Yotam Ottolenghi is my culinary hero, and I was lucky enough to work with him when Ottolenghi The Cookbook was published in America. I love that his career began on the pastry side of the kitchen whipping up his marvelous meringues, yet we got to know him as he took us on a culinary journey of vegetables, amazing flavors and spices with his cookbooks, Plenty and Jersrusalem. Now he’s sharings his baking roots and passion in Sweet, his new title devoted to the love of all things confection.
Since the cookbook arrived, I’ve been drooling at every page. however, the first recipe, a cookie sandwich with rhubarb buttercream, rocked my world since I’ve a fan of sandwich cookies. I love to eat them whole or savor by twisting them into two. Since I happened to have some diced fresh rhubarb in my freezer, this recipe was kismet.
I can always count on learning about a new ingredient with Ottolenghi’s recipes, (Zaatar and Sumac come to mind), and in this recipe, it’s custard powder. It isn’t dried custard; rather, it’s a corn starch element which I could have ordered some online but I was eager to make these cookies, and since the recipe indicated I could use corn starch as a replacement, and that’s what I opted to do.
Like any phenomenal sandwich cookie success lies in the filling. You want a filling that stands up to possibly being twisted apart and leaving some of the sweet stuff on each cookie. The velvety dollop of this rhubarb buttercream is spectacular in it’s pink glory and is easy to adjust if too loose. — slowly add more confectioner’s sugar until the consistency is thick, but spreadable. I made the icing a couple days prior and I found the longer it remained in the fridge, the better the flavor. I will say, one of the delightful elements of baking this cookie — the citrus scent emanating from the roasting rhubarb. The actual cookie is a thick dough but very workable. When baking the cookies will spread a bit but not enough to cause worry, and the textural element of pressing the back of a fork into each cookie is is a great visial.
Going further into Fall finding fresh rhubarb can be a bit difficult but I think a marvelous rosted lemon buttercream or to tie into the season, a cranberry buttercream would be incredible. Of course, a classic chocolate or vanilla icing would also work. While I don’t have kids, this is an ideal baking project to include them. Make several different buttercreams and have kids slather on the icing and sandwich away. I have the feeling this won’t be the last time you see these cookies making an appearance on my site, in fact, I’m sure they’ll be one of my holiday treats this year.
A Sandwich Cookie by another name -Yotam Ottolenghi's Custard Yo-Yos with Roasted Rhubarb Icing
- 1 small stalk rhubarb, trimmed, washed and cut into 1-inch lengths
- 4 1/2 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 1 cup, plus 2 tbs confectioner's sugar
- 1/2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 1/3 cups, plus 2 tbs all-purpose flour Plus 1 tbs for dusting
- 1/2 cup custard powder can use cornstarch
- 1/2 cup, plus 1 tbs confectioner's sugar
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 3/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature, cubed
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract use 1/2 tsp if using cornstarch
Preheat the oven to 350*. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper.
To make the rhubarb icing
Spread the rhubarb out on the lined baking sheet and roast for 30 minutes, or until softened. Remove for the oven and allow to cool before transferring to the small bowl of a food processor. Process to a puree, then add the butter. Sift in the confectioner's sugar, add the lemon juice and continue to process for a cpupe minutes; it seems like a long time, but you want it to thicken, which it will do as it's whipped. Transfer to a small bowl and chill in the fridge for a couple hours to firm up. (You don't want the icing to be at all run, so add a little more confectioner's sugar if necessary; it needs to hold when sandwiched between the cookies.)
To make the dough
Sift the flour, custard powder (or cornstarch), confectioner's sugar and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer with the paddle attachment in place. Beat on low speed to combine. Add the butter and continue to beat on low speed until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Add the vanilla extract, increase the speed to medium and beat for about 30 seconds, until the dough comes together.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Pinch off small bits of dough and use your hands to roll them into 1 1/8-inch round balls; you should have enough dough for 30 balls, about 1/2 oz each. Place them on the linked baking sheets, spaced apart. Dip the back prongs of a small fork in the remaining 1 tbs of flour before gently but firmly pressing down into the middle of each cookie. The balls will increase to about 1 1/3 inches wide, but don't press all the way to the bottom; you just want to create firm lines in the dough rather than force them to spread out.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the sheets halfway through, until the cookies are dry on the bottom but have not taken on too much color. They will be relatively fragile when warm but still firm to the touch. Set aside on the baking sheets to cool for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Sandwich pairs of cookies together with the icing, with the "forked" sides facing outward. You should use about 1/2 oz of icing in each cookie sandwich. It will seem like a lot, but trust us -- the cookies can take it.