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gettin’ real

Recipe: homemade orange milano cookies

It snowed this weekend. It.Finally.Snowed. I don’t mean a dusting of white stuff either, because when I say snow I mean “skiable” snow. At first it came down in big fluffy flakes all day Friday.

at first kaweah didn’t notice

then it started to accumulate on her schnoz

sniffing the air – winter is here!

There were some strong winds blowing which sent most of the snow into the next county for a couple of days. But Sunday morning we woke to a familiar glow through our windows – the glow of freshly fallen snow covering everything. It was 8°F and completely calm. Magical conditions. The snow was feathery and dry. I’ve been waiting since September (okay, really since May) to feel the familiar glide of skis on snow under my feet. I am recharged.

perfect snow

ski touring our local mountains

Two summers ago, Jeremy and I were in Washington state to visit with good people and backpack in Olympic National Park. We enjoyed an amazing lunch at Sitka and Spruce with my friend, Lara Ferroni. She told us about a book she was working on – making all of those favorite snacky junk foods of our youth from scratch without all of the junk. I told her I would love to see a copy when she was finished.

my review copy arrived in the post a few months ago courtesy of sasquatch books

Lara’s book was a traipse through my childhood memories of Twinkies, Chocolate Cupcakes, Ding Dongs, Oreos, Doritos, Goldfish crackers, Hot Pockets, potato chips, tater tots, and so much more. She manages all of these with normal ingredients and without preservatives, artificial colorings, or artificial flavors. In addition to the healthier recipes for these snacks, she provides gluten-free, as well as vegan, versions. At the back of the book she includes recipes for some basic pantry staples like confectioner’s sugar, sweetened condensed milk, marshmallow crème, and even sprinkles! I let Jeremy choose the recipe to make, since he was going to be eating them. He went with the Chocolate and Orange Wafers (aka orange milanos).

flours, powdered sugar, chocolate, salt, baking powder, butter, eggs, cream, orange (zest), vanilla extract

zest and juice the orange

sift the flours, salt, and baking powder

Lara gives lots of options on ingredients like white whole wheat flour, spelt flour, ground millet, all-purpose flour, and cake flour. I went with what I had on hand at the time (all-purpose and cake flours) for the cookies, but there is a good deal of flexibility so you can experiment with healthier mixes.

beat the powdered sugar and butter together

adding egg whites

beating in the orange juice

add the dry mix, beating until just combined

Making the cookie dough is pretty straightforward. Once it is ready, place the dough in a pastry bag (with a plain #806 tip) and let it chill in the refrigerator for a few minutes. Piping the dough isn’t difficult, but getting the right shape consistently was a bit challenging at first and took me some practice runs (i.e. mess ups) before I got the hang of it.

a disposable pastry bag with pastry tip #806

set the bag in a tall glass and scoop the dough in

piping oblong fingers onto parchment-lined baking sheets

The cookies will spread and rise in the oven, so be sure to give them plenty of room to avoid unsightly collisions. While the cookies bake, you can make the chocolate ganache – basically chocolate, cream, and orange zest.

stir the chocolate and hot cream together

add the orange zest

The cookies are done when they turn golden at the edges. After the wafers have cooled on a cooling rack, I like to play a little game of matching them up so that you have similarly-sized pairs. I do that with my French macarons too, because I’m not a good enough pastry baker to get them all the same size. It gives the illusion that I know what I’m doing. Let the ganache cool to a spreadable, but not overly fluid consistency (this is temperature dependent). Use a knife to spread the chocolate filling over the flat side of a cookie and then sandwich the filling with the matching cookie.

different shapes and sizes – that bottom middle one was sacrificed for quality control

paired up

spread the love chocolate

Here’s the thing about these cookies compared to the store-bought variety – these aren’t exactly like the commercial versions because they taste so much better. The flavors are real. The texture is light and delicate, not hard and brittle. The quality is superior. Of course, the shelf life of this cookie is far far shorter than its Pepperidge Farm counterpart, but I’m fairly certain it won’t be around long enough to determine that shelf life.

