BAILEYS Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Fudgey, almost brownie-like cookies with flakey sea salt filled with espresso ganache and Baileys cream frosting.

Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies with Baileys cream and espresso ganache

St. Patrick’s Day is just around the corner.  This year, I am tapping into my (very) inner Irish side and making these BAILEYS Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies!  Creamy, chocolate-y, and extremely decadent – make sure you have a tall glass of milk near by.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

I’ve talked about my mixed heritage before and specifically about my maternal grandmother in this post. Her ancestors came from Puerto Rico before eventually settling down in part of the Arizona agricultural community where she was raised.  Just judging by her tanned skin, dark features, and wild curls, you probably wouldn’t guess that she is part Irish.  Before settling in Arizona, a brief stop in New York, and establishing roots in San Juan, my Puerto Rican ancestors were originally from Spain – Barcelona and Madrid, to be exact.  While in Europe, someone of Irish decent slipped into the mix when the roots of my family tree were being planted.  In the end, the members of this side of my family all look vastly different from each other.  Some have dark skin, some have red hair and blue eyes, and then there’s me with my incredibly pale skin, my father’s German features, and my grandmother’s curls.  It might just be me, but I find genealogy fascinating, especially when it means I get to indulge in these Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies in honour of my heritage.

I may be just a sliver Irish, but that won’t stop me from treating myself with these decadent cookies this St. Patrick’s Day.  Even if you aren’t Irish at all, you should still make these.  They are so good!

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies
Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Coffee and Baileys Irish cream have always gone hand in hand, and these cookies are no exception.  Ever indulge in one of those fancy after-dinner drinks with dark espresso, creamy Baileys, and mostly likely a tall swirl of whipped cream?  Well these cookies are kind of like that but in dessert form.  The cookies themselves are so deeply fudgey that they remind me of brownies.  I then stuffed them with a truffle center made from Baileys and espresso-infused ganache and a swirl of Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Each bite is more decadent than the next!  To balance out the richness, I sprinkled the cookies with my favourite flakey sea salt, but I bet dunking them in the above-mentioned coffee drink or a tall glass of milk would be equally satisfying.

Baileys Chocolate Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Baileys Brownie Truffle Sandwich Cookies

Chocolate Brownie Cookies
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
½ cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup brown sugar
3 large eggs, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (mini or regular)
flakey sea salt for sprinkling

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with parchment and set aside.

Place the chopped bittersweet chocolate in a saucepan over medium-high heat.  Heat the chocolate until it begins to melt.  Stir until smooth.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa, espresso powder, baking powder, and salt.  Set aside.

In a separate mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter and both sugars together until light and fluffy.  Beat in one egg at a time followed by the vanilla.  Stir in the melted, cooled chocolate until combined.

With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the dry ingredients until incorporated and the last of the flour streaks disappear.  Fold in the chocolate chips until combined.

Using a mechanical ice cream scoop or small disher, scoop the dough into uniform balls and place on the lined baking sheets 3-inches apart.  Each ball should be about 21/2 tablespoons.  Gently flatten the dough with the palm of your hand and sprinkle with a pinch of flakey sea salt.  Bake for 10 minutes and let rest on the baking sheet for 2 minutes before moving the baked cookies to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Repeat with the remaining dough.

 

Espresso Ganache
1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon coarsely ground espresso or coffee beans
4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 tablespoon Bailys Irish cream

Place the cream and espresso in a small saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring the cream to a simmer.  Remove from the heat and place in a heat-safe container (with the espresso beans).  Refrigerate for 2 hours or overnight (the longer the cream is infused, the stronger the espresso flavour).

When cool, strain out the ground beans with a fine mesh sieve or cheese cloth.  Place the infused cream back in the saucepan.  Over medium heat, gently bring to a simmer.

Meanwhile, place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl.  Once the cream comes to a simmer, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let stand for 30 to 60 seconds.  Add the Baileys Irish cream and whisk until smooth.  Allow the ganache to completely cool and thicken.  Once the ganache is spreadable, gently whisk by hand until slightly whipped and fluffy (do not overmix or the chocolate will appear grainy).

 

Baileys Irish Cream Frosting
½ cup unsalted butter, softened
2 cups confectioner’s sugar
2 tablespoons Baileys Irish cream
½ teaspoon vanilla

Using an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  With the mixer on low, gradually add in the remaining ingredients and mix until combined.  Once the sugar is incorporated, beat on medium-high for several minutes until the frosting is light and fluffy.

