Homemade Oreos

The grocery store cookie aisle is no longer the only place where you can find delicious Oreos, because this recipe for Homemade Oreos is one of those rare instances when a knockoff is a surprising improvement over the real thing.  These “Faux-re-os” taste just like Oreos, with a creamy vanilla filling sandwiched between two intensely dark, chocolately cookies.  The homemade version has a slightly softer texture and a more condensed, rich flavor. But just like store-bought Oreos, these cookies will transport you into a cookie eating twilight zone where you start off with eating one, and suddenly a whole row of them have disappeared.

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Homemade Oreos

Makes 2-3 dozen cookies, depending on the size
(from Cookies for Kids’ Cancer – All the Good Cookies)

Ingredients

Cookies

1 stick (1/4 pound) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 cup dark unsweetened cocoa powder (I used Black Cocoa but the orginal recipe also recommends Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Cocoa)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

Filling

6 tablespoons (3 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
3 tablespoons vegetable shortening
2 cups confectioner’s sugar, sifted
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Directions

Cookies

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper.
  3. In a mixer, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth, about 3 minutes.
  4. Add the egg, and mix well.
  5. Add the egg yolk, and mix well.  Scrape down the sides as needed.
  6. Add the vanilla, and mix well.
  7. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, and baking powder until well mixed.
  8. With the mixer on low, add the flour mixture to the egg-sugar mixture, and beat until well combined.
  9. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and beat again.
  10. Using a level small (2-teaspoon size) cookie scoop, drop the dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets.
  11. With moistened hands, slightly flatten the dough.
  12. Transfer to the oven, and bake until the edges begin to firm up, about 9 minutes, rotating the cookie sheets on the oven racks halfway through the baking time.
  13. Cool the cookies on the cookie sheets for 3 minutes.
  14. Transfer the cookies to wire racks and cool completely.
  15. Repeat with the remaining dough on cool cookie sheets.

Filling

  1. Place the butter and shortening in the bowl of a mixer fitted with a whisk and beat until creamy.
  2. On low speed, add the confectioners’ sugar and vanilla, and beat until combined.
  3. Increase the spped of the mixer to high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Assembling the Cookies

  1. Spread a scant teaspoonful of filling onto the bottom of half of a cookie, and top with another cookie.
  2. Gently squeeze the cookies together so the filling spreads to the edge.

Note: The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days, or frozen up for to 3 months.

Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache (Gluten-Free)

Gluten-free sweets lovers rejoice!  These Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache are perfect in so many ways.  The cake is light, tender, and spongey with just a hit of almond flavor while the chocolate ganache is rich and creamy.  Plus, these cakes are barely palm-sized, so they’re easy to share, which is a good thing because these cakes are best eaten warm or within eight hours of baking.
A few things to know before you bake these:

  • Allow enough time to chill your ganache (30-60 minutes in addition to prep and baking time)
  • Finely chop your chocolate so that it will melt smoothly into the heated cream
  • Don’t overdo it on adding almond extract as the flavor can be quite strong
  • It really cuts down on prep time to use both a food processor and a mixer
  • Whipping egg whites is the key to the spongey, light cake texture so make sure to follow through on this
  • Don’t overbake the cakes on the first round of baking as it will be more difficult to insert the chocolate ganache balls for the second round of baking

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Mini Almond Cakes with Chocolate Ganache (Gluten-Free)

Makes 12 cupcakes
(from New York Times Cooking)

Ingredients

Ganache

⅓ cup (80 milliliters) heavy cream
3 ounces (85 grams) bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Almond Cake

6 tablespoons (85 grams) melted unsalted butter, cooled, plus more for muffin tin
¾ cup (85 grams) almond flour or meal
¾ cup (94 grams) confectioners’ sugar
¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
Few drops almond extract (optional)
3 tablespoons (24 grams) cornstarch
1 ¼ teaspoons (4 grams) baking powder
2 large egg whites
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar

Directions

Chocolate Ganache

  1. Put the cream in a glass measuring cup (a 1-cup size works well), and heat it in the microwave (approximately 45-60 seconds) until it’s bubbling (or you can heat the cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan).
  2. Add the chocolate to the heated cream, and let it sit for 1 minute.  Then stir the chocolate and cream together until smooth.
  3. Transfer the chocolate ganache to a small container (preferably metal) and freeze until firm, at least 30 minutes.
  4. Scoop the chocolate ganache (a small cookie scoop works well for this), and roll into twelve 3/4-inch balls. Since the ganache is very soft and can be messy to handle, you don’t need to create perfectly round balls.  Place the ganache balls in the refrigerator until needed.  Ganache balls can be prepared up to 1 week ahead.

