No procrastination on those homemade Oreos (a la Smitten Kitchen) that I mentioned in my last post. I could not get these things out of my head, so I decided to make a batch! I even remembered to take pictures for your viewing pleasure this time (although Smitten's are much better than mine...) I even learned something about cocoa powder in the process, and so there will even be a science-y tip for you.
Are Oreos really retro? I certainly think of them that way because I used to gobble them down when I was a kid but haven't really eaten them in years (except for when they are in cookies and cream ice cream). Do kids still eat Oreos? Judging from the paranoia over giving kids processed foods, I wouldn't be surprised if Oreos up and became extinct (unless Nabisco can find a way to make them organic with added wholegrain and no trans-fats), but then again I wouldn't be that surprised if I saw a 7-year-old eating sushi either.
On to the goodies. I followed the recipe more or less exactly as written, so I won't plagiarize it here. My notes/tips are below. Oh, and to answer the burning question, yes, they really do taste like Oreos (but better)!
(1) The recipe calls for 'Dutch Process' cocoa powder. In the US I would likely have just grabbed my can of Hershey's cocoa powder and not thought about it again. However, here in the UK I'm always triple-checking ingredients because, well, things are often just different here in ways you never would have expected. I had a can of Green and Black's cocoa powder but it was almost empty, so I headed to the store and found only the generic brand. When I compared the two cans at home, I discovered that Green and Black's is 100% cocoa powder, while the store-brand is 93% cocoa powder and an acidity regulator (calcium carbonate). Based on my reading of the Joy of Baking's page on this, the store-brand was a neutralized (or at least less acidic) cocoa, and therefore most like Dutch Process. If you read the comments on the Smitten Kitchen post, you'll see that several people noted their cookies were too puffy. I suspect it has to do with the use of non-Dutch Process cocoa, which, along with the baking powder, would also be able to react with the baking soda and create additional rising. In any case, I didn't realize there were important differences in cocoa powders until today.
(2) With just the butter added to the dry ingredients it seemed like the batter would never come together (see note 3 below), but add the egg and Bob's your uncle. (I LOVE this phrase. You should have seen the look on my face when someone said this in my office during my first week in London. I had not a clue what he meant, and everyone thought it was hilarious.)
(3) I think a food processor would have been the smart choice rather than a hand mixer over an open bowl. Our kitchen is coated in a fine layer of cocoa/flour/sugar. Good thing we've got someone coming to clean on Monday!
(4) I went with Smitten's suggestion to cut the sugar to 1 c rather than 1.5 c in the cookie dough and am glad I did. With the filling as cloyingly sweet as it is, I think it would have been way too much if the cookies were any sweeter (and I like cloyingly sweet).
(5) The filling smooshes out of the cookies, making them a bit messy (but delicious) to eat. Also, if you aren't planning to eat all of the cookies within about 24 hours, I would suggest filling them as you eat them (store the filling in the fridge and then warm to room temp), otherwise the cookies get a bit soggy (but they're still good that way too).