To my great surprise, I made it out of snowy Iowa and into snowy Virginia on Sunday afternoon with only the mildest delay out of Cedar Rapids, where the ground crew needed an extra half-hour to de-ice the plane. (You have to de-ice a plane?? Quite alarming.) Even my checked luggage was clever enough to follow me home, despite a scrunched layover of 15 minutes in Minneapolis.
Since being home all the agony of Christmas parking has set in, because if there’s one thing DC-area drivers do worse than drive in the snow, it’s park in the snow. Yes, to be fair, snow plows haven’t totally cleared all the parking lots yet, so there are piles of dirty snow lopping into half the spots. But really: is that any excuse to just park your car in the aisle? (Here’s looking at you, McLean soccer moms.) I say no, Northern Virginia, it is no excuse at all, and last time I checked big, scary blizzards don’t suddenly invalidate the laws of parking lot traffic flow. I would take a photo, but it’s just too embarrassing.
Clearly, the thing to do is stay home and make cookies instead.
Today I’m channeling middle America, which is how oreos have always struck me. Especially now, having lived there for the past several months. None of that prissy European fare I’ve been offering up since August, from nutella cake and quiche to focaccia and croissants. These are just friendly, down-home, good ol’ American oreos, only (of course) better. Fresher, softer cookies, with more pronounced, gooey-sweet centers.
I can already hear some of my oreo-enthusiast friends wincing at that photo: a pastry bag? For oreos? I thought you said this was going to be easy! And now they’re having doubts about fresh-baked oreo cookies, and doesn’t this somehow tamper with the Nabisco purity? Well. For one, you don’t actually need a piping bag — a well-slathered knife will do just fine. (The bag is so you can apply the cream to the middle of the cookie, then squelch it out to the sides when you sandwich it, which is admittedly very fun.) And second, these cookies are awesome. Even if you have a particular affinity for the store bought rock-hard, unflavored wafers and the identically-shaped rounds of white cream — these will change your mind. If you don’t much care for oreos: I bet they’ll change yours, too.
From the smitten kitchen
(Deb at SK notes that if you want to mimic real oreos’ slightly salty exterior wafers, you should omit up to 1/2 cup of sugar. I put in the full cup and a half, but will likely scale it back to a cup and a quarter next time, if not less.)
For the cookie
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 to 1 1/2 cups sugar [see above]
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 large egg
For the cream filling
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
Set two racks in the center of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
Using a food processor or an electric mixer, combine flour, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Slowly add the butter, then the egg, until mixture comes together in a ball.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Drop the dough by rounded teaspoons, slightly flattening each ball with your hands. Cook for nine minutes, rotating the sheets halfway though to ensure even baking.
To make the cream, combine the butter and shortening in a bowl on low speed. Add sugar and vanilla and beat on high until light and airy, two to three minutes.
To assemble the oreos, place the cream in a pastry bag outfitted with a large, round tip. Pipe blots of filling on the center of one cookie and cap it with a second of the same size. Press together slightly so the cream squelches out toward the edges. Continue until all the cookie halves have been paired up and filled.
Makes 15-20 large oreos.