Happy Holidays! It looks like we might have a white Christmas here after all! The past few days have been full of Christmas baking and most of it is finally done. We have lots of traditional favorites: shortbread, chippy chewy bars, World Peace cookies, and nanimos.
I, however, noticed a small sub-theme this year: booze. First it was a flourless chocolate birthday cake with cognac, next Gramercy Tavern ginger cake with stout and, then . . .
One night while I was thinking about what to bake this year, a little voice in my head whispered: "Cognac buttercream."
"Yes! But on what?" I asked the voice.
And it whispered again, "Oreos."
Oreos, you see, are my favorite packaged cookie. I can resist just about every packaged cookie except Oreos, so it's one of my missions make a good replica.
I've tried a few recipes but nothing is ever thin, crispy, or chocolately enough for me. And the filling is always a bit gross to make. A pile of shortening and icing sugar is just not appetizing. To be fair, that is essentially what Oreo filling really is, but if I don't have to make it, then I can pretend it's not disgusting. Call it cookie cognitive dissonance, if you will.
So instead of trying out another "secret" recipe, I thought I'd go my own way. This is my grown-up, decadent version. I think they're pretty darn good, if I may say so myself.
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan's World Peace Cookies
I posted about my love of World Peace Cookies before. Their sable texture deep chocolate flavor with just enough salt to make them interesting always struck me as something that might make a good Oreo-type cookie. If Oreos, you know, went to finishing school/evolved/reincarnated as a higher life form . . .I mean, um, cookie form? (Dear God I hope I'm not offending Pierre Hermé.)
These are, basically, thinner, smaller World Peace Cookies minus the chocolate chips.
- 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 11 tablespoons butter (softened)
- 1/4 cup white sugar
- 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
- Beat butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium until creamy.
- Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Continue to beat on medium until creamy, usually another 2 minutes or so.
- Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, and baking soda.
- While mixer is off, add the dry ingredients to the sugar/butter mix. Dorie Greenspan recommends putting a kitchen towel over the stand mixer to keep the powder from flying out at you when you turn it on. This works. Trust me. After you've placed your towel over the mixer, pulse it about 5 times on low. Check to see if the dry mix is incorporated. If not, then pulse it a little more until the flour is just incorporated. The dough should be crumbly, so don't over process the dough.
- Pull out two sheets of cling wrap. Divide the dough in half, form into logs, and wrap the logs in the cling wrap. Mine were about 15 inches long and just over 1 inch in diameter, but feel free to make them a diameter you would like. Just remember that you will have to watch the cooking time closely later based on the size of your cookie.
- Refrigerate dough for 3 hours. (Sometimes I cheat and throw them into the freezer for 20-30 minutes when I don't have enough time.)
- When your 3 hours are up, preheat the oven to 350°F with the rack in the center. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
- Pull your cookie logs out of the fridge. Using a sharp knife, cut 1/4 inch rounds. If they crumble and fall apart, just press them back together.
- Place cookies on baking sheet, about 1 inch apart. Bake one sheet at a time for 11 minutes. When you pull them out, the cookies will still be quite soft, but they firm up as they cool. Either cool them on the baking sheet or, after a few minutes when the cookies have hardened a bit, transfer them to a wire rack to cool to room temperature.
Adapted from Cupcake Project Vanilla Buttercream
- 1 1/2 cups icing sugar (more if needed for your desired texture)
- 1/2 cup butter, softened to room temperature
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Cognac, rum, brandy, or liquor of your choice to taste. 2 tablespoon was perfect for me.
- Mix butter and icing sugar on medium until creamy.
- Add vanilla and cognac to taste. Start with 1 tablespoon and add (to the buttercream--but feel free to take a nip or two for yourself if you want) until you're happy with the flavor.
- If you need to, tweak the icing sugar until like the texture.
For the cookies, you will need it to be stiff enough to not run when pressed between cookies, but soft enough to be piped.
Putting Them Together
When the cookies were cool and the buttercream was ready, I spooned the buttercream into a big freezer bag and snipped a small part of one corner off. You can use a pastry bag with a tip if you have one but there's no need to be fancy here.
From there, just pipe a dollop of buttercream onto one cookie, place another cookie on top and press down lightly. I recommend storing the final product in the fridge to keep the buttercream firm.
I made another batch with rum buttercream, which are good, but there's something about the cognac that I love. I think it's the nice balance between the dark chocolate, the saltiness, and the sweetness that the complexity of the cognac really compliments.
These aren't Oreos, but I think I've found my "close enough" home-made version. In a way, they're better. I can play with buttercream flavors and the World Peace sables are just all around delicious.
I also highly recommend putting the cognac buttercream on top of Gramercy Tavern Ginger Cake. As much as I love it between the cookies, I think it tastes incredible on the ginger cake. Make sure to make the ginger cake and not the gingerbread. It's excellent for people who like their gingerbread dark, spicy, dense, and moist. I don't use a bundt pan because I think they're fiddly, but I have had success with cupcakes and shallow cake pans. I'm sure it would be great in a loaf pan as well. You just have to watch your baking time and keep an eye on it.
Now I just have one boozy dessert left, a Gateau Basque with brandied cherries for Christmas night.
I hope everyone who celebrates has a wonderful, warm, happy, lovely Christmas. And for everyone who doesn't celebrate Christmas, I hope you have a wonderful, happy, lovely, and warm weekend.