Almond Cake

  1. Heat the oven to 350F.
  2. Butter a muffin tin or line a muffin tin with cupcake liners.
  3. Using a food processor or blender, mix the almond flour, confectioners’ sugar, and salt until powdery, about 30 seconds.
  4. Add the two eggs and almond extract, and process until smooth, 30 seconds longer.
  5. Pulse in the butter, cornstarch, and baking powder.
  6. Scrape the mixture into a large bowl, and set aside.
  7. Using an electric mixer, whip the two egg whites until very foamy.
  8. Gradually add granulated sugar while beating the egg whites until stiff peaks form.
  9. Using a spatula, gently and carefully fold a third of the egg whites into the almond mixture to lighten it. Then, fold in the rest of the egg whites just until no streaks remain.
  10. Spoon the batter into prepared muffin tin, and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven.
  11. Remove the ganache balls from refrigerator, and place one ball in the center of each cake, pushing it down halfway into batter.
  12. Return the cakes to the oven, and bake until light brown and a toothpick inserted into cake (and not the chocolate) comes out clean, another 8 to 10 minutes.
  13. Serve warm or at room temperature, preferably within 8 hours of baking.

Flourless Fudge Cookies

Typically I don’t have much interest in baking gluten-free sweets.  But recently I reached a threshold number of friends who are gluten sensitive/intolerant, and thus have made a more concerted effort to provide a few gluten-free baked goods options.  These Flourless Fudge Cookies will make any chocolate lover swoon.  When you don’t have flour to work with, you pack a cookie with flavor-rich ingredients like cocoa powder (use a good quality cocoa powder like from Penzey’s) and espresso powder.  This light-as-air cookie has a delicate crispy top and a delightfully chewy center, all while packing an intense chocolate punch.

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Flourless Fudge Cookies

Makes 16 large or 32 small cookies
(from King Arthur Flour)

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups (9 ounces) confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional
1 cup (3 ounces) cocoa powder, natural or Dutch-process cocoa
3 large (3 3/4 ounces) egg whites
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups (8-12 ounces) chocolate chips, chopped nuts, and/or chopped dried fruit, optional (I don’t use add ins as the cookies are pretty delicate and thin, and I don’t want them weighed down)

Directions

  1. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and grease the parchment.  These cookies will stick, so greasing the parchment is a must.
  2. In a small bowl, whisk together the egg whites and vanilla.
  3. In a separate bowl whisk together the confectioners’ sugar, salt, espresso powder, and cocoa powder.
  4. Pour the egg-vanilla mixture into the dry ingredients, and stir together to mix well.  Make sure to scrape the bottom and sides of the bowl, and stir until the batter is smooth.  The batter should be the consistency of thick syrup.  It will not look like your typical cookie dough, but do not be alarmed.
  5. Add the chips, nuts, etc. if using.  I prefer not to add these in as the cookies are delicate.
  6. Drop the batter onto the baking sheets in 3″ (for large cookies) or 1 3/4″ to 2″ (for smaller cookies) rounds.  I like using a cookie scoop for this as it gets messy because the dough is so liquidy.  Let the cookies rest on the baking sheets for 30 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350°F.  Don’t skip the dough resting step as it allows the cookies to bake more evenly.
  7. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes (for small cookies) or 8-9 minutes (for larger cookies).  The cookies will spread slightly while baking, and become somewhat shiny, and develop faintly crackly tops.
  8. Remove the cookies from the oven, and allow them to cool on the pan.  When they’re nearly cool, loosen them from the pan with a spatula.