Double the deliciousness: Melbourne's new cookie sandwiches
As featured in Good Food Written by Leanne Clancey
Macarons? Over. Cronuts? Forget it. Doughnuts? So 2014. Cookie sandwiches? Now you're talking.
There's an increasing new breed of doubled-up bikkies gracing the cake cabinets of Melbourne's cafes lately. Just take a look. Whether it's a new take on Oreos or a home-style crack at the Wagon Wheel, it feels like 2015 is shaping up as the year of the cookie sandwich.
So what does it actually take to qualify as a cookie sandwich? Essentially it's any variation on two cookies (or biscuits) that have been stuck together with a "mortar" filling of buttercream, chocolate, jam, frosting or ice-cream – or a combo of fillings.
It's most likely an extension of our current proclivity for Americana and most definitely the perfect two-handed, anti-dainty response to all those pretty little two-bite macarons you ate three years ago. The cookie sandwich is bigger, messier, and way more satisfying. It's generous and real and makes you feel like a kid again.
According to wonder pastry chef Nat Paull of North Melbourne's Beatrix, the sandwich style of cookie "really touches people's nostalgia bones". And it takes no time to work out she's a massive fan herself. "Everyone loves a sandwich. It's basically some carbs holding together something creamy and soft! What's not to love?"
One of Beatrix's biggest sellers is the Calamity Jane – Paull's reverential take on her childhood favourite, the Wagon Wheel. "They just seemed so magical," she says.
Naturally, the Beatrix iteration is made entirely from scratch; with house-made marshmallows and jammy "strawberry jewels" lining the insides of a pair of house-made graham cookies. The whole shebang then gets dipped in dark couverture chocolate, and finished off with a sprinkle of freeze-dried strawberries. "It's such a great mix of textures: crunchy, juicy, creamy" she says. "I think people love it because you can really get your hands around it and kind of stuff it in your face."
Over in Yarraville, British-born pastry chef Matt Forbes has been applying his Michelin-trained sweet-making skills to the genre. Supplied to the likes of Pardon, Hortus and Dukes Coffee Roasters, Forbes' rendition of the classic Oreo cookie sees him slathering a salt caramel and cardamom buttercream between two chocolate biscuits that he makes with extra dark cocoa powder "so that they look black". And he's also been having fun with a riff on the old-school British Jammy Dodger. Forbes' "raspberry rose shortbread" is a deliciously pretty pairing of two rosewater-laced shortbread biscuits, with rose-scented buttercream and a tart raspberry and lychee jam as the filling.
A few streets away, Orlando Artavilla of Yarraville's Candied Bakery is unmistakably excited about having perfected their American-style "double peanut butter and jelly" cookie sandwich. He uses a peanut-butter flavoured shortcrust cookie dough – done on a quick bake (six minutes), and fills the cookies with home-made raspberry jam and a peanut-butter frosting. "The texture of it is incredible. People love the shortcrust. It's quite light in texture. It's soft but quite snappy – it gives a real snap when you bite into it" he says.
At Carlton's Assembly and across town at Clement in South Melbourne you'll find folks losing their minds over what just may be Melbourne's quintessential cookie sandwich, the Butterbing – a brownie-style chocolate cookie duo filled with buttercream in flavours such as peanut butter, salted caramel and vanilla.
Bakers Simone Clark and Trevor Stubbs started Butterbing Cookie Sandwiches early last year and they now supply wholesale to many of Melbourne's top specialty coffee houses, churning out up to 2000 handmade Butterbings each week.
Clark says that it's the texture of their cookie sandwiches that sets them apart. "The mouth-feel delivers a different experience to other cookies, it's often not what people are expecting. It's slightly crunchy on the outside and incredibly fudgy and chewy on the inside. Once you bite down the smooth buttercream combines with the chocolate and it's just bliss!" she says.
If sales are anything to go by, Melbourne's favourite Butterbing is by far the salted caramel. Clark explains: "Adding salt unlocks the true flavours of the sweet, making it moreish and addictive. One of our favourite quotes from a customer is "I didn't want to eat a whole cookie. I tried to stop but my mouth just kept eating." Sorry doughnuts, we've moved on. It's time for the cookie.