I’m pretty good when it comes to processed, store-bought treats. I don’t mean to say that I’m good when it comes to sugar – ooooh, no, I’ll admit I consume some form of chocolate nearly every day – but über-popular, chemically-enhanced “goodies” like Twinkies, Little Debbie snacks, Skittles, Sour Patch Kids, etc. never did it for me. Snickers Almond and Dark Chocolate Reese’s Cups have won soft spots in my heart, but I rarely eat them…oh, but Oreos! Traditional and especially Double Stuf (although I abhor the spelling) Oreos are the only mainstream treats that take all my willpower not to buy. If they somehow make their way into the apartment (via roommates or boyfriend), they will, in record time, be consumed – usually in stacks of six.
With my recent endeavor to become a “whole-foodie” (someone who doesn’t eat processed foods), I began by picking my favorite meals and snacks to learn to make from scratch. I knew I would never be 100% successful – it’s just not feasible with my job and lifestyle – but I wanted to take small steps in an effort to sloooowly eliminate as many processed foods from my diet as possible (I am limited also in my cooking ability, but that’s a different matter, haha!). I tried to deconstruct the Oreo early on, but was boggled by the suspiciously robust cream filling and promptly gave up.
My first batch of homemade Oreos was delicious, but also incredibly sweet! Deb had warned about reducing the sugar content in the cookie dough if one wanted cookies more like the store-bought kind, so I had followed her advice. Even still, two cookies made my teeth ache. The filling was also sweeter than the processed kind, I felt. Two weeks later I had the opportunity to whip up anther batch of Oreos and I decided to try experimenting.
Immediately I cut the sugar content of the cookie dough and the filling. I also didn’t have access to shortening at the time, so I unintentionally had to double the amount of butter used in the filling to compensate. This last tweak worried me quite a bit as I assumed the shortening is what gave the cream filling the firm consistency like the store-bought kind. My resulting recipe is as follows:
Homemade Oreos! (adapted from Smitten Kitchen)
For the Cookies…
1 ¼ C all-purpose flour
½ C unsweetened cocoa*
1 t baking soda
¼ t baking powder
¼ t salt
¾ C sugar
½ C room-temperature unsalted butter (1 stick), plus 2 T (¼ stick)
1 large egg
* Note: Deb’s recipe calls for Dutch-processed cocoa, which I didn’t have. I used my usual stuff and loved the cookies anyway. In the future I hope to try it with Dutch-processed and compare.
For the Cream Filling…
½ C room-temperature unsalted butter (1 stick)
1 C sifted confectioner’s sugar
2 t vanilla extract
- Place two racks in the middle of the oven and preheat to 375°F.
- Using a food processor or electric mixer, thoroughly mix the flour, cocoa, baking soda and powder, salt, and sugar. While pulsing, or on a low speed, add the butter and then the egg. Continue processing or mixing until dough comes together in a mass.
- Form teaspoon-sized balls of dough and place on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet approximately two inches apart. With moistened hands or the back of a floured spoon, slightly flatten the dough. Bake for about 10 minutes, longer for a crispier cookie (like the store-bought kind) or slightly less for a chewier one.
- While the cookies are baking, make the filling by slowing creaming together butter, sugar, and vanilla in a small bowl with an electric mixer. Turn the mixer on high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes until filling is light and fluffy.
- To assemble the cookies, use a pastry bag (or Ziplock baggie with a corner snipped off) to pipe teaspoon-size blobs of cream into the center of a cookie. Find another cookie of similar size to the first and place it on top, sandwiching the filling. Then press down lightly, working the filling evenly to the edges of the sandwich. Continue this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream.
I was right on all accounts with this second batch of homemade Oreos: reducing the sugar made them much more palatable (at least to me) and the cookie tasted exactly like the processed one. The cream filling was indeed much softer without the shortening, but I actually enjoyed the buttery taste of this second version enough to forgive its consistency. The experiment was a success!
**UPDATE: I recently (8/28) made a batch of these babies for a friend and experimented further by dividing up the filling and adding unsweetened cocoa powder (2 T to be exact) to one half while keeping the other half true to the original recipe (although adding only 1 t vanilla to the original-flavored cream to make up for the halving). Another success! I may like these double-chocolate oreos even better (see very beginning photo up top).
Overall Enjoyment: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