Last weekend I spent 48 hours with 14 of my seventh graders. At camp. Doing campy things (pun intended).

That probably sounds like a unique form of teacher-torture, but it was actually a fantastic experience, and one I’m planning on telling you all about. For now, though, I just want to tell you about highs and lows.

Highs and lows is a game we played while sitting in one of those kumbaya campfire circles you may remember from the summers of your childhood. Each student listed a high from the day — some accomplishment or moment of frolicking they particularly enjoyed — and a low — something they would change if they had fancy superhero rewind powers.

This may sound strange, but listening to them recite their lows was encouraging. If you’ve ever been close to a seventh grader for a prolonged period of time, you know that they can lapse into sarcasm and negativity about as quick as you can say, “Do your homework.” At other times, though, they can be pretty special little people to be around.

I heard a few people say, “I can’t think of any lows.” A couple commented on minor annoyances like bugs or pollen. One was sad his team didn’t get to float their raft because of the rain, but even that was qualified with, “but I really enjoyed the process of building it anyway.” What cool kids.

Their highs were even better. They were proud of how everyone had worked as a team, enthusiastic about spending time with their classmates, excited that one team’s makeshift raft had made it to the dock and back without disintegrating. All in all, the circle was a sweet, s’more-punctuated time — even without joining hands or braiding daisies into each other’s hair (though that would’ve been fun).

I’m a thoroughly reflective person — a trait happily amplified by my profession — and there’s been quite a lot to digest in my life beyond the campgrounds lately. Perhaps that’s why my thoughts turned today toward the highs and lows game — mountains and valleys, waterfalls and mud puddles. I’ve been trying to revisit the campfire in my mind to catalog and categorize recent events.

My lowest low this week was disconnecting from a good friend. I’ve been seeing a boy for awhile now who was special to me during my own middle school years, but I realized recently that things weren’t going to pan out. I’m trying to be all Joy-the-Baker about this and say, “Oh, boys come and go like brownie recipes,” but I think you must need curly hair and adorable freckles to pull that off, ’cause it’s not working for me. I guess I’ll stick to unattractive moping.

There are other, more mundane lows. My basil plant is looking droopy. The weather’s been rainy and chilled. A cloud bank today on the horizon reminded me of unreachable mountains, somber moments.


-Today my sweet friend and coworker Ashley brought me a happy hippo.
-I just bought two of the sweetest sundresses ever from Target.
-I literally own at least 5 jars of On the Border salsa at this very moment.
-My family is healthy.
-I’m watching a bit of Kings of Pastry each evening.
-I found out a local cupcake truck is selling a version of one of my cupcake recipes, which they’ve named after the blog.
-Flippin’ SAVEUR listed Willow Bird Baking as one of the “50 More Food Blogs You Should Be Reading.”

Such soaring highs! I’m so grateful for those.

Another sorely needed high came in the form of these sweet little sandwich cookies. Driving home with Ashley, who bravely co-chaperoned the camping trip, I started brainstorming ways to use the coffee mousse I’m now enamored with. We thought of a gorgeous roulade, filled cupcakes, and lots of other things, but then Ashley mentioned how she loved to invent new cookie recipes. Cookies are so simple, so quick, so satisfying — everything I needed after a rough and tumble couple of days.

Mom’s hydrangea bushes are blooming — another high!

They’re also delectable, particularly when the words double chocolate are involved. These little sandwiches turned out rich and indulgent, with the perfect balance of flavors (sweet chocolate combined with the bitter, matte flavor of coffee) and textures (voluminous cream between chunky cookies).

For me, there’s also something simple and childlike about the experience of eating a cookie sandwich. It reminds me of pulling an Oreo or an Oatmeal Cream Pie like a treasure from a Care Bears lunchbox. And if that sort of memory isn’t a high, I don’t know what is.

What are your highs and lows lately?

Coffee Mousse Filled Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sandwiches

Recipe by: Cookies adapted from Cathy Lowe, mousse adapted from coffee pastry cream by Rebecca Franklin
Yield: About 48 cookies or 24 sandwiches

Cookie Ingredients:
2 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 sticks butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup bitterweet chocolate chips (I love Ghirardelli)
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Coffee Mousse Ingredients:
1 ΒΌ cups whole milk
2 teaspoons instant coffee granules
3 egg yolks
5 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup whipping cream
1 teaspoon gelatin

Make the cookies: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Whisk together flour, salt, and baking soda in a medium bowl. In a large bowl, cream the butters and both sugars together for a couple of minutes until fluffy. Add egg, vanilla and cocoa and mix. Gradually add flour mixture and mix until combined. Add chocolate chips and pecans, stirring until they’re evenly distributed.