looks the same, but tastes a million times better

Chocolate and Orange Wafers (Homemade Orange Milano Cookies)
[print recipe]
from Real Snacks by Lara Ferroni

1/2 cup (60 g) white whole-wheat flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) white spelt flour or all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (60 g) ground millet or cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
8 tbsps (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/2 cup (110 g) powdered sugar, sifted
2 large egg whites (about 66 g)
2 tsps vanilla extract
1/4 cup (2 oz.) orange juice (or use milk if making mint milanos)
1/4 cup (2 3/8 oz.) heavy cream
6 ounces semi-sweet or milk chocolate, chopped
1 orange, zest of (or use 2 drops of peppermint oil if making mint milanos)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sift the flours, baking powder, and salt together in a bowl and set aside. Place the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer and beat with the paddle attachment until smooth and creamy (give it 2 minutes). Beat in the egg whites for about a minute until light. Beat in the vanilla and orange juice. Pour the sifted flour mixture into the butter mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.

Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the cookie dough into a pastry bag fitted with a #806 plain tip and refrigerate for 5 minutes. Pipe 1/2-inch by 2-inch ovals onto the parchment, giving yourself at least an inch between each oval as the cookies will spread and rise in the oven. Bake 8-12 minutes or until just golden at the edges, rotating the baking sheets halfway (I forgot to do this). Mine took 12 minutes. Remove the cookies to a cooling rack. [Jen’s OCD step: match your cookies into pairs of similar size.]

To make the chocolate filling, heat the cream in a small saucepan over medium flame until it just starts to steam. Remove from heat and whisk the chocolate into the hot cream until smooth. Stir in the orange zest (or if you want mint milanos, stir in peppermint oil).

Spread 1/2 tablespoon of filling on the flat side of one cookie and then sandwich the chocolate with the flat side of another cookie. Repeat until done. Makes 16-20 cookies.

Wanna make these gluten-free? Lara suggests replacing the white whole-wheat and white spelt flours with an equal amount of gluten-free all-purpose baking mix.

Wanna make these vegan? Lara says to replace the butter with an equal amount of coconut oil; the egg whites with 1 teaspoon freshly ground chia or flaxseed mixed with 1/4 cup water; and the heavy cream with an equal amount of coconut cream.

29 nibbles at “gettin’ real”

  1. Rosa says:

    Lovely cookies! They must taste divine.



  2. Alicia says:

    They look delicious! I can’t wait to try out the recipe once finals are over! :)

  3. debbie says:

    Love these!!!! What a great book!

  4. Eva @ Eva Bakes says:

    Beautiful cookies! This book sounds amazing.

  5. Amanda says:

    Congrats on your snow! We’ve been wishing for some here, but we’re getting inches and inches of rain for now.

    I am extremely excited about this book! And these cookies will definitely be going on my Christmas cookie list this year. My labmates will be delighted!

  6. Rachel (teacher-chef) says:

    These look absolutely amazing and I am sure that my father (the local Milano Fiend) will love these. I also am really hoping that my last-minute e-mails to family about my need for this cookbook are answered!

  7. Sondra says:

    I am so making these!! I love your recipes. Are there any adjustments for altitude?

  8. Clarissa says:

    Oh my gosh, these were always my favorite growing up! I would eat the cookie dough part of each side first so there’d be a greater ratio of chocolate to cookie. Can’t wait to try these.

  9. Kajal - Aapplemint says:

    I have to make these ! Its your lovely , made to look so easy, picture guide thats tempting me :-)

  10. Lisa Mai @ Je suis alimentageuse says:

    Um that looks amazing. On another note, how the heck did you get that orange zest garnish to be so long and curly?! Mine either ends up being long and straight, or broken and curly. =(

  11. Eiko says:

    Aww kaweah…so adorable. Does that cookbook have a recipe for twinkles? I want to make some and send to my son in the military. Thanks for sharing your recipes, photos, and motivating me to cook!

