Thursday, 16 October 2014

Milk cream cookies

Milk cream cookies

Like in many other fields, also in the Food and Beverage world there are products which, for some reasons, are so popular and loved to become somehow iconic - and consequently also imitated by many. Often their fame is supported by massive, highly effective marketing campaigns, but usually these products taste absolutely good (oh, yes) and have something original and unique.
While some of these products are "stars" at global level (think for example to Coca-Cola), the majority are recognized on a smaller scale, usually national, sometimes cross-national. This is the case of a cookie, super popular in Italy, whose name, Macine, the Italian word for "millstone", comes from their round shape with a small hole in the center, which reminds just that of a millstone.
Milk cream cookies
Launched in the '80s, these cookies still have a leadership position in the Italian market of baked goods, even if since then many other cookies have been created and many international brands have entered the Italian market with a wide range of cookies. And the imitations? For sure all retailer private labels have these cookies in their assortment, but also other brands have something similar (all with different names, of course). I remember that, as a kid, I loved them with a cup of milk, at breakfast, but also on their own at any time in the afternoon while doing my homework. If my "extended" family living in Italy is representative of an average Italian family, I understand why these cookies are still so popular: they are the favorite of my sister's eldest son who (I saw him directly last summer) can eat half packet each morning helped by his sister; and something similar happens in my husband's sister family where the ten years old boy prefers them as an afternoon snack; and the rest of the family usually helps too.
And they are very simple, no chocolate or other additions, no filling, no cream, just a friable texture and a delicate flavor. According to the label, their unique taste should come from the fresh milk cream used in the recipe. I trust, even the 2% cream claimed on the label is not that much! Anyway, since they are so simple, I wanted to make them at home: it's funny and gratifying to replicate industrial foods at home. And also I love home-made cookies: they always taste more "natural" than the store bought one, and are potentially healthier, of course if high quality ingredients are used: no artificial flavors, real butter, fresh milk and eggs, no preservatives (even when the label says that they do not contain any preservative, industrial foods always keep much longer than home-made, and this is still a mystery for me).
Going back the recipe, my sister passed it to me: since her family consumes big quantities of these cookies, as I have previously said, she has tried several recipes and this one is her favorite. Actually the taste and the texture are really close to the original (but milk cream used is more than 2%), I only have to perfect the technique for replicating the central hole (that should be slightly funnel-shaped), but it is a detail!
Even for people who do not know the original version, these cookies will be a pleasant discovery.
Milk cream cookies
Cream cookies
makes about 30 cookies
250 g or cake flour, or Italian flour 00 (alternatively 230 g all-purpose flour + 20 g corn starch)
75 g icing sugar
50 g butter
50 g corn germ oil (or peanut oil or other delicate vegetable oil)
1/2 egg
2 1/2 tablespoons cream
seeds of 1/2 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp pure vanilla extract)
6 g baking powder
1 pinch sea salt
In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, add the  butter and oil and warm up until butter is completely melted; stir to mix, let cool then transfer into the fridge until the mixture becomes creamy.Sift the flour in a mixing bowl, add the butter - oil mixture and stir with a spatula until you get a crumbly mixture. 
Milk cream cookies - making the dough

Add the sugar, sifted, baking powder, salt, vanilla seeds and egg, and mix just to roughly amalgamate; add the cream and mix the dough very rapidly just to obtain a homogeneous dough. The dough shouldn't be soft but it is pretty crumbly. Flatten a bit and let rest in the fridge, wrapped in plastic, for about one hour.
Line one or more baking sheets with parchment paper.
Place the dough between two sheets of baking paper and roll it out with a rolling pin to 7-8 mm thickness; cut cookies out of the rolled dough using a 5 cm round cookie cutter; with a smaller cutter (about 1 cm) take out a small circle from the center of each cookie. Eliminate the dough from around the cut cookies, then using a flat spatula transfer onto the prepared baking sheets (be careful otherwise the cookies will lose the round shape). Roll the remaining dough and cut out more cookies. 
Milk cream cookies - cutting cookies

Transfer the prepared cookies into the fridge for about 15 minutes. In the meantime preheat the oven to 170°C, fan mode.  Bake for about 15 minutes, until golden. Remove from the oven and, using a flat spatula, transfer to a wire rack until they are cool. They keep well in a airtight container up to one week.
Notes
·       The dough should be rolled thick, about 7 - 8 mm, otherwise the cookies will result to brittle and hard.
·       Do not under bake; cookies have to be golden and not soft when removed from the oven.


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