Drop the dough by tablespoonfuls onto a greased baking sheet or one covered with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Bake for 8-10 minutes and cool on the pan for a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.

Make the mousse: While cookies are baking and cooling, make the mousse. Whisk together the egg yolks, sugar, flour, and cornstarch until the mixture is completely smooth and set aside. Place the milk in a saucepan and sprinkle gelatin over it. Let it soften for 2 minutes before adding the coffee granules and setting the saucepan over low heat. Heat until it’s just hot enough to steam, stirring the gelatin in to dissolve.

Once the milk is steaming, add half of it, whisking constantly, to the egg mixture to temper the eggs (this ensures they won’t cook when you add them to the hot mixture). Add the milk and eggs back into the hot milk and continue stirring, and heat it for 1-2 minutes, until the custard reaches 170 F on a digital thermometer and is very thick. Remove from the heat, stir in the vanilla extract, and set the pan in a bowl of ice water, stirring every few minutes. Cool completely in this manner.

In the meantime, whip the cream in a chilled bowl until it holds stiff peaks. When the coffee mixture is cool, mix about 1/3 of the cream into it to loosen and lighten it. Then fold the rest of the cream in gently. Chill the mousse for at least 30 minutes before using.

Assemble the sandwiches: Turn half of the cookies upside down on the cooling rack. Pipe or dollop a good amount of cream onto these cookies and place the other cookies on top of them. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container.

P.S. One of my high school cooking students had the idea to try this coffee mousse with bacon and it was fantastic! Have I mentioned that I love my students?

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37 Comments on Coffee Mousse Filled Double Chocolate Chunk Cookie Sandwiches

  1. Anita Menon
    May 18, 2011 at 4:30 pm (13 years ago)

    You really made me think hard on this one.
    My latest highs have been coming to England a few days back and being able to spend time with my hubby

    Lows have been being away from my ibaby and missing her every single minute.

    The cookies are just the thing, I would like to have to blow my blues away

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 18, 2011 at 4:35 pm (13 years ago)

      Aw, those are great ones, Anita! I’m glad you’re getting to spend time with the hubby!

  2. Brooke (Baking with Basil)
    May 18, 2011 at 4:45 pm (13 years ago)

    I need to make these now!!! The coffee mousse sounds absolutely wonderful! We used to play the high and low game when I was younger. I still think of things to myself after a long day. It can really keep things in perspective sometimes.

    Maybe your basil is just sad from all the rain too. Good thing there is sun coming this weekend. πŸ™‚

  3. Vanessa
    May 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm (13 years ago)

    Mmh I love cookie sandwiches. My basil is droopy too. Stupid weather. So excited for your SAVEUR shout out!!! I’m so excited to try your inspired cupcake at the rally tomorrow!! πŸ™‚

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 19, 2011 at 1:41 pm (13 years ago)

      Wish the basil plants would chin up, darn it! πŸ™‚ Thanks, Vanessa! See you at the rally!

  4. Terry
    May 18, 2011 at 5:18 pm (13 years ago)

    These look SO yummy! Thank you for the recipe and the pictures. Loved reading about your 7th graders, too.

    So cool about the cupcake truck and super-cool about Saveur!

    Going to see my daughter & grand-daughter tomorrow for the day and the cool rainy weather make are high points this week.

    Your blog today rounds it out nicely!

  5. onceuponarecipe
    May 18, 2011 at 5:29 pm (13 years ago)

    These look delicious! Congrats on your highs! (SAVEUR – awesome!) And I hope you start to feel better about the lows. πŸ™‚

  6. Lauren at Keep It Sweet
    May 18, 2011 at 7:16 pm (13 years ago)

    I love this post and am in love with those cookie sandwiches! CONGRATS on the Saveur listing!! You deserve it! Low for the week- weather, High for the week- deciding I want to start working towards a food-related job:-)

  7. Joanne
    May 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm (13 years ago)

    Congrats on the saveur mention love! No one deserves it more! I am always so amazed with the crazy awesome inventive food you come up with! These coffee mousse heaven cookies being no exception! Amazing. A hug in a cookie.

  8. michelle
    May 19, 2011 at 1:37 pm (13 years ago)

    I just found your blog and have been checking out your awesome posts and creations for the last hour! Love so many of them!!

