Thursday, February 5, 2015

Chocolate Heart Cookies with White Chocolate Orange Ganache Filling

Valentine’s Day, the holy grail of Hallmark holidays, is almost upon us. I'm basically a total cynic when it comes to the whole declaration-of-love-through-chocolate-and-flowers thing, and the thought of going out to a restaurant on the night of February 14 sends shivers down my spine (and not in a good way). I favor saying “I love you” 

in smaller, less conspicuous ways throughout the entire year. Baking cookies for my husband is one such way; he is easily pleased and always appreciates the time and effort put into my home-spun sweets. This heart-shaped chocolate sandwich cookie is an ideal way to convey romantic thoughts on Valentine’s Day or any other day of 

the year. The tender chocolate butter cookie sandwiches a delicate orange flavored white chocolate ganache; it’s a good match – the cookie part is not overly sweet, and the white chocolate ganache balances its deep cocoa flavor perfectly. If you’re not in love, that’s ok, too (not that you care what I think!). Bake a batch for yourself, and eat them all in one sitting while watching Wuthering Heights or Waterloo Bridge (two of my favorite old romances) on Netflix. Now that’s my idea of a good Valentine’s Day!
(Click "Read More" below for recipe.)
Chocolate Heart Cookies with White Chocolate Orange Ganache Filling

Makes 20 sandwich cookies

Chocolate Cookies:
1 cup (132 g) all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon salt
11 tablespoons (155 g) unsalted butter, cut into tablespoons
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons (125 g) granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon (4 g) vanilla extract
½ cup (53 g) alkalized cocoa powder

White Chocolate Orange Ganache Filling:
8 ounces (227 g) white chocolate, chopped
½ cup (116 g) heavy cream
½ tablespoon (7 g) unsalted butter, softened
2 tablespoons (30 g) fresh squeezed orange juice
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
½ teaspoon finely grated orange zest

Make the cookies:
1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and salt. Set aside.
2. In the bowl of an electric mixer, using the paddle attachment, beat the butter at medium speed until creamy, about 30 seconds. Gradually add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Reduce the speed to low and add the egg, mixing well and scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix in the vanilla extract. Gradually add the cocoa powder, mixing until blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the flour mixture in three additions, mixing just until blended. Scrape the dough out onto a work surface and divide it in two. Shape each piece into a disc, wrap in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 2 hours, until firm.
3. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325°F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
4. Place one of the dough discs on a very lightly floured work surface. Sprinkle it lightly with flour and, using a rolling pin, roll in out to a thickness of 3/16 inch. Using a 2-inch heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out as many rounds as possible and arrange them, 1/2 inch apart, on the prepared baking sheets. Gather up the scraps, re-roll them, and cut out more hearts. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, for 7 to 9 minutes, until they no longer look wet (the cookies should still be soft to the touch; do not over-bake). Transfer the cookies to a wire rack and cool completely.

Make the ganache filling:
5. Place the white chocolate in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until small pieces form (do not overprocess or the chocolate will get hot and begin to melt). Transfer the chocolate to a medium bowl.
6. Place the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Pour the hot cream over the chocolate, shaking the bowl so that all the chocolate is covered. Allow to stand for 1 minute to allow the chocolate to melt. Whisk until smooth. Add the softened butter and whisk until combined. Whisk in the orange juice, vanilla and orange zest. Cover the surface of the ganache with a piece of plastic wrap and refrigerate the ganache for 2 to 3 hours, or until it is firm enough to spread or pipe.

Fill the cookies:
7. Spoon about 3/4 teaspoon of the ganache in the center of the underside of half of the cookies. Top with another cookie, keeping the top side facing out, and pressing the cookies together lightly until the filling spreads evenly to about 1/16 inch from the edge. Repeat with the remaining cookies and filling. Serve immediately or refrigerate. Bring to room temperature before serving.