, place it on an unlined baking sheet and place it in a 266F/130C oven. Every 5 minutes, stir the chocolate. The chocolate will melt and then begin to get some color. When it's a nice caramel brown color, take the pan out of the oven. Depending on the brand of chocolate you use and the size of the pieces, this will take 30-45 minutes. At this point, the chocolate may look really granular. Stir it well as it cools to bring it together in a creamy mass. and then stir in a pinch of salt.
To make the filling, simmer the cream and then pour it over the caramelized white chocolate in a medium sized bowl. Let it sit for 5 minutes and then gently whisk it together until it is creamy and smooth. Stir in the vanilla. Let the mixture sit at room temperature, stirring occasionally, until it is thick enough to hold together when spread on a cookie.
Spread the filling on the bottom side of half of the cookies and then top with a second cookie. Let sit at room temperature until the filling solidifies a little more. Serve at room temperature.
The caramelized white chocolate can be made ahead. It will solidify at room temperature, so place it in a heat-safe jar and set it in some warm water to soften when you're ready to use it.