Milanos · GF (30 small sandwich cookies)
I never particularly cared for the real Milanos, they have a strangely flavorless quality, and I make no bones about my dislike of them. But they are a symphony of texture and a great addition to any cookie plate for that reason alone, especially if you choose to jazz up the filling.
To keep your Milanos simple, tender and buttery, skip the fancy flavors. But if you think they could stand a little more omph, try a splash of orange or mint.
By all means, use honey or maple syrup in place of corn syrup, just bear in mind they may add flavor notes that won’t jive with the extracts you choose (maple mint sounds especially egregious to me…).
3/4 ounce cornstarch
8 ounces flour (use white rice flour for gluten free)
4 ounces butter
3 1/2 ounces sugar
2 ounces corn syrup (homemade is fine)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 ounce powdered milk
2 egg whites
Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or a teaspoon or your favorite extract; use mint sparingly, it gets toothpastey fast
4 ounces dark or milk chocolate
2 ounces cream, a pinch more if necessary
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavor of your choice; 1/2 tsp for mint)
a pinch of salt
Preheat your oven to 300° and line two cookie sheets with parchment.
Sift the cornstarch and flour together and set aside.
Cream together the butter, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda, salt, powdered milk and any extracts for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. About halfway through the mixing, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula. Then, with the mixer still running, add the whole egg and mix until fully incorporated.
With the mixer on low, add in half the starch/flour mixture. After it has incorporated, add one egg white. Repeat with the remaining flour and egg white. Continue mixing until homogenous; shut off the mixer.
Use a rubber spatula to transfer the batter to a piping bag, fitted with a 1/2” plain tip.
If you haven’t wrangled a pastry bag into submission before (or if you have and found it frustrating), these 12 tips for using a pastry bag will make the process mess and stress free.
Pipe a bit of dough onto all four corners of both sheets of parchment. Flip the parchment and press down gently to “glue” the corners down. Now the parchment won’t slide around as you pipe.
Aim to pipe the cookies about 30 to a tray, each little more than a half inch wide and 2” long. To pipe, hold the pastry bag so that the tip is perpendicular to the tray and only about an 1/8” from the surface. Really, you are aiming to smear the dough out rather than pipe it out.
A little extra info on piping the perfect Milano
If you just take this batter and pipe it out, your cookies will bake up way too thick. The trick keeping them thin is to essentially use the pastry bag to just smear the dough out. To do this, hold the piping tip just barely above the sheet pan (just an eighth of an inch), apply just a little pressure to the bag, and smear the dough into a 2” piece. To finish, stop squeezing and lift the piping tip straight up to leave a peak of dough behind. It will settle down a bit as it bakes and give the Milanos their distinctive shape.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, or until the cookies have just taken on the slightest golden color around the edges but are otherwise quite anemic. If you notice the cookies beginning to brown early, your oven may be running a little hot and your cookies will finish sooner.
Remove the cookies from the oven and set aside, still on the cookie sheets, until thoroughly cooled.
Meanwhile, make the ganache. In a very small pot, bring the cream to a simmer. Shut off the heat and add the chocolate, vanilla (or other flavor) and salt. Use a whisk to stir gently, until the chocolate melts and the ganache is smooth.
If the mixture seems slightly curdled or lumpy, drizzle in a little extra cream, one Tablespoonful at a time, whisking all the while.
Use a spatula to transfer the ganache to a piping bag fit with a 1/4” plain tip.
Finishing the Milanos
Begin matching up the cookies into pairs that fit together nicely. Don’t worry if they don’t match up perfectly, just make sure you pair the biggest cookie and the smallest cookies together so there’s no huge discrepancy between pairs.
Arrange half of the cookies bottoms up, with their mate sitting right beside, bottoms down.
Pipe a 1” strip of ganache down the center of each bottoms-up cookie (stopping a little shy of each end). Top each ganache covered cookie with its mate, using your fingers to gently press the cookies together and push the ganache flush with the edges.
Refrigerate the finished sandwich cookies for 10 minutes to set the ganache. Then, transfer them to an airtight container.
So far, these cookies keep better than any other I’ve ever made. Refrigerated, they’ll stay crisp and delicious for over a month. At room temperature, they’ll last for several weeks.
Dec 19, 2011 · 10:47 PM
I always hated PF Milanos, too. I’m sure these are infinitely better.
· Michelle · gourmandistan.com
Dec 20, 2011 · 11:06 AM
@Michelle, haha, the plain versions are no better or worse than the real deal, I was trying to capture them as closely as possible. But with a little vanilla bean and orange, however, you can suddenly find yourself a world away…
Dec 21, 2011 · 10:21 AM
these look awseome, i actually like the mint milanos in all their fake glory…can’t say i remember the last time i had them given that i can’t pronounce half of whats on the label (and i refuse to eat that which i can’t pronounce) but these look good!
· Lauren · www.bytes-from-texas.blogspot.com
Dec 22, 2011 · 3:18 PM
@Lauren, you know, I’ve never had the mint version, but I bet I would have liked those much better. My big gripe against Milanos is that they just never seemed to have much flavor, only texture. Mint would be delicious, especially homemade!
Mar 03, 2012 · 6:04 PM
@Patte, you got it; the corn syrup is by weight. It’s really easy to pipe them too thickly (you really want to just smear the batter more than pipe it), in which case they’d need extra baking time to dry out. Glad you enjoyed them!
Oct 04, 2012 · 9:10 PM
I’ve made milanos from another recipe before and they fell flat. Yours look just right in thickness. Is there any substitution for the powdered milk? Don’t really want to buy it to only use 1/4 ounce.
· Marcy · prochaskas.wordpress.com
Oct 05, 2012 · 9:03 AM
Hi Marcy. The powdered milk helps to thicken the batter and add a richer, milk flavor. I know it seems annoying to buy for such a small amount, but you should be able to buy small box or envelope at the store for just a dollar or two. Usually in the baking aisle or with the Ovaltine/hot cocoa mix. Powdered milk lasts forever and is a wonderful ingredient to have on hand, hopefully you will find some other uses for it! (It’s great in ice cream!)
Oct 05, 2012 · 11:03 PM
I figured that it had some contribution to the thickness — good to know you can get it in relatively small amounts. Thanks!
· Marcy · prochaskas.wordpress.com
Oct 07, 2012 · 12:11 PM
Hi Marcy. Yeah, and it’s also super cheap (it’s a common item to buy with food stamps) and there’s no reason to go for name brand if you can find a store brand. It’s all FDA regulated, so there’s no real difference but cost.
Jan 17, 2014 · 1:56 PM
Hi Tricia! I’d start with 1/4 teaspoon, then taste the batter to see if you’d like a stronger flavor.