Just before I left for the airport Monday morning, I stopped short and ran back inside, not because I forgot my power cord or business cards or anything normal like that, but to make myself a turkey sandwich. My flight left late, of course, and by the time I had time to unwrap my semi-smooshed last bit of home-cooked anything, I was so hungry, I was ready to ask the 18-month-old next to me to share one of his drooled-upon teething biscuits. Proust may have had his madeleine and my husband may have his pickled green tomatoes, but I had that turkey sandwich and in the one bite I allowed myself before the drink cart finally brought me something to wash it down with, I had found a happiness I didn’t know could exist at the front end of a much-dreaded three day business trip to a nine-acre enclosed glass pod.
It was the best thing I ate for days. What followed were stale, overly-sweet muffins falsely advertised as bran, potato chips I’d found myself eating because they were “free!” with my choking-dry turkey sandwich purchase, a banana days before my idea of what it’s prime should be, a tomato slice that was actually chewy, a fat-free yogurt so loaded with fake flavorings and artificial sugar that it took me half a bottle of water to get the taste of a single spoonful out of my mouth, and trauma induced by a room service menu boasting a “fried cheese collage,” although frankly not half as gross as the “mixed vegetable pasta” that arrived at my room an hour later. Pushing translucent, brown-edged lettuce around on a plastic tray in the Nashville airport Wednesday night, I up and dumped the whole thing in the garbage, deciding that life is too short to eat food that horrifies you in every way. Of course I had the luxury of doing that because I’d be home later, though the last laugh was still on me as my flight was delayed and I got in at about 1:30 a.m. so tired that my husband waiting up for me with that “I’m awake! I didn’t nod off!” harried look on his face almost brought me to tears. Also, because he is cute.
Thursday was understandably canceled due to lack of interest, and aside from yet another perfect-in-every-way turkey sandwich, I did nothing close to cooking until 8 p.m. when I realized that between a baby shower this weekend and a party tonight, something home-baked would be just what the doctor ordered. But exhaustion and a still-fried brain quickly told me that this was no time to try something new, not when all people ever ask for anyway is those Oreos I made last year.
Oh, they’re good. Awesome, even. But they absolutely fall within the category of “you’ve been warned.” If you make these once, prepare to make them a dozen more times, because I’ve yet to meet many people who don’t have a soft spot for iconic sweets. (The icebox cake also falls firmly within this category, as did the graham crackers I once made from the same book.) Any fatigue you may feel from being forced to repeat a recipe when you only want to try new things can be consoled, however, by the fact that these cookies are unbelievably easy to make, and have an infinitely forgiving batter. It’s really impossible to mess these up, and the part that you’re probably certain will be an unholy p.i.t.a.–filling and assembling the cookies–with a piping bag takes less than five minutes.
And when finished? I may not have ever been an Oreo fanatic in my life, not like my husband, at least, but one swoosh of it through an ice-cold glass of milk and my blurred head and imagined glass bubble lifted off. And that was milk, people–imagine their effect coupled with a good glass of wine.
Hey, Look! Someone made a celiac version of the Oreos! Thank you, Jill for the helpful adaptation.
Adapted from Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman
Let’s talk about the sugar for a minute, shall we? This is a sweet cookie. A good, sweet cookie. Yet, if you think of an actual Oreos, the wafers are fairly un-sweet and actually on the slightly salty side, which contrasts with the super-sweetness of the filling bringing harmony, happiness, yada yada. If you want your cookie closer to that original, you can take out a full half-cup of the sugar. If you want to make the cookie by itself (as I did a while back for ice cream sandwiches), go ahead and use the full amount.
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
For the chocolate wafers:
1 1/4 cups (155 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (45 grams, but cocoa weights can vary greatly) unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups (200 to 300 grams) sugar [see recipe note]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks or 140 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 55 grams) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup (50 grams) vegetable shortening
2 cups (240 grams) sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
- Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
- In a food processor, or bowl of an electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on low speed, add the butter, and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
- Take rounded teaspoons of batter and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for 9 minutes, rotating once for even baking. Set baking sheets on a rack to cool.
- To make the cream, place butter and shortening in a mixing bowl, and at low speed, gradually beat in the sugar and vanilla. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch, round tip, pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of one cookie. Place another cookie, equal in size to the first, on top of the cream. Lightly press, to work the filling evenly to the outsides of the cookie. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.