Recipe quick takes: Joanne Chang’s “Homemade Oreos”

Another week, another quick review of a Joanne Chang cookie recipe. I have to put “Homemade Oreos” — or perhaps “Homemade ‘Oreos'” — in quotation marks, because these sandwich cookies really don’t have anything to do with Oreo brand sandwich cookies except in a very abstract way (and how hasn’t she gotten sued by Mondelez International, anyway?). For one thing, they’re huge. For another, they’re made from food. And people who hate Oreo brand sandwich cookies actually like them! Like last week’s effort, this recipe comes from Chang’s first cookbook, Flour (Chronicle Books, 2010; p. 134); the procedure and parts list are both a bit more complicated than the almond macaro(o)ns, but still pretty easy. These are icebox cookies (as the sainted Maida Heatter would say), so expect to take parts of two days to bake.

Mise en place for cakes
We start with the cakes (biscuits, however you want to say it). The “wet team” consists of two sticks (225 g) of unsalted butter, which will shortly be melted so there’s no need for it to soften; 150 g of granulated sugar; one large egg; 1 tsp vanilla extract; and, unusually, 200 g of semisweet chocolate chips — I used Guittard — which will also be melted (separately from the butter). The “dry team” is 210 g all-purpose flour, 90 g Dutch-process cocoa, 1 tsp kosher salt, and ½ tsp baking soda.

Melted chocolate-butter mixture
As mentioned, both the butter and the chocolate chips are melted (separately) and allowed to cool somewhat. The sugar is then combined with the butter (this allows it to dissolve in the water phase of the butter — don’t try to substitute a different fat!), and then the melted chocolate chips are stirred in. Finally, the remaining wet ingredients (egg and vanilla) are whisked in; by this point the mixture should be cool enough not to scramble the egg.

Dry ingredients mixed
All the dry ingredients are just sifted together (or whisked, or stirred, however you like so long as they’re well combined) in a separate bowl.

Dough cooling in mixing bowl
After adding the dry team to the wet, it takes a while to mix them together thoroughly, as this is a fairly stiff dough. Once it is mixed, the dough needs to cool to warm room temperature so that it can be formed into a “log” — but if you’re like me, you’ll have trouble stopping yourself from just pinching off pieces of the warm batter and eating it as is; I estimate I ate 3–4 cookies’ worth (6–8 unassembled cakes) along the way.

"Log" of dough
Once cooled, the dough is formed into a rough “log” on a sheet of parchment, and then rolled into a more even cylindrical shape. The recipe says it should be 2½ inches (65 mm) in diameter, but I only managed about 2″ (50 mm). I think they came out OK anyway, with fully assembled serving sizes more than sufficient for my audience.

At this point, the still-soft cylinder of dough goes into the refrigerator (still wrapped in parchment) to solidify for two hours. Chang recommends rerolling the cylinder every 15 minutes so it doesn’t develop a flat spot where it sits on the shelf. Once fully solid, it can be baked or wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to a week. Since many cookies benefit from an overnight rest in the fridge, I resolved to pick up the process the next day.

Circles of unbaked dough on cookie sheet
Fast-forward to Sunday afternoon. I’ve preheated the oven to 325°F (160°C) and lined a couple of baking sheets with parchment sheets. The cylinder of dough is removed from the refrigerator and sliced into approximately ¼-inch (6 mm) rounds — I gave up on using the ruler after the first few, so mine were a bit less even than one would like. (The obvious tool here is either a commercial guillotine cutter, or some sort of scribe that could make lots of scratches in parallel, ¼″ apart. I assume in the Oreo factory they use a more liquid batter and a depositor.) For slicing the rounds, I used a chef’s knife, working quickly and rotating the “log” from time to time so that the cutting pressure would not result in a flat spot. (Which as you can see didn’t entirely work!) Maybe it would have been better to cut the cylinder in half and slice two at a time.

Baked cakes cooling on sheet
In my oven it took 21 minutes to bake the cakes until just firm; as you can see, they don’t spread much. On the two baking sheets I got a total of 26 cakes (as opposed to the 32 I should have had per the recipe, had I not eaten so much of the dough and had I done a better job of slicing evenly.)

Mise en place for filling
The filling for these sandwich cookies is the standard so-called “American buttercream”, which isn’t a buttercream at all, but is made from butter (1 stick, 115 g), confectioner’s sugar (230 g), vanilla (1 tsp), and milk (1 tbl). This is all made by the usual procedure, which I won’t go into here. Chang adds a pinch of salt to the filling as well; I dissolved the salt in the milk before adding it to the faux-buttercream to ensure that it would be evenly distributed.

13 fully assembled "Oreos"
About a tablespoon of the frosting is used to fill each sandwich cookie. (Or use your best judgment!) Since I was short on the cakes, I had some frosting left over (but not for long). As you can see, these cookies are several times larger than an Oreo brand sandwich cookie, but they do at least share the traditional color scheme.

One "Oreo"
I brought a bunch of these into work on Monday and they were devoured. Everyone who tried them loved them — even Sue Felshin, who rarely likes things with the sort of sweet sugary frosting that these cookies use as a filling, enjoyed hers (although she commented that the biscuits were a bit salty, so perhaps you might cut that teaspoon of kosher salt in half). Of course, the down side of these being so huge is that they have a lot more calories (and sugar, and fat) than the genuine Oreo brand sandwich cookie.

Nutrition

For comparison with the figures below, regular Oreos have about 53 kcal per unit, with 2.3 g fat and 4.7 g sugar; “Double Stuf” Oreos are 70 kcal per unit, 3.5 g fat and 6.5 g sugar. Most specialty Oreo flavors follow the “Double Stuf” formula. (The thoroughly disgusting “Mega Stuf” Oreos are 90 kcal each, 4.5 g fat and 9.0 g sugar.)

Nutrition Facts
Serving size: 1 sandwich cookie
Servings per recipe: about 16
Amount per serving
Calories 369 Calories from fat 185
% Daily Value
Total Fat 21​g 33%
 Saturated Fat 13​g 63%
Trans Fat 0​g
Cholesterol 57​mg 19%
Sodium 112​mg 5%
Total Carbohydrate 45​g 15%
 Dietary fiber 3​g 12%
 Sugars 30​g
Proteins 5​g 9%
Vitamin A 12%
Vitamin C 0%
Calcium 2%
Iron 9%
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One Response to Recipe quick takes: Joanne Chang’s “Homemade Oreos”

  1. Looks amazing

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