  9. taylorandsaracompete
    May 19, 2011 at 1:58 pm (13 years ago)

    These look delicious! My Mom’s hydrangeas are blooming also!

  10. Meggie Wallace
    May 19, 2011 at 2:41 pm (13 years ago)

    *drools* Yes! this looks wonderful! I want to home make some ice cream cookie sandwiches… I have the ice cream maker sitting in the freezer, but haven’t had time to fiddle with it much!! Chocolate with coffee ice cream? Mmmm….. Know of any good ice cream recipes?

    ~Jeans shopping and discovering I am size 10 at old navy now… yay!
    ~Making some awesome peanut butter banana bread!
    ~Making delicious Chicken and Dumplings
    ~Planning the early June Kure Beach visit

    ~My brain keeping myself from doing things I like/love to do

    Might start logging the high and low points of the day! What a great idea!! <3

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 19, 2011 at 3:21 pm (13 years ago)

      Ooh, I don’t know of any good ones yet (no ice cream maker), but I love your plan! And your highs sound wonderful! Congrats on a new size, great food, and the BEACH! I might have to crash your beach trip πŸ˜‰

      I love the highs/lows game too. Makes me happy to reflect!

  11. sharon
    May 19, 2011 at 11:12 pm (13 years ago)

    despite being a stranger, i feel the urge to give you a hug! don’t let the boy stuff get you down– those positives far outweigh! in any case, from the second i read the name of the cookies, you had me drooling; i must make these!

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 19, 2011 at 11:13 pm (13 years ago)

      I would totally welcome a hug from a stranger! I love hugs πŸ™‚ Thanks, Sharon!

  12. Mackenzie@The Caramel Cookie
    May 20, 2011 at 8:14 am (13 years ago)

    Congrats on the Saveur mention! That’s awesome! And since the moose has coffee in it, these are prefectly okay to eat for breakfast, right?

      • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
        May 20, 2011 at 8:25 am (13 years ago)

        Thanks Mackenzie! These are DEFINITELY, definitely a breakfast food; I think you’re right! πŸ˜‰

        And I would LOVE to see a moose with coffee in him. I might want to be a good distance away, though! Ha.

  13. karen d
    May 21, 2011 at 2:03 pm (13 years ago)

    Oh my goodness, two of my favorite things, chocolate and coffee, together with another of my favorite things, cookies. YUM!!! Congrats on Saveur and your hydrangeas are beautiful (my favorite flower too). I saw that you were going to be at the Charlotte Farmers Mkt. soon, when will that be? I would love to stop by and meet you.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 21, 2011 at 2:12 pm (13 years ago)

      Thanks, Karen! I’d love to meet you, too! It’s actually the Davidson Farmers Market. No date yet, but I’ll be sure to let you know when I find out! Can’t wait!

  14. Maranda
    May 21, 2011 at 3:41 pm (13 years ago)

    Wow! Just…wow. I saw the first picture and thought of oatmeal cream pies immediately. I think the lowest low this week is that The Hubble had to leave us. He’s off to play Army and we won’t get to see him more than 3 weeks in the next year and a half.

    But! Little Butt and I are close to family and in a state with great weather. We are all healthy and happy. I have a great home and enough to keep me busy over the next 16 months or so. And I have friends like you who know how to post a delicious recipe with a beautiful story that makes me smile.

    Sorry about the break up by the way… ((HUGS))

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      May 23, 2011 at 11:40 pm (13 years ago)

      I’m so sorry about your low! You are one brave wife and mama! I’m always impressed with military wives and how they handle deployments. But I’m so happy that you’re in TX now, as well — much better situation for you! Thinking good thoughts for you and Little Butt!

  15. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella
    May 23, 2011 at 6:50 am (13 years ago)

    Sounds like there are a lot of highs to be had Julie! That is very cool about the cupcake truck and your cupcakes! πŸ˜€

  16. natalie (the sweets life)
    May 23, 2011 at 2:12 pm (13 years ago)

    glad you can focus on the highs because you listed some exciting stuff! I’m so happy for you! (and I’m drooling thinking about these cookies!!!)

  17. Savannagal
    September 28, 2011 at 12:47 pm (13 years ago)

    Those cookies look and sound delicious. I’ve never made mousse, but I’m going to give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      September 28, 2011 at 12:50 pm (13 years ago)

      Thanks! Mousses are GREAT little tricks to get down, because you can stick ’em in cupcakes, in tart shells, on top of cakes, or just in a bowl with a spoon! Hope you love these πŸ™‚


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