  12. Sherry says:

    My mind is a bit boggled… You can make Doritos at home? Wow, I might have to get this book just so I can try that out.

  13. Kurt Jacobson says:

    What a concept. Healthier treats from my chilhood made at home, and compiled in a cool looking book. I had no idea the chocolate and orange wafers were piped from a pastry bag. Congrats on the snow. I worked at five of Colorado’s ski areas in my years there, and was a ski addict. I remember the feelings of joy from the first real snow each winter.

  14. Claire says:

    You have the best blog. All of your entries are consistent, orderly & superbly photographed. I love the blog layout, so easy on the eye, no clutter or crazy fonts. Plus you are a genius to put it mildly & your ability to focus on the baking task & photograph it at the same time is mind blowing. Reading your blog is like opening up a brand new, perfectly wrapped present each time. I love it all. Claire

  15. Katie | GoodLife Eats says:

    Ok. I am in serious trouble now. I should not have looked at this post! As a kid those were my favorite store bought cookies. Homemade is always better so it will be super fun to try this at home. And then give them all away so I don’t eat the whole batch myself.

  16. Brynnie says:

    Oh Kaweah… I lift my nose to the heavens to smell the first signs of winter too. She is completely adorbs. Keep the amazing photos and recipes coming! <3

  17. Dina says:

    they look better than the original!

  18. Joy says:

    I love love Milanos. Yours look perfect.

  19. Jenni says:

    I’m in the process of making these and I don’t see when the vanilla and orange juice are added?

  20. jenyu says:

    Jenni – thanks for catching that, I’ve edited the recipe.

  21. jenyu says:

    Sondra – I considered reducing the leavening, but when you are baking something small (like a cookie or a muffin) it’s supposed to set up quickly enough that you shouldn’t need to reduce leavening. That doesn’t mean it always works. This one seemed to behave pretty nicely though. So no changes for altitude (at least not for 8500 ft. asl).

    Kajal – this one is actually pretty easy to make! :)

    Lisa Mai – Ahhh, yes… I try to carve a piece with a zest peeler as long as possible. It takes me a few tries before I get it right. Then I wrap it around a chopstick or straw and leave it there for 15 minutes or however long it took me to finish the cookies.

    Eiko – yes! It has a recipe for Twinkies and many many other treats from the good old days :)

    Sherry – :)

    Kurt – thanks!

    Claire – you are making me blush! Thanks for the comment and your very sweet words xo

    Katie – you and Jeremy both! ;)

    Brynnie – thank you. Kaweah is a dopey funny girl.

  22. Chell says:

    This is my favorite cookie and I thought it was about time I made them homemade!
    Thank you for your receipt, I’m going to make them with my children this evening…

  23. Lidia says:

    I can’t wait to try these! I loooooove your blog! It is the reason I started cooking, and I absolutely love it now! Thank you! God bless :-)

  24. Becca Bakes » Homemade Milanos says:

    […] Homemade Milanos Adapted From: Use Real Butter […]

  25. Baba says:

    I would like to try these cookie cutter style. Wonder how to do it and if it would work. I want to make little animals. Thanks for any help with this. Can’t wait to try them.

  26. jenyu says:

    Baba – I think you may encounter some trouble making these with cookie cutters because the batter spreads when baked, but you can certainly give it your best shot!

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  29. John says:

    Pretty disappointing. First, the filling is too liquid — even in a not-very-warm kitchen, it didn’t firm up enough to avoid the two half-cookies sliding. And there was about twice as much as needed. I also found the batter a bit too “fluffy”, and the overall flavor not orang-y enough. I’d add about a half-teaspoon of orange extract to the batter if I were doing it again. On the good side, the overall structure flavor was pretty good, even if the orange *was* too muted. Finally, I think that saying that this is a make-at-home recipe, and then expecting that folks will have a stand-mixed and a pastry tube with a particular tip is maybe just a little disingenuous.

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