My Take on Oreos (with Cognac Buttercream)

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.

The Cookie

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
  1. Beat butter in a stand mixer using the paddle attachment on medium until creamy.
  2. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Continue to beat on medium until creamy, usually another 2 minutes or so.
  3. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, and baking soda.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.)
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Cognac Buttercream

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.


  1. Mix butter and icing sugar on medium until creamy.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Glazed Lemon Cookies: Sunshine in Cookie Form

The final recipe I made on Sunday was a new one to me called Cooks Illustrated Glazed Lemon Cookies. It all started when my aunt asked me to make her something lemony last Thursday. Originally, I thought I would do Giada’s Lemon Ricotta cookies, but I’ve become kind of disillusioned with them.

Don’t get me wrong, they’re really good. They’re just very cakey, heavy, and not as lemony as I’d like them to be. They feel more appropriate for Christmas than spring/summer. I wanted something that was lighter and crisper in texture and flavor. Cooks Illustrated Glazed Lemon Cookies

I did a little searching and settled on the Cooks Illustrated recipe I found at The Way the Cookie Crumbles. The author of the blog, Bridget, has a great printer-friendly recipe and write-up there if you want to try them out.

After staring at chocolate for a few hours, it was so nice to see and smell lemons and lemon zest. It made me feel like spring is really here. That means summer is coming! I’ve survived the winter. Hurrah!

The recipe starts with a lemon sugar, which I thought was really pretty and fragrant.

It gave me an idea. A nice hostess gift for a baker would be a trio of sugars in little jars: lemon, lavender, and vanilla.

Actually, come to think of it, I might try this recipe with lavender sugar to make a Lavender-Lemon Glazed cookie.

The rest of the recipe is pretty easy. I made a few minor changes. You are supposed to pulse bits of butter with the dry ingredients in a food processor. I don’t like my food processor, so I cut the butter in by hand, using my fingers to crumble everything, and then used my paddle attachment on the stand mixer to make sure everything was like a fine meal. It worked perfectly.

I also added more lemon, about ¾ of a tablespoon, because I really wanted them to have a bold flavor. This made the dough a little sticky, but it was still very easy to handle.

The dough, like the World Peace cookie dough, gets rolled into a log and put in the fridge or freezer so it can be cut into rounds.

After I cut and baked them, I let them cool. When they were almost completely cool, I started on the glaze. The recipe calls for adding some cream cheese to the glaze, but I omitted it because I wanted the lemon to really stand out.

I used 2 tablespoons of freshly squeeze lemon juice and then added confectioner’s sugar until it reached the consistency and sweet/sour balance I like. The consistency should be runny but thick enough that it doesn’t completely slide right off the spoon and/or cookies. I didn’t measure, but you’ll probably need somewhere around 1 cup of confectioner’s sugar. Just add a little at a time until you reach your preference.

The result is a really bright and fresh lemony cookie that has a rich, buttery, and almost shortbread-like quality. I find the balance between the sweet and sour is great, nothing is overwhelming. It’s the best lemon cookie I’ve made so far and I can definitely see making them again for a summer picnic or barbecue.

The only problem seems to be that they lose some of their original crispness pretty quickly. It might be from glaze and the extra lemon I added. An easy fix would be to make and eat them right away, of course!

And so concludes the tales of my mini baking marathon. After all of these baking posts I’ll be back to talking about the travel and history side of things soon.

World Peace Cookies: Sweet and Salty Chocolate Decadence

My Sunday baking marathon continued with these little chocolate gems:

World Peace Cookies

I’ve made these cookies many times over the past couple of years. I can pretty safely say they are my favorites.

They’re small, buttery, deep, dark chocolate sables with bittersweet chocolate pieces. But that’s not all. A hearty dose of fleur de sel heightens their flavor and keeps them from being cloyingly sweet. They flood your taste buds with a mix of sweet, salty, and bitter; it's pure cookie joy.

World Peace Cookies have an interesting history. This recipe is from Dorie Greenspan and can be found here. It was Greenspan’s neighbor, Richard, who renamed them World Peace Cookies after deciding that there would be world peace if everyone ate them daily.

Originally, however, they were called Korova Cookies in her book Paris Sweets. Korova was a milk bar in Kubrick’s A Clockwork Orange and the name of Pierre Hermé’s restaurant, where Hermé first created them. Greenspan adapted her recipe from his.

If you’re a lover of Paris and/or macarons, you’ll know that Pierre Hermé makes, arguably, the best macarons in Paris and, perhaps, the world.

He is known for his mastery of classic flavors, but also for complex, interesting, adventurous, and sometimes even whimsical combinations like white truffle and hazelnut, wasabi and grapefruit, and even foie gras.

World Peace Cookies have that same sense of mastery. Every ingredient is so beautifully balanced with the others that they come together to create something divine.

Actually, when I was making them on Sunday I started sifting the flour and cocoa together when I noticed what looked like a yin-yang being formed.

It was a perfect metaphor for these sweet and salty cookies.

Maybe this totally negates the whole “world peace” aspect of them, but when I eat them all I can think of is “Mmmm. It’s a perfect chocolate bomb in my mouth.” (Do you hear Tom Jones in your head singing “chocolate bomb”  to “Sex Bomb” the way I do right now? If you didn’t, then you might now. You’re welcome!)

The recipe itself is really easy and quick to make. The only trick is to make sure you don’t over-mix the dough when you add the flour/cocoa mixture. The dough should seem very crumbly/sandy before you add the chocolate pieces.

From there, it’s fairly easy to shape it into logs.

Once the dough cools in the fridge, you cut it into rounds and bake them. The rounds might fall apart a little when you cut them, but just press them back together. I usually end up with about 52 cookies since I make the logs a bit thinner than the recipe suggests.

Once they’re baked, I dare you to eat just one. Forget potato chips. These are so much more enjoyable and decadent. I don’t know if they could bring about world peace, but I’m sure they would at least put a smile on a lot of faces, which makes them perfect for sharing.

I've also found that sprinkling some fleur de sel top of these Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies makes a nice sweet and salty cookie that reminds me a little of World Peace Cookies. The addition of steel-cut oats also adds a really interesting chew and crunch to their texture. If you love the World Peace ones you could give those a try, too.

Tomorrow I'll post about the lemon cookies I made and finish up this mini baking series.