18 December 2008

Where did I go wrong?

One of my all-time favorite foodie blogs is Smitten Kitchen.  I like to read her recipes.  I haven't made a bunch of things she's written about, not because they don't sound awesome, they do.  I just usually don't print whatever it is out, and baking with my laptop in the kitchen?  Bad, bad, bad idea.  So I'll read something she's posted, courtesy of my feed reader, in the early AM, and think, "wow, yeah, yum." and then I never make it, because the laptop isn't usually hooked to the printer and that is more than I can handle doing in the early AM.

I read about her home-made Oreos several times, clicking back on the link frequently, re-reading, and thinking, hmmmm, I'd like to try those.  From the way she writes alone, I think she'd be someone awesome to have a few drinks with; she's sarcastic, self-deprecating, and hilarious.

Finally, I copied the recipe to a Google Document and printed it.  The day I planned to make it, I actually did read through all 150+ comments, and I was forewarned that they might get super obnoxiously puffy and large.  So I used my smallest cookie scoop, a #100 disher.  I don't think this thing holds more than a teaspoon of matter.

Since I am going to blather on about the recipe for a while longer, I'm going to copy and paste the ingredients here so that you can refer to them (should you care) without clicking back and forth and back and forth between tabs.

Homemade Oreos
Retro Desserts, Wayne Brachman

Makes 25 to 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 to 1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) room-temperature, unsalted butter
1 large egg

For the 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

1. Set two racks in the middle of the oven. Preheat to 375 degrees.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. 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 this process until all the cookies have been sandwiched with cream. Dunk generously in a large glass of milk.

The ingredients include dutch-processed cocoa, which if you live anyplace with any sizable population and some culture, isn't hard to find.  Since I am living in the Midwest in a very small place, we don't need none of dat furin cocoa.  I found Hershey's Special Dark cocoa, though, and thought that since it says it is a blend of dutch-processed and regular cocoa, it should be close enough.  

Or - not.

They got huge.  And the 9 minute baking time is too much in my super-hot oven, they were some crispy critters after 9 minutes.  Instead of being the size of Oreos, or just ever-so-slightly larger, these things were the size of a whoopie pie, or a moon pie, or a lunar pie, depending on where you hail from.  If you're not a yank....they should have been about 4 cm in diameter, and instead were 10 cm in diameter.  

So that didn't end well.

If we're going to be scientific about the whole thing, you could theorize that since baking soda doesn't react with the alkali used to process "dutch-process" cocoa, and I didn't have the right cocoa, that having both baking powder AND soda made 'em huge.  Or that the longer oven stay made them bigger, as the butter continued to melt.  I'm not entirely sure.

The frosting for them was excellent, tasting exactly like I remember Oreos from my childhood.  With the frosting and cookies combined, though, it wasn't the heaven I was expecting.  The cookies tasted scorched, and were apt to fall apart with a bite instead of holding together.  But I could see how they'd be fantastique if they were done properly.  

The nagging mystery of what exactly went wrong, however, will continue to bother me until I get it figured out.

Edited 12/19 to add:


After allowing the cookies to sit out in the open for about a day and a half, on my dining room table on cooling racks, I was contemplating trashing them all.  But maybe there was one that wasn't burnt, and the cream filling was yummy, so I poked around and picked one up and bit into it and O. Mi. God.  Other than over-baking most of them, and the fact that they were larger than they should have been, a day or so to cure was all these things needed to become amazing.  As in Ahhh-Maz-Ing amazing.  They taste like oreo cookies.  They taste like the oreo cookies I remember as a kid.  Yum.  Hey, Luce: just don't burn 'em next time, k?

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