Cocoa-Mint Sandwich Cookies


White chocolate-mint mousse:
1/2 cup loosely packed mint leaves (about 1/2 of 2/3-ounce pack, stems removed and discarded), coarsely chopped
1 cup heavy cream, divided
6 ounces white chocolate, finely chopped

Cocoa wafers:
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon mint extract
1/2 cup unsweetened alkalized cocoa powder
2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
About 2-4 tablespoons granulated sugar, for sprinkling on cookie tops
About 4 ounces semisweet chocolate, melted

1. Make mousse: Place mint leaves and 1/2 cup cream in stainless steel saucepan.  Bring mixture to scalding point over medium heat. Turn off heat. Allow mint to steep in warm cream mixture about 30 minutes.

2. Using fine-mesh stainless steel sieve, strain cream mixture into another clean stainless steel saucepan to remove mint. Press any excess fluid from mint through sieve.

3. Add chopped white chocolate to cream and place pan over low heat. Stir constantly just until chocolate is melted and mixture is very smooth. Transfer mixture to medium bowl. Cover surface flush with plastic, and allow mixture to cool to room temperature, about 30-40 minutes.

4. Using an electric mixer fitted with whip attachment, whip remaining 1/2 cup cream to stiff peaks. Fold into chocolate mixture. Chill mousse for about 3-4 hours, or until thick and creamy.

5. Make cookies: Place butter and 1/2 cup sugar in bowl of electric mixer fitted with paddle attachment. Cream mixture until well blended, about 1-2 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Scrape down sides of bowl as needed. Continue to beat at high speed until light and fluffy, another 2-3 minutes.  Stir in mint extract.

6. Stir cocoa powder and flour together in medium bowl.

7. Combine cocoa mixture with butter mixture, stirring just until evenly blended.

8. Shape dough into 2 disks and wrap each tightly with plastic. Chill for at least 4 hours, or until dough is firm to touch.

9. Meanwhile, place rack in center of oven and preheat oven to 350ºF. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment and set aside.

10. On lightly floured work surface, roll out half of dough to about 1/8" thickness.  Cut with 11/2" fluted round cookie cutter and transfer rounds to prepared cookie sheet. Using 1/2" heart-shaped aspic cutter, cut a window in half of the cookies. These will become sandwich tops. Sprinkle cookies evenly with granulated sugar. Bake for about 12-14 minutes, or until cookies are firm. Remove immediately to racks to cool. Repeat with second half of dough.

11. Allow cookies to cool completely. Using a small knife, spread thin layer of melted semisweet chocolate on backside of each window-less cookie. Let chocolate set.

12. Assemble sandwiches: Fit pastry bag with medium, plain tip (such as Ateco #5), and fill bag halfway with mousse. Pipe small amount of mousse on top of set chocolate. Place cookie with window, right side-up, on top of mousse. Press gently to squeeze mousse to edges

Note: Unfilled cookies may be stored up to a week at room temperature in airtight containers. Filled sandwiches should be refrigerated. Sandwiches are best served within 24 hours.

This recipe developed by Julia M. Usher