Oreos, Homemade

After last month’s ode to the everyday cookie, full of oats and virtue, today’s recipe for a cream-filled, chocolate sandwich cookie modelled after a commercial Oreo seems like a betrayal. Abandoning the coconut oil and maple syrup of cookies past for butter, white sugar and confectioners’ sugar, feels like we’re taking a giant step backwards. But in a sense, that’s the point. 

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In my mind, commercial cookies are an exercise in balancing convenience, taste and cost. Noble-ish goals, but cost and convenience often translate into ingredients that are cheap and resilient to the usually-damaging effects of time. The result? A product that tastes good, and for a long time at that, but that doesn’t have the authenticity, freshness and feel-good factor of a homemade cookie. 

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So here’s where the step backwards comes in. Making Oreos from scratch obviously doesn’t offer the same convenience as picking up a box from the store (though these aren’t particularly tough or time consuming), and it probably costs an extra couple of dollars too. But in taking the old-school approach – making everything from scratch – you produce cookies that look like cookies. Barely-sweet chocolate varieties made from a sugar-sparkling, cocoa-rich dough, filled with a simple, homemade vanilla buttercream that offer up a tastier texture and nostalgia-inducing flavour relative to their factory-made cousins. Not necessarily healthful, but not unrecognizable as baking either. 

cookies.jpgAll of this is, I recognize, an exercise in rationalization. In the world of cookie options, these aren’t the most redeeming by a long shot. But if your goal is to improve upon the classic Oreo, or simply to indulge in deliciousness, these are for you. I’m sure the oat-y cookies will understand. 

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Homemade Oreos
Via smitten kitchen
Makes ~three dozen

Cookie Ingredients
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp fine salt
1/2 cup + 2 tbsp unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 large egg, preferably organic

Filling Ingredients
1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar (you can get away with slightly less – just taste the filling as you slowly add the sugar!)
2 tsp pure vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want the filling to be white, like commercial Oreos)

Directions

To  make the cookies:

Position oven wracks in the centre of the oven. Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

In the bowl of a food processor or stand mixer, stir together flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder and salt until well combined. Add the butter and pulse/stir until the butter is in small clumps. Add the egg and pulse/stir until the dough is uniform in colour and is clumping together. Throughout the process, stir down the sides of the bowl as necessary!

Using your hands, roll slightly rounded teaspoons of dough into balls, placing them two inches apart on the baking sheet. Flatten balls with the palm of your hand just slightly (they should be about 1/3 of an inch high). Bake for 7-9 minutes, until edges are firm and centres are cooked through. Let cool on the tray for 2 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.

cookie-steps.jpgTo make filling and assemble cookies: 

Once the cookies have cooled completely, make your filling. In the bowl of a stand mixer (or using a bowl and a handheld mixer), beat 1 cup of butter on low speed, gradually adding in the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla until fully incorporated. Increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat for 2-3 minutes, until the filling is light and fluffy.

Transfer filling to a pastry bag or reusable bag with the tip cut off. With the flat side of the cookies facing up, pipe about 1 tsp of filling into the centre of half of the cookies. Top each iced cookie with a second cookie of equal size (you’ll save yourself some messy trial and error if you pair up the cookies before you start piping the icing), pressing slightly to squish the filling out to the edges of the sandwich. 

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