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I’ve been dithering for years about entering the Scharffen Berger annual chocolate adventure contest, never quite pulling the trigger until finally, this winter, I got myself together enough to do some testing and submit something.  I have to admit I didn’t love this year’s theme of sandwich cookies, but I went for it anyway, never really expecting I had a chance.  And, of course, I didn’t, because I didn’t even get an honorable mention.

But my loss, as the title says, is your gain, because I already have the pictures taken and the recipe written up, and since Scharffen Berger has no further claim on it, you all can have it instead.  The point of the contest, besides using their chocolate, is to incorporate at least one “adventure ingredient”, which this year included coconut milk or coconut cream, sweet potato, tapioca or tapioca flour, tequila, banana, chili pepper, pine nuts, corn meal, Sumatra coffee, fresh ginger, yerba mate tea, and cacao nibs.

I ended up using coffee and coconut milk in a sandwich of coffee-flavored shortbread rounds, rolled in coconut and pressed around a coconut milk and milk chocolate ganache spiked with coconut rum.  They’re good, but apparently not good enough. Oh, well. Maybe next year.

Coconut Mocha Buttons
Makes approximately 3 dozen cookies

For coffee shortbread:

2 tablespoons coffee liqueur
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons finely ground Sumatra coffee
1 tablespoon instant coffee
8 ounces (16 tablespoons) cold, unsalted European-style butter, cut into tablespoon-sized cubes
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons cornstarch
Unsweetened, finely shredded coconut for rolling

For coconut milk chocolate ganache:

8 ounces Scharffen Berger Extra Rich Milk Chocolate, finely chopped
4 ounces (1/2 cup) coconut milk (not low-fat)
1 tablespoon unsalted European-style butter
1/8 teaspoon sea salt
2 tablespoons coconut rum

Combine the coffee liqueur, vanilla extract, Sumatra coffee and instant coffee in a small bowl.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes.

In a food processor, blend the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and salt until a fluffy paste forms.  Scrape down the bowl and add the coffee mixture, processing again until fully incorporated.  Whisk the flour and cornstarch together in a medium bowl and add to the creamed butter, pulsing just until a ball of dough begins to form around the blade.

Divide the dough in half and shape the first half into a roll 1 1/2 to 2 inches in diameter on a sheet of parchment paper.  Sprinkle several tablespoons of coconut along the edge of the cookie dough and roll it through the coconut until fully coated.  Tightly wrap the roll in the parchment paper, repeat the process with the second half of the dough, and chill the wrapped rolls until very firm, 2 hours to overnight.  (The dough can also be further wrapped in plastic or a zip-top freezer bag and frozen up to a month.)

While the dough is resting, prepare and chill the ganache filling.  Place the chopped chocolate in a medium mixing bowl.  Combine the coconut milk, butter and salt in a liquid measuring cup and microwave just until simmering.  Pour the hot coconut milk over the chocolate and whisk until the chocolate is fully melted and the ganache is glossy, then whisk in the coconut rum.  Allow to cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the cookies.

Preheat oven to 325 F and line several baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.  Remove one roll from the refrigerator and, using a sharp knife, slice off rounds 1/8 inch thick, rotating the roll a quarter turn between slices to preserve its round shape.  Place cookies 2 inches apart on the baking sheets and bake until the coconut is golden and the bottoms of the cookies are just beginning to darken, 12-15 minutes.  Remove cookies to a wire rack to cool completely, and repeat with the second roll.

When the cookies have cooled and the ganache has firmed up, place 2 teaspoons of ganache on the bottom of one cookie and place a second cookie right-side up over the filling, gently pressing down just until the filling reaches the edges.  Repeat with remaining cookies.  If not serving immediately, store cookies in refrigerator for up to a week.  Leftover unfilled shortbread keeps very well in an airtight container at room temperature for several weeks.

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