More than just an Oreo

When I was growing up my family frequented a local ice cream shop, with outdoor seating and this intriguing and unassuming, bare-bones rustic drinking fountain that always made me conjure up thirst just so I could use it.  The air always smelled like soybeans from the local processing plant as we sat outside in the sweaty weather and ate our ice cream as the sun went down…and my Dad would often get an Oreo avalanche.  Dad said he grew up eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Oreos everyday.  In my mind, Oreos and my dad just seemed to go together like, well, Oreos and milk.

When I see an Oreo I think of my dad.  We really didn’t eat a lot of Oreos when I was a kid, but every now and then they would show up on the kitchen counter as “Dad’s treat” and he would share with us.  Oreos or a bag of M&Ms.  They were one of those “special times" treats. 

Every now and again I’ll get an insatiable craving for an Oreo.  And now that I'm a bit older,  I just can’t get ice cream without getting Oreo ice cream.  I’ve tried, but I always feel like I drive away having missed out on really having had ice cream.  At our next visit, I will get ice cream with Oreos and everything is right again.  Funny, I always liked the Dilly Bars growing up.  But that may be because at the Creamery they were the size of Dad's Ford F150 back truck tire and all of 80¢.  But now?  It has to be Oreo.  And I always think of my dad and our family trips to the Creamery.  I know my dad likes other flavors.  But memories are like that.  And Oreos stick in mine.

 Oreos are one of those iconic American foods that just seem to be a rite of passage to growing up.  And, I just happen to really like them.  And, I just happen to have personal fond memories that involve my dad and Oreos.  But “normal” Oreos don’t work for my little Pickles.  And so, I had a mission:  make an Oreo to share these memories.

I had to break down the anatomy of an Oreo.  Oreos are a dry cookie.  I think that must be why they are milk’s favorite.  I knew I needed to make a chocolate cookie disk that would hold together well, yet be “dry” enough to call out for a creamy drink to complement it.  The texture of Oroes, with the imprinted insignia on each side, feels rough and crunchy, so I thought that rice flour would perform this texture well.  And though the cookie would be sweet, the overall sweetness wouldn’t really come from the cookie itself,  but from the icing instead.  A pasty icing that sticks to the roof of your mouth and lets the sweetness linger.

I now have several chocolate baked batches of “almost-but-not-quite” in my freezer waiting to be used as a crumb crust or other re-purpose.  But that's ok, because I have come up with a recipe I love.  It fits the criteria.  And in a taste test versus a “real” Oreo, it won hands down in our house.  I never would have thought to use these ingredients if I had never started down the road of wheat and dairy free eating.  But my cooking horizons have been broadened, and this recipe proves that you don’t have to miss out on any flavor when you eat 'free.

Family Legacy Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

(gluten, dairy, soy, egg, nut free)

1 tbsp flax seed meal
2 tbsp water
½ cup sugar
½ cup plus 1 tbsp palm shortening
2 tsp vanilla extract
½ cup fresh ground white basmati rice flour
1/3 cup potato starch
2/3 cup cocoa powder
¾ tsp baking powder
¾ tsp salt

Icing:  (Make two batches to equal cookie recipe)
3 tbsp palm shortening
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¾ tsp water
1 cup powdered sugar

To make cookies:

1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  

2.  In a small saucepan, combine flax seed meal and water.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it comes together and is “goopy.”  Remove from heat and set aside.

3.  In a medium bowl, cream together shortening and sugar.  Add vanilla and fully incorporate.

4.  In a separate bowl combine rice flour, potato starch, baking powder, and salt.  Whisk to completely combine.

5.  Add half of flour mixture to creamed mixture and beat to combine.  Add flax goop and beat.  Add the rest of the flour mixture and beat until incorporated.  

6.  On surface lightly dusted with rice flour, roll dough to 3/8 inch thickness.  Use a 1 ½ inch circle cookie cutter to cut out cookies.  Place on a baking stone.  Bake for 12 minutes, remove from oven.  Let rest on stone for 2 more minutes, then carefully remove to a cooling rack to completely cool.  When cooled, place in a resealable container.

To make icing:

In a small bowl, stir together shortening and vanilla. 
Add ½ cup powdered sugar and stir. 
Add ½ tsp water and stir again. 
Add ¼ cup powdered sugar, stir. 
Add ¼ tsp water, stir. 
Add last ¼ cup powdered sugar or amount needed to make a stiff icing. 
Working with small amounts, spoon icing into pastry bag fitted with a coupler and large round icing tip (or use only the coupler without an icing tip). 
Squeeze a round of icing onto the wrong side of a chocolate cookie, then top with another cookie, wrong sides facing each other.
Press together gently.

Store assembled cookies in a sealed container.

Yield:  nearly 4 dozen (1 1/2 inch) sandwich cookies

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!  I love you.  I love thinking of you when I see an Oreo and remembering not only the good times that involved the cookies and ice cream, but all the other times when you were just my dad and offered a safe, loving, and God-fearing home to grow up in.  Hopefully, even more than Oreo cookies, that is the legacy my husband and I can pass on to our little Pickles.
(Originally published, June 17, 2012)

Always be creative,
Marie Winfield


Popular Posts