Sunday, February 21, 2010

February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies

Don't be deceived by the name of this cookie; the cream is not chocolate. The cream is vanilla flavored and it is sandwiched between two chocolate cookies. A more apt name would be Homemade Oreo Cookies, but I imagine that would raise trademark issues, though you should not construe that as legal advice as I am not your lawyer. Also, this recipe contains no cream, nor dairy products of any kind, which you should also in no way construe as legal advice.

As the only drawback of January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, was unexpected spreading, I thought I should pick a cookie for February that is all about spread prevention. Last month, Mark Scarbrough, one of the authors of The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, posted a comment suggesting that my cookies' unexpected spreading may have been due to overly warm butter. This recipe uses solid vegetable shortening, presumably to avoid the warm butter issue altogether. I also reviewed the book's section on equipment which had this little nugget,

If you have an insulated baking sheet, watch the times carefully--you may also try baking your cookies only in the bottom third of the oven to keep them from spreading too much as they bake.
Indeed, the batches that spread the most last month were baked on an insulated baking sheet. So when I replaced my rusted old baking sheet this month, I invested in a Chicago Metallic Betterbake Large Cookie Pan, instead of another insulated baking sheet. I did bake two sheets at a time instead of one, as the instructions state. I put one rack in the middle of the oven and one on the bottom. I put the insulated baking sheet on the bottom rack. You want no spread, I'll show you no spread.
Booyah! Yes, that's the cookie cutter that I used to cut out the cookies and it almost fits over a baked cookie.
These cookies are super brittle. I've never worked with such a dry dough. The picture above illustrates what happens when you don't roll it out carefully. The dough hardly holds together. It's sort of a pile of chocolate pellets. But if you mush them together, they hold after baking. The original instructions said to, "Prick each disk with a fork, thereby creating a decorative cross-hatch pattern on the cookie." I tried this on one and it shattered. Yes, cookie dough SHATTERED. It was crazy.

Don't freak out if the filling is also kinda white pellets before you add the vanilla. The vanilla is just enough liquid to transform it from the consistency of the slopes at Whistler to creamy smooth.

My totally not independent taste tester liked these a lot. They hold up to dunking in milk very well, though if you like the milk to make your cookie mushy, you have to be a little more patient than with Oreos. The cookies really do melt in your mouth. Oddly, I only got 14 cookie sandwiches out of this recipe, though the book said I should get 21. I might have been able to eek out two more sandwiches if I rerolled the last little bit. But that would have taken another hour of cooling. Not sure the effort is worth it. We both prefer the whoopie pies we made last year. But if you think the filling for those whoopie pies was a little too grown up and unsweet, these cookies' filling might be a good substitute.

Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough

For the Cookies

  • 1 1/2 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C cocoa powder, preferably Dutch-processed, sifted
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 C solid vegetable shortening (8 oz.) (If I hadn't found organic solid vegetable shortening at my local store, I probably would not have made these cookies)
  • 1 C plus 2 T confectioners' sugar
  • 1 t vanilla extract

For the Filling

  • 4 1/2 T solid vegetable shortening (slightly more than 2 oz.)
  • 1 T light corn syrup (I had this on hand from last month's recipe . . . and I still feel guilty)
  • 1 1/2 C confectioners' sugar, or more if necessary
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • 1/2 t salt (I used the fine sea salt from the NYTCCCs)


1. Whisk (I sifted) the flour, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside.

2. Use an electric mixer at medium speed to beat the shortening and confectioners' sugar in a large bowl until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat in the vanilla until smooth. Remove the beaters and stir in the prepared flour mixture with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula just until incorporated. The dough will be quite soft, but it will hold together into a ball. Divide in half.

3. Sprinkle a few drops of water on your work surface, then cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Place half the dough on it, then lay a second large sheet of plastic wrap on top. Roll out the dough until 1/4 inch thick. Transfer the dough, still between the sheets of plastic wrap, to a large baking sheet; place in the refrigerator for 1 hour, or until firm. Repeat this step with the second half of the dough, transferring it, sandwiched between sheets of plastic wrap, to a second baking sheet also placed in the refrigerator.

4. Position the rack in the center of the oven; preheat oven to 350.

5. Remove the rolled-out dough from the refrigerator, peel off the top sheet of plastic wrap, and use a 2 1/2 inch, round cookie cutter to cut out cookies. Use a metal spatula to transfer them to a large, ungreased baking sheet, preferably nonstick, spacing them about 2 inches apart. Work quickly here--you want the cookies to be cool when they go into the oven. Also, use the same baking sheet that held the dough in the refrigerator--it will be cool and prevent the cookies from spreading while baking. If there are dough scraps, you can reroll them, but you need to roll them out again between pieces of plastic wrap, then refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until firm.

6. Bake for 12 minutes, rotating the sheet back to front halfway through baking. The cookies will be firm but a little spongy--they will crisp as they cool. Cool for 3 minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely. Place the baking sheet in the refrigerator and chill it for 5 minutes before baking additional batches--or use the second baking sheet, with the second sheet of dough that's already in the refrigerator.

7. Once all the cookies are baked and cooled, prepare the filling by beating the shortening and corn syrup in a medium bowl until smooth, using an electric mixer at medium speed. Beat in the confectioners' sugar until fluffy, then beat in the vanilla and salt until smooth. You may need to add a little more confectioners' sugar to get a spreadable, frosting-like consistency--but be careful of adding too much, as it will continue to harden as it sets.

8. To fill, place a heaping teaspoonful of the mixture on the flat side of one of the cookies. Spread this gently to the ends, using a small flatware knife or an offset spatula, making an even layer of filling. Top with a second cookie, flat side down; place on a wire rack to let the filling set somewhat, about 15 minutes. Continue creating chocolate cream sandwiches until all the cookies and filling are used.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

Edited 2/21/2010 to add:
It has been brought to my attention that co-blogger Bob, not co-blogger Rebecca, bought me The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, notably during these Winter Olympics, from the University of British Columbia Bookstore.

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Mark Scarbrough said...

Well, shoot, those don't look so great. You're right: no spread. But all sharded up like that? I remember the cookies being crisp--but I think I may have to send Bruce back into the kitchen on that one, just to give it a once-over on our end. Sharding? Doesn't sound so great to me.

Rebecca said...

For a different version, of a homemade oreo, I made these a while back:

The cookie is much softer than an oreo, but it was still tasty. Personally, I didn't love them enough to make them again. But, they all disappeared when I brought them to work.

I too used the organic, non hydrogenated shortening (I think the brand is Spectrum). I've been very happy with that in other recipes as well.

I don't think that corn syrup is inherently evil. The thing that's bad is when everything has high fructose corn syrup in it. I believe that high fructose corn syrup has gone through more processing to make it even sweeter than regular corn syrup. In small amounts, corn syrup is useful at controlling texture and eliminating sugar crystallization.