Homemade Oreo Cookies
April 13, 2011 § Leave a comment
E: Oreo cookies are one of the great embarrassments for the foodie that I’ve become in the time since I first realized that cooking was not only easy but fun. They are a guilty pleasure for me, a taste of my childhood despite the fact they were never allowed in the house. Oreos were one of those things that made it more exciting to go to friends’ houses, or to stop at gas stations during long road trips. And to this day, if someone nearby opens a package, I am almost guaranteed to consume a dreadful number of them. I have a sixth-sense for where they are, and once I find them I can’t stop at one or two or three (or six . . .). It is a strange thing for me, because I usually don’t over-eat, but after stopping at the eighth oreo I find myself unable to look their Nutrition Facts in the face for several days.
I have attempted various solutions to this problem. First, I never buy them. And since Joanna really doesn’t either, that usually works out alright (there were almost always some at my ex’s place, and their siren song would inevitably result in small bouts of self-hatred). However, sometimes I get cravings. I’ve tried buying other kinds of cookies: it doesn’t work. I’ve even tried buying other brands. Newman’s Own makes some “Cookies ‘n’ Cream” oreo clones that I got occasionally as a kid, a rare treat in a house where many processed foods were (thankfully) disallowed, but I found those just too uncomfortably close to eating cardboard, and haven’t been able to convince myself to try them again since.
So what’s a poor cook to do? Make his own of course! I’d had enough, I was out of options, and I was going to darn-well make some oreo cookies if it killed me (thesis? what thesis?). So I made these, from Deb at the inimitable Smitten Kitchen. They were quite good, but based on my experience I would make a few changes next time to really access the artificially-processed no-real-food-to-be-found-anywhere-in-here flavors and textures of my childhood. The filling was perfect, a taste-alike to the original without the chemical-y-ness. My wafers were too thick though, and perhaps needed to be a little saltier as well to really carry the chocolate flavor against the sweet center. I’ll note those changes below. I am in awe of how Deb’s came out looking, and I guess I assumed they would spread more because hers are so thin. But they didn’t, so a manual approach might be in order.
For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1 to 1 1/2 c. sugar (I used 1 cup, to make the wafers less sweet; Deb suggests the full amount if you are making the wafers on their own)
1/2 c. plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 c. vegetable shortening (I didn’t have any, so I used slightly less canola oil to get the frosting a bit softer)
2 c. sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
(You’ll also want parchment paper for your cookie sheets.)
Note: I recently re-made this recipe with a friend, and I have these suggestions to make. Use slightly under 1/2 c. butter and a few tablespoons of canola oil in the frosting. I felt the vegetable shortening made it too soft, and gave it an odd texture. Also, watch the cookies very carefully if you make them thin. They tend to cook faster than the estimated time. Try 7 minutes instead of 9.
Preheat the oven to 375F. Now, start out by making the dough for your wafers. Add the flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment (you’ll really want one for these, though you could certainly do everything by hand if you don’t have the option, or if you are a Luddite or something).
Look at the color of that cocoa! That’s real Dutch processed cocoa. I think it is one of the best baking investments you can make in terms of ingredients (good vanilla being the first probably, and good butter the second) and it makes everything look and taste delicious. Anyway, mix that stuff together.
While the mixer is on low, add the butter in pieces and then add the egg. Keep mixing it together. It’ll start to look like this:
And then eventually like this:
When it has all come together into a mass like this, the mixing is done. Next, eat some (obviously). [Requisite disclaimer about consuming raw or undercooked meat/poultry/fish/eggs: the FDA just doesn’t want you to have fun.] Now that that’s over with . . . spoon the dough out in rounded teaspoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper.
You’ll see I tried to put mine about 2 inches apart, per the original instructions. But this was mostly unnecessary for me, since they didn’t spread. I’d keep the separation, but you’ll want to do more than lightly push these down with your fingertips. I’d suggest flattening them with the bottom of a glass or something like that (you might need to dust some flour or cocoa powder on it), and try to get them really thin. Look at the pictures in the source recipe if you want to see what I’m trying to accomplish.
So place those on the cookie sheet 2 inches apart, press them down with the iron hand of the British industrialist (one for those Luddites still in the audience), and pop the sheets in the oven. Bake for about 9 minutes, until crisp but not burned. Rotate halfway through if your oven cooks unevenly.
Mine came out looking like this:
Set those aside to cool. I removed the cookies to a rack but you probably don’t have to.
Now get working on the filling. Rinse/wipe/wash out your mixer, and get ready to mix again. Add the butter to the mixer and set it mixing on low. Add the sugar gradually (say, in thirds), then the oil, then the vanilla. Once everything is pretty much incorporated, beat on high for a few minutes to make it fluffy.
Now you need to get the filling onto the cookies. You could use a piping bag–per the original recipe–or you could use a spoon (but that might be tricky to work with). I filled a large ziploc bag with the frosting concoction, cut off one of the corners, and made a makeshift piping bag (a useful tip I learned from somewhere).
Pipe the frosting on one wafer, set another on top, and gently press them together to make a cookie.
How much frosting you use is really up to you. I had to use far more than the above picture shows because my cookies were so thick. If yours are nicely thin, you may only need that much. I made most of my cookies “inside-out” so the outsides would be the flat bottoms that were touching the sheet. It was a strange choice, and not entirely justified. I’d have done it the other way if my cookies had not been so round on top.
Enjoy however you like your oreos, but with the added pride of having made them from scratch out of real ingredients.