Does anyone remember classic Nabisco Devil’s Food Cookies? When I was a little girl, they were these square, puffy little cookie-cakes, dipped in a thin layer of marshmallow, then enrobed in a fudgy chocolate coating. My dad used to really love them, and he would always hide them from my sisters and me, because otherwise, we (i.e. I) would gobble all of them right up! I don’t begrudge him at all for hiding his favorite cookies, because then when he would share them, they were all the better for being that special treat that we didn’t normally get. Now, I’m the one hiding my favorite cookies away (usually double chocolate Milanos from Pepperidge Farm), but I haven’t had a classic devil’s food cookie since I was little.
Today, of course, Snackwell’s makes a version of these cookies, and they’re “healthy.” It’s true enough that Snackwell’s is in fact a Nabisco company, so technically the cookies are still made by them, but there really isn’t much of a comparison. The original, fatty, sugar laden ones were so much better than the fat free, mediocre cookies available now. Then again, my childhood memories could be a little rose tinted, but either way, I figured what better time to have devil’s food cookies than on Friday the Thirteenth?!
Making these was a (quite easy) labor of love. Often, when I’m baking something new or decorating a cake, I think of my dad and wonder what he’d think of my baking and decorating. He passed away when I was 17 years old, so he never got to see that his love for cooking took root in me and blossomed into a passion that fills me with joy (and sweets). In the case of these cookies, there is no wondering…I know exactly how he’d feel and what he would think of these little babies. This time, there wouldn’t be any need for hiding and rationing them out. I’d make them as often as he liked and we’d have feasts of fudgy, marshmallow-y cookies and ice cold milk until we were stuffed and nodding off in sugar comas (I can’t read that sentence without breaking out in a slightly teary, but joyful, smile). And since they’re shockingly easy to make, it wouldn’t be a chore.
P.S. I’ve included dairy free substitutions for my vegan and non-dairy friends!
Alright, I knew that to get these right, the cookies had to be cake-like in consistency, but not too thin and wide. I decided to go with a whoopie pie type of recipe, but I bulked it up a bit with a little extra egg and a tad more flour. It also had to be a devil’s food, so I borrowed and stole from my favorite devil’s food cake recipe and added to my favorite whoopie pie recipe. In the end, the ingredients consisted of brown sugar, all-purpose flour, cocoa powder, buttermilk, unsalted butter, eggs, salt, baking soda, and vanilla extract.
I tested various amounts of batter on the sheets to determine the best size for the cookies. To be honest, my favorite was 2 teaspoons of batter, but because using one tablespoon is easier, that’s the route I followed (a tablespoon is equal to three teaspoons, so the end result was only slightly bigger). These must be baked on parchment paper or Silpat mats…unless you want to grease and flour your cookie sheets between each batch. I was able to fit eight (one tablespoon) scoops of batter perfectly on the sheet, placing three down each of the long sides with two more in a center row. The cookies spread a little and baked up nicely, leaving an inch or two between each one, with none of them running together.
Once the cookies were completely cooled, I swirled a marshmallow filling (recipe below) on top of each one using a decorating bag with a hole snipped in the end (a zip top bag works perfectly too). Ideally, I would have like to have completely dipped the cookies in the marshmallow, but it would have been incredibly messy and annoying, so instead I just put a generous amount on the tops. It worked out perfectly, and they look pretty too.
After chilling the cookies for 30 minutes to firm up the filling, I dipped each cookie top into a sweet chocolate glaze (recipe below) that dried into a rich coating. It perfectly compliments the rest of the cookie, and made them taste pretty darn close to the originals! You can use milk or semi-sweet chocolate in the glaze, but my whole family preferred the milk chocolate.
I truly had so much fun making these cookies amidst memories of my dad, and they turned out so tasty. The only problem I have with them is that I can’t stop eating them! I love these chilled (which explains why my cookies are sweaty ), but they’re wonderful at room temperature as well (and fantastic frozen too!).
These have two big bonuses to them, in that they’re fast and easy, and they are delicious! Not your typical cookie, and quite a treat, they are moist and chocolatey, the filling fluffy and sweet, and it’s all perfectly enrobed a soft, smooth chocolate shell. How cold anyone resist? If you remember, and miss, these classic cookies, why not take a walk down memory lane, and share them with your loved ones? The hubster and kiddo had never heard of them before, and it was a delight to introduce them to them. Enjoy!
Devil’s Food Cookies
Makes 18 cookies
FOR THE COOKIES
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 cup cocoa powder (preferable dutch processed, to get the reddish color of devil’s food)
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
2 eggs, at room temperature (1/2 cup apple sauce for vegan/dairy-free)
1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature (combine soy or almond milk with 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice or white vinegar and let sit for at least 10 minutes for vegan/dairy-free)
FOR THE FILLING
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
1 cup confectioners’ sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup marshmallow spread (Ricemellow Creme for vegan)
FOR THE CHOCOLATE FROSTING
4.5 ounces milk (or semi-sweet) chocolate, coarsely chopped (be sure to use vegan chocolate for dairy-free)
3 tablespoons unsalted butter (margarine for vegan/dairy-free)
1 tablespoon corn syrup or honey
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
To make the cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat mats; set aside.
In a medium bowl, combine the flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
In a large bowl, or the bowl of a standing mixer, cream the butter and brown sugar together until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, and beat until just combined. Scrape the bowl as needed, then stir in the vanilla extract. Sprinkle 1/3 of the flour mixture over the butter mixture and beat until just combined, then add half of the buttermilk and mix until just combined. Repeat with the remaining flour mixture and buttermilk (additions will be 1/3 of the flour, 1/2 of the milk, another 1/3 of the flour, remaining milk, then remaining flour).
Place 1 tablespoon scoops of the batter about 3-inches apart on the prepared baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes, until the centers are no longer soft. Allow to cool on the baking sheet for 2 minutes, then transfer the cookies to a wire cooling rack and allow to cool completely before frosting.
To make the filling: Cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. Stir in the vanilla extract until combined, then stir in the marshmallow spread until thoroughly mixed. Cover and chill for 30 minutes. Once chilled, fill a decorating bag (or zip top bag) with the filling, snip off the end, and swirl the filling onto the top of each cookie, starting in the center and working your way out. Chill the cookies for 30 minutes.
To make the chocolate frosting: While the cookies are chilling, combine the chocolate, butter, and corn syrup in a medium bowl. Place in the microwave on high for 30 seconds. Remove and stir the ingredients together until smooth. If there are still unmelted bits of chocolate, heat the mixture for another 15 seconds in the microwave. Once the mixture is completely smooth, stir in the vanilla. Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature. Once cooled (about the same time as the cookies finish chilling), dip the top of each chilled cookie into the chocolate, completely coating the marshmallow filling. Place the cookies on a wire cooling rack set over parchment paper and allow to set up for 2 to 3 hours. The cookies can also be chilled, to speed the process up, but be aware that they will may sweat or even melt a bit once removed from the refrigerator.
Recipe by Darla