Doing It the Hard Way: Homemade Oreos

Earlier this week my husband Tom asked if I could make some cookies or bars for a client lunch, and I immediately thought of the easy and delicious Oreo knockoff, the Farmeeoh (or as I usually call it, the "faux-reo"). But then I remembered that Joanne Chang has a recipe for homemade Oreos that I have never tried, even though I've enjoyed many of the other recipes from her cookbook Flour.

I think one of the reasons I have shied away from this recipe for so long is that it's a lot more work than the Farmeeoh cookies. Chang's version is a slice and bake cookie, while the Farmeeoh is a drop cookie. I generally don't like slice and bake cookies because they almost always come out lopsided, and when it comes to sandwich cookies, I want all of the cookies to be as uniform as possible so that they match up in neat pairs.

Making the dough for Chang's Oreos doesn't require a mixer. You whisk together melted butter, sugar, vanilla, melted chocolate, and an egg, and then stir in the sifted dry ingredients (flour, cocoa powder, salt, baking soda). The recipe says that the mixture will seem too floury and will be easiest to mix with your hands, but my dough wasn't dry at all and I didn't have a problem mixing it with a spatula. You let the dough sit at room temperature for an hour to firm up.

After it's firmed up, you shape the dough into a log, roll the log up in parchment paper, and chill the log for a few hours. The reason that slice and bake cookies often end up lopsided is because the bottom of the log will flatten out as is sits in the fridge. Chang's recipe addresses this problem by instructing you to re-roll the log every 15 minutes to ensure it maintains its round shape.

That seemed like a bit of a pain, so I got the idea to slide some 2.5-inch (just slightly larger than the diameter of the log) cake rings around the dough before I put it in the fridge. I still turned the log a few times while it was chilling (about every 30 minutes or so), but I simply rotated it within the rings and I didn't have to take the log out from the refrigerator to re-roll it. The cake rings prevented the bottom from flattening out in the fridge, and I was very pleased with how nicely round the log was when I was ready to slice it.

While the dough log was round, it was also somewhat crumbly. I had to be very careful to avoid breaking off chunks of dough while I sliced it. I got 42 cookies and they finished baking in 18 minutes. The filling for the cookies is a mixture of butter, powdered sugar, milk, vanilla, and salt.
I really liked the way these cookies looked; in fact, I thought they looked better than the Farmeeohs. Because these are slice and bake cookies, the cookies had a nice sharp edge that looked clean and attractive. The cookies were not perfectly round like the Farmeeohs, but they were pretty uniform and I didn't have any problem pairing them up to form sandwiches (and the filling recipe produced the perfect amount to fill the cookies).

These cookies definitely evoke an Oreo. The chocolate cookie is quite similar in flavor, but it has a more tender texture that is not as dry and crunchy as the supermarket version. The filling is pleasantly, but not overly, sweet. The cookies are delicious.

I think the Farmeeoh is a bit closer to the real thing, as the Farmeeoh cookie has a drier texture more like a real Oreo. Without tasting one of Chang's Oreos and a Farmeeoh side-by-side, I can't say which version is better. But I can tell you that I can't see myself making Chang's very often. They are more work (because of the need to shape the log and slice the cookies) and they require a lot more time (more chilling time and a longer baking time). The Farmeeoh is pretty fabulous, and I not confident that these cookies -- as tasty and attractive as they are -- justify the extra time and effort.

Recipe: "Homemade Oreos" from Flour by Joanne Chang, recipe available here from Fine Cooking.

Previous Post: "The Faux-reo: Farmeeoh Cookies," November 9, 2010.


Louise said…
Sounds like I can take this off my "to bake" list for it's relatively low goodness-to-work ratio. I've made the Farmeeohs and they are fine.
Anonymous said…
Have you tried Thomas Keller/Bouchon Bakery's TKO? They're very rich and chocolately and delicious.
Ah, thanks for reminding me about the TKO! I own a copy of Bouchon Bakery, but I had stuck it in a corner and forgotten about it -- I will have to give the recipe a try!