 

Assembly
Once the cookies have cooled and all of the components are made, pair off the cookies into sets of two.  Flip half of the cookies upside down.

Fill a piping bag fitted with a medium star tip with the Baileys Irish cream frosting.  Pipe a ring of frosting on half of the cookies.  Fill in each right with a tablespoon or so of ganache.  Top the frosting with the spare cookies and gently press together to form a cookie sandwich.

 

NOTES
If the cookie batter is too runny to scoop, let stand 5 to 10 minutes until it stiffens up slightly.

Ganache may be cooled in the refrigerator.  Stir every 5 minutes to keep an even consistency.  Ganache will take about 20 minutes to cool in the refrigerator.

 

This post was sponsored by BAILEYS.  The opinions are completely my own based on my experience. 

As always, please remember to drink responsibly.

Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Gold splattered French macarons filled with punchy pink peppercorn buttercream and luscious bittersweet chocolate ganache.  Perfect for this Valentine's Day!

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

In an effort to keep things unpredictable, “spontaneous,” spicy, and always some-what stressful, my husband and I typically make plans to cook from home on Valentine’s Day.  I say this jokingly, because every time we’ve done so in the past, there has been an unexpected “twist” to our perfect night in.  If you are looking for ways to keep the romance alive in your own marriage, try frantically Google-ing how to quickly thaw out an unexpectedly frozen chicken while tending to a 4-week old and trying to battle the impending gloom of a 10pm dinner while the risotto gets mushier by the minutes.

Or don’t – you probably shouldn’t, actually.  It’s up to you. 

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

This year, Valentine’s Day happens to fall on a Tuesday following a three-day weekend (here in British Columbia).  The chances of me wanting to throw together a super-fancy dinner over the weekend are high.  I’ll probably spend the next week in search of new recipes to try and make endless lists for groceries and prep work.  At the end of the day, I actually live for this stuff.  I love to cook and researching recipes is actually one of my favorite rituals to do in between putting the toddler to bed, taking the dog out, and getting ready for bed each night.

The problem is more of a matter of ambition.  I always want to try out something new.  And while I am huge supporter of pushing your own boundaries and trying new things, I tend to wait until the steaks are high – like trying to pull-off a 5-course meal (with hardly any prep work completed) on Valentine’s Day.  In such times, the only recipe I can really count on is the recipe for disaster: high stress + new recipes + unpreparedness.  Don’t be like me.

Earlier on in my career, making French macarons would have fit the bill perfectly.  In fact, I did try to pull-off heart-shaped macarons for Valentine’s Day the same year 85% of our kitchen was in boxes just days before the big move from California to Canada.  Not only did macarons still give me tremendous trouble at the time, everything else that was going on around created the perfect storm for disaster.

But back to this year and why I am rediscovering the macaron.  Instead of being overly ambitious with my meal prep or trying a new fancy recipe for the first time on a holiday, I plan to use tried and trusted recipes but with a special twist.  A favorite dish but with a new flavour variation or something with a simple preparations but made with heart and high-quality, seasonal ingredients.  I’m not sure what this means yet as far as an entrée for us this year, but for dessert – these Pink Peppercorn Ganache Macarons.  At this point, macarons aren’t nearly as stressful for me to make and I no longer see them as these fancy, unattainable pastries.  Yet, they do take time, practice, and preparation, so I don’t make them very often.  With that said, combined with this blushing pink and chocolately filling, they fit my new criteria for a special yet not overly fussy Valentine’s Day dessert.

 

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Pink peppercorn in a dessert??!  If you recall this cake from back in the day, or the version that I recreated for my book Layered, then you know I love how the slightly peppery and faintly fruity flavors pair with sweets.  In a dessert, especially this buttercream, the crushed pink peppercorns pack an unexpected punch – but don’t worry, it’s not like biting into a pepper or anything.  The spice in a pink peppercorn is delicate and much more rounded (as opposed to sharp flavours of black pepper).

For me, the crushed pink peppercorns off-set the sweetness of the buttercream perfectly and the rich, fudgey centers make for the most divine bite(s).  I love how decadent bittersweet chocolate ganache can be, but feel free to use a semi-sweet variety if you are in search of something a bit lighter.  Valrhona Chocolate was gracious enough to send me a variety of their best chocolate feves to test out.  In this particular recipe, I favoured their 70% Guanaja chocolate, but if that sounds too rich to you, then go for the 63% Illanka chocolate.  Both are amazing!  A post about the wonders of Valrhona Chocolate would not be complete without mention of their Dulcey feves.  I’m not a huge white chocolate fan, but this blonde chocolate just might be heaven on earth.  Next time, I am definitely saving some plain macaron shells to fill with mounds of the caramelized white chocolate ganache goodness.

