The Oreo is a thing of beauty, the perfect marriage of chocolate and cream all sandwiched together in a harmonious union. I love them, but I do feel guilty eating them. The urban legends (or maybe they are not quite legends) about the cream being composed entirely of wobbly, fatty lard have even made the glutton in me stop and reflect before gorging myself on a neat stack of these processed treats.
Last week I was at the Berkeley Public Library, browsing through the cookbook section. (Yes, this public library, despite its rather paltry fiction section, does have a solid cookbook section.) I spotted the book Retro Desserts by Wayne Harley Brachman, a book filled with desserts from Grasshopper Pie to Lemon Pudding Cake to, you guessed it, Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla-Cream Filling. Why, that sounds an awful lot like my beloved Oreos. I checked the book out, and rushed home to get my sugar-high.
The cookies where a cinch to make, crisp and crumbly, with just the right amount of vanilla cream oozing out of the sides of the cookie when a bite was taken. These sandwich cookies tasted surprisingly like those store-bought cookies, only dare I say– better. The cookies had a pleasing brittle quality to them, they cracked not languished when you tried to bend them. But the crispness of the cookie was perfectly mediated by the luscious, though not overly sweet, cream center.
I would even say that I would use the chocolate cookie recipe again to sandwich other fillings: peanut butter, mocha buttercream, or now that the spring and summer months are upon us, ice cream. If you would like to make your obsession with chocolate sandwich cookies known, and whip up an almost guilt-free batch of your own, try them yourself.
Note: The recipe does call for a bit of shortening, I used the trans-fat free variety to maintain a modicum of health.
Chocolate Sandwich Cookies with Vanilla-Cream Filling
from Retro Desserts
Makes 30 sandwich cookies
For the Chocolate Wafers:
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup unsweetened Dutch process cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room- temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg
For the Vanilla-Cream Filling:
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1/4 cup vegetable shortening
2 cups sifted confectioners’ sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
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 2 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 2-3 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 process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Enjoy!