When we arrived to America, I was quick in growing to love American traditions and foods and general popular culture. I ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with great zeal and often dreamt (and still do) of pizza. Hamburgers and French fries, chicken nuggets and fish sticks, potato chips and chocolate chip cookies, sweet potato and broccoli, Fourth of July clambakes and Thanksgiving turkeys – I embraced it all as if it were the most natural thing in the world. I forced these unknown traditions on my parents, arguing with them, a bold and foolish teenager that I was, that these were the new ways of the world, and that we had to let go of our old world traditions because they were archaic that no one, besides my parents and their Russian friends, understood. I was eager to assimilate and become truly, completely, wholly American. If it was American – I loved it blindly and unequivocally.
Except for the Oreos. No matter how hard I tried, I never grew to love them. America’s most popular packaged cookies never quite captured my attention. While the chocolate wafers scored high on my list, the stuffing in the middle did little to entice my palate. Whenever I was given an Oreo, I would separate the chocolate wafers from the stuffing (I would actually scrape the stuffing off and put it in the garbage – the nerve!) and eat just the cookie part. I can hear Oreo fans worldwide shuddering at the thought. And for that, I sincerely apologize. I never meant any harm, I swear.
No matter how hard I tried to love the Oreo, its white stuffing eluded me. It felt grainy and waxy on my tongue, too sweet for me to enjoy, made from something I wasn’t sure of. I once tried to read an ingredient list for it, and I quickly had to put that exercise to rest. I also did that once with Twinkies and didn’t get very far. Some things are better left unexamined. Like the ingredient list of a Twinkie. You’re just opening a Pandora’s box on that one because if the ingredients frighten you as much as they do me, you’ll be dismayed while reading the strange multi-syllabic words. Sometimes, it’s just better not to know.
With sadness, I accepted the fact that I was never to become an Oreos fan, when I spotted these homemade Oreos on Smitten Kitchen. The white stuffing made mostly with butter, sugar and a tiny bit of shortening sounded good, so I printed the recipe, filed it, but distracted by work, forgot about it.
A recent request for homemade Oreos (that sounded more like a challenge at the time), pushed the cookies up to the top of the pile, and boy, am I glad I made them now and not months later. I mean, I’m glad on the one hand and a little worried on the other. Armed with a cookie recipe so easy to make, what is to stop me from making these over and over and over? Mere minutes after I finished creating cookie sandwiches, my batch was six (6!) cookie fewer and I had to refill my glass with more milk. I’d like to think these cookies are good for calcium intake; please don’t tell me otherwise.
Makes 25 to 30 sandwich cookies
Chocolate Wafers Ingredients:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa (I used a very dark Callebaut)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [I used 1 cup of sugar because I didn’t want a very sweet cookie and a very sweet filling]
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375°F.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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 2-3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
5. To assemble the cookies, in a pastry bag with a 1/2 inch round tip, pipe teaspoon-size dollops 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.