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate
Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

And last but not least – GOLD SPLATTER!  Because macarons shells can be quite finicky, I don’t like to add too much to the shell batter before baking.  Beyond some vanilla bean and/or a few drops of food coloring, I try to stay clear of too many additional ingredients that might disrupt the bake.  I’ve tried freeze-dried fruit powders and sprinkles, but they tend to yield inferior macarons (in my personal opinion).  A fun and easy way to dress up baked macarons shells is to add a little shimmer by way of gold splatter!  I have several little jars of gold luster dust leftover from my wedding cake making days, so I am always on the hunt for ways to incorporate the metallic powder into my desserts today.  As you could imagine, macaron shells hate water.  But mixed with a touch of vanilla extract or even vodka, gold luster dust turns into beautiful gold paint.  For the splatter effect, simply add just enough liquid to the luster dust so that it becomes slightly liquidy and not pasty.  Dip a clean brush into the mixer and use your finger to flick the bristles over the top of the macarons.  I love the imperfect, organic nature of this decorating technique – don’t you?

Pink Peppercorn and Ganache Valentine Macarons with Valrhona Chocolate

Pink Peppercorn Macarons
For the shells, I used this macaron recipe here.

Pink Peppercorn Buttercream
3 large egg whites
1 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups unsalted butter, softened
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 to 2 teaspoons pink peppercorns, or to taste
2 to 3 drops pink food gel, optional

In the bowl of an electric mixer, lightly whisk together the egg whites and sugar.  Fill a saucepan with a few inches of water and bring to a simmer.  Place the mixer bowl on top of the saucepan to create a double-boiler.

Stirring intermittently, heat the egg white mixture until it registers about 155-160 on a candy thermometer.  Once hot, carefully transfer the mixer bowl back to the stand mixer.

Using the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites until stiff peaks, or until the outside of the mixer bowl returns to room temperature (about 8 minutes).  Stop the mixer and swap the whisk for the paddle attachment.

Meanwhile, crush the peppercorns using a mortar and pestal.

With the mixer on medium-low, add in the butter, a few tablespoons at a time.  Add in the vanilla. Turn the mixer up to medium-high and mix until silky smooth.  Add the crushed pink peppercorns and food coloring until desired taste and color is achieved.

At any point does the buttercream appear curdled, just keep mixing.  If the buttercream appears soupy, try placing it in the refrigerator for about 10 to 15 minutes then mixing again.


Chocolate Ganache
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate (by weight), chopped
¼ cup (60 ml) heavy cream
pinch salt

Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside.

Place the cream in a saucepan and slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat.  Once hot, pour the cream over the chocolate.  Let stand 30 to 60 minutes, then whisk until smooth.  Add a pinch of salt and combine.

Allow the ganache to completely cool.  It will thicken over time.  Cooling may be sped up in the refrigerator, but be sure to stir every 5 minutes or so.  Remove from the refrigerator and use once the ganache has thickened and can be piped from a piping bag (about 20 minutes).


Assembly
Once the macarons shells are baked, let rest for a couple minutes out of the oven before removing the shells off of the hot baking sheets (wait until they are just cool enough to handle and don’t break apart).  Once cooled, match the shells together into pairs of the same size.

Fit two piping bags with medium round tips – around #8 or so (or just snip them with scissors to create smallish openings).  Fill the bags with the buttercream and cooled ganached.

Pipe rings of the buttercream around the edges of the bottom macarons shells.  Fill the centers with the ganache.  Place on the top shell and gently press together so that the buttercream goes to the edges of the cookies but does not spill out.  Place the filled shells on your work surface and splatter with the gold luster “paint.” 
 

Notes
The gold splatter can be slightly bitter, so don't get too carried away.
I always use Bob's Red Mill almond flour – It's the best!!  However, I failed to sift all of the flour before making this particular batch.  Don't be like me.  Sift, sift, sift!

 

Thank you to Valrhona Chocolate for supporting Style Sweet CA!

