Milanos are strangely flavorless, mostly a symphony of texture. I don't use any vanilla in mine, but if you'd like to take yours up a notch, I've included an optional measurement for vanilla or extracts.
Piping these is a bit of a trick. A real Milano is smaller and thinner than you'd think. To pipe these sufficiently thin, you'll essentially want to use the pastry bag to just smear the dough out in a controlled fashion. It takes a bit of practice to get it right, but if you remember to hold the piping tip just barely above the sheet pan (about an eighth of an inch) you won't have much trouble. To finish, lift the piping tip straight up and leave a peak of dough behind. It will settle down a bit as it bakes and give the Milanos their distinctive shape.
To make mint or orange Milanos, just substitute the extract of choice for the vanilla in the ganache.
Note: All measurements are in weights, as volume measures can be very imprecise. I strongly recommend using a scale for all pastry projects. Serious Eats' recommends these kitchen scales.
- For the Cookie Batter:
- 3/4 ounce cornstarch
- 8 ounces flour
- 4 ounces butter
- 3 1/2 ounces sugar
- 2 ounces corn syrup
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 ounce powdered milk
- 1 egg
- 2 egg whites
- Optional: 1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or a teaspoon of any extract
- For the Ganache Filling:
- 4 ounces dark or milk chocolate
- 2 ounces cream, a pinch more if necessary
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or other flavor of your choice)
- a pinch of salt
For the Cookie Batter: Preheat oven to 300°F (150°C) and line two cookie sheets with parchment and set aside. Use a sieve to sift cornstarch and flour together. With a hand or stand mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment), cream together butter, sugar, corn syrup, baking soda, salt, powdered milk and flavorings (if using). Cream for about 5 minutes on medium speed, until light and fluffy. About halfway through the mixing, scrape the bowl down with a rubber spatula.
After 5 minutes, with the mixer still running, add whole egg and mix until fully incorporated. Turn the mixer to low and add in half the starch/flour mixture. After it has incorporated, add one egg white. Repeat with 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-inch plain tip.
To pipe and bake the cookies: Pipe a smidgen of cookie dough onto all four corners of both sheets of parchment. Then flip the parchment over so the doughy corners are directly touching the cookie sheet. Use your fingers to smooth the parchment down. Now the parchment is "glued" to the cookie sheet and won't slide around while you pipe.
Aim to pipe cookies 30 to a tray, in five rows of six. Pipe cookies a little more than a half inch wide and 2-inch long. To pipe, hold the pastry bag so that the tip is perpendicular to the tray and only about an 1/8-inch from the surface. Really, you are aiming to smear dough out rather than pipe it out.
Squeeze the bag to begin piping and as soon as dough has hit the surface of the tray, immediately drag the tip two inches to the right (left if you are left handed). Stop piping and bring the tip back slightly toward the center of the cookie. Lift the tip straight up. This will give each cookie an oval shape with a roughly barbell like swelling at each end, and a peak of dough at one end.
Of course, you can pipe the cookies into any shape you like. Just take care that they are all roughly the same size so they will sandwich together nicely.
If you're a perfectionist and unhappy with your piping job, you can use a rubber spatula to scrape the dough back up and into the bag. Give yourself a fresh sheet of parchment and start again.
Bake for 25 minutes, rotating the trays halfway through, or until cookies have just taken on the slightest golden color around the edges but are otherwise quite anemic. If you notice cookies beginning to brown early, your oven may be running a little hot and your cookies will finish sooner.
Remove cookies from oven and set aside, still on the cookie sheets, until thoroughly cooled.
For the Ganache: In a very small pot, bring cream to a simmer. Shut off heat and add chocolate, vanilla (or other flavor), and salt. Use a whisk to stir gently, until chocolate melts. Whisk more vigorously to bring ganache together.
If mixture seems slightly curdled or lumpy, drizzle in a little extra cream, one tablespoonful at a time. Whisk all the while, until ganache is smooth.
Use a spatula to transfer ganache to a piping bag fit with a 1/4-inch plain tip.
To fill and finish the cookies: Begin matching up cookies into pairs that fit, bottom to bottom, together nicely. Don't worry if they don't match up closely, you just want to 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-inch 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 to push ganache out until its flush with the edges.
Repeat until all cookies have been sandwiched. Place cookies in fridge and chill for 10 minutes. Once cookies have chilled, transfer them to an airtight container, placing a sheet of parchment paper between layers.
Store at room temperature for one week, or two weeks refrigerated.
2 piping bags, 1/2-inch plain tip, 1/4-inch plain tip