 

Classic Chocolate Tart

A silky ganache encased in a tender crust and topped with the ripest of summer berries.  Sink your fork (or teeth!) into this luscious chocolate filling and feel the "snap" of the buttery crust.  Forever a classic and always a great choice.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

While some recipes are filled with sprinkles and slathered with cookie frosting, other pastries only call for the purest of ingredients and simple, yet exquisite flavors.  I’m talking about this classic chocolate tart.  I’m talking about a crisp, buttery pate sablee crust filled with luscious chocolate ganache.  No drippy caramel or yogurt-covered diamonds needed.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries
Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

I spend a lot of my energy thinking about and baking up sky-high layer cakes.  I’m always trying to re-invent traditional recipes and introduce new flavors in the most dramatic, show-stopping ways.  But somedays I dream of classic French pastry.  I find myself escaping the scene of scattered toys around the living room, the piles of dishes/laundry/mail/etc, and all the other chaos that comes with having an active toddler by dreaming of kaleidoscope-like fruit tarts, jewel-toned macarons, meticulously layered entremets, and the purest of tartes aux chocolat.

When working with something as pure and unadulterated as the ganache in this tart, ingredients matter.  Splurging on high-quality chocolate that is going to be baked into a cake and potentially overshadowed and diluted by mounds of fudge frosting might seem frivolous, but when the chocolate accounts for 50% of the ingredients, it is not senseless but imperative.  When I opened the box of Valhrona chocolate that arrived at my doorstep it was like opening a box of gold.  I tend to hoard my good chocolates, saving them for special occasions and superior recipes.  So when I was trying to decide what to make first with my new haul, I knew it would be something that really made the flavours of the chocolate shine.

Classic Chocolate Tart with buttery crust, raspberries, and strawberries

The ganache in this tart is no doubt the star of the show.  I love a nice butter crust and fresh summer berries, but let’s get real.  This tart is all about that silky chocolate filling.  And rightfully so!  I decided to combine Valhrona's 70% dark chocolate and dreamy 36% Caramelia to make this smooth, luscious, slightly creamy semi-sweet filling.  Pair it with the a sandy, tender shortcrust and the ripest of summer berries and you are golden!  The perfect treat for anything from Tuesday afternoon coffee break to a fanciful dinner party.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.
Chocolate Tart with butter crust and berries.

Instead of a flakey crust made with cold butter, I prefer the more cookie-like crust of a pate sablee.  Made with softened butter and confectioner’s sugar, this type of pastry is similar to shortbread cookies instead of a typical pie crust.  I find that not only is it easier and much more forgiving to make, the crisp base is the perfect texture to contrast the silky ganache.  I love how my fork sinks through the ganache and “snaps” into the crust.  You can read more about my love for this shortcrust pasty from The Kitchn’s Baking School last fall.

Chocolate Tart with buttery crust and berries.

Classic Chocolate Tart

For the Crust
1/2 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 large egg yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 to 2 tablespoons cream, as needed

For the Ganache
2/3 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3.5 ounces 35% Caramelia or milk chocolate
6 ounces dark chocolate

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat the butter until smooth.  Add in the confectioner’s sugar and mix until creamy.  Beat in the egg yolk.  Once combined, stop the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.

With the mixer on low, add in the flour and salt.  Mix only until the last streaks of flour start to disappear.  Do not overmix.  When done, the dough should hold when pressed together.  If it is too dry, add in the cream as needed.

Turn out the down on top of a piece of plastic wrap.  Gather the dough and press it into a disk.  Wrap and chill for at least 1 hour.

When ready to roll, allow the dough to rest at room temperature until some-what pliable, about 10 minutes.  Roll between two pieces of parchment paper until 10 to 12 inched in diameter. 

Remove the top layer of parchment and carefully invert the dough into an 8 or 9-inch tart pan. Remove the other piece of parchment then lift and fit the dough into the corners of the pan.  Trim the edges by running a paring knife around the top edge of the pan.  Fill in any holes with the scraps as needed.  Wrap loosely in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Once the crust has chilled, line the bottom and sides with a piece of foil and fill with pie weights or dry beans.  Place the tart shell on a baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes.  After it has partially baked, remove the tart and baking sheet from the oven.  Carefully remove the foil and pie weights.

Return the tart crust to the oven and continue to bake until slightly golden, about 5 to 10 more minutes.  Completely cool on a wire wrack before filling.

While the tart shell is cooling, make the filling.  Place the chocolate in a heat-safe bowl and set aside. 

Place the cream and butter in a saucepan over medium heat and slowly bring to a simmer.  Once hot, pour the cream mixture over the chocolate.  Let stand for one minute, then whisk to combine.

Pour the ganache filling into the cooled tart shell.  Allow to set at room temperature for at least 4 hours or overnight.  Decorate with fresh berries before serving. 

Store leftover loosely covered in plastic in the refrigerator.