Overstuffed O’s

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These are like jumbo, gourmet-versions of Oreo’s.  That about sums it up.

I work at the library, and there was this cookbook on the new books display that had the most delicious looking cookie sandwiches on the cover.  I’d seen the book (Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith) before and hadn’t given it a second thought, but my shift was nearing an end and my hunger probably made the cover look even more delicious.  So, I checked it out and just drank in all of the mouth-watering pictures.  There were multiple problems, however, because the author of the cookbook was a gourmet chef and required many expensive ingredients that we don’t keep on hand.  For example, almost every recipe called for some form of pure vanilla product, including the actual bean.  I quickly did my research and found that beans can range from about $3-5 per bean.  Luckily, I’ve always been intrigued by vanilla beans, so I decided to buy them in bulk (which is far cheaper – more like 50 cents per bean) from Vanilla Products U.S.A .  They are so much FUN!  They are a fragrant bundle of vanilla goodness, and the shipping was really quick too.  If you look really closely, you’ll see little flecks of vanilla bean in the filling, which I added just for the fun of it 🙂

But I digress 🙂

I ended up having a fun shopping trip later on in the week, picking out interesting ingredients like cocoa nibs and 70% dark chocolate.  Yum.  I ended up getting Green & Black’s organic dark chocolate, since we’ve gotten it at Minnesota’s Biggest Candy Store before and loved it.

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Cocoa nibs were one of the most interesting ingredients listed and one I have never heard of before.  They are basically cocoa beans that are dried and roasted and that add a unique chocolate flavor that I thought contributed to making the cookies taste more like real Oreo’s.

One note on the size:  If you’re going for jumbo-don’t-need-seconds kind of size, use a normal 2-in. cup.  However, we found that they were a bit too big for comfort and ended up making a couple mini ones that are just perfect to have one or two.  Be sure to roll out the dough pretty thin as well, since thicker cookies means more frosting than is provided.

Overstuffed O’s

Makes 24 sandwich cookies (my note: makes more if making mini sandwiches)

For the cookies

4 ounces bittersweet chocolate (preferably Valhrona Caraibe 66%), chopped (I used Green & Black’s organic 70%)

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup finely ground cocoa nibs

1/4 cup natural dark cocoa powder (preferably Valrhona) – (I used Ghirardelli natural unsweetened)

1 tablespoon finely ground espresso beans (I didn’t have any on hand, so I just added 1 tbsp. more of ground cocoa nibs and it worked fine)

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted)

1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar (I used light)

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 extra-large egg, at room temperature

1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract

1/4 cup buttermilk, at room temperature

  • To make the cookies, melt the chocolate in a small heatproof bowl set over simmering water, stirring until the chocolate is melted and smooth, about 4 minutes.  Remove the bowl from the heat and set aside to cool slightly.
  • Sift together the flour, cocoa nibs, cocoa powder, ground espresso beans, and baking soda.  Make sure to toss any unsifted nibs back into the mixture.
  • Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until soft and smooth.  Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt and beat on medium speed for about 5 minutes, until light and fluffy.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat for 1 minute, until combined.  The mixture will look curdled, but trust me, it will all come together.
  • Add the melted chocolate and beat on low speed for about 1 minute, until blended.  Add half of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until just combined.  Add the buttermilk and mix until blended.  Add the remaining flour and mix until just combined. Do not overmix.
  • Arrange 2 large pieces of plastic wrap on a work surface.  Divide the dough into 2 pieces, drop them onto the plastic, cover, and shape each into an even, flat disc.  Refrigerate for about 1 hour, or until form enough to roll out.
  • Position the oven racks in the upper middle and lower middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375°F (350°F if using a convection oven).  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or nonstick liners.
  • Put a large piece of parchment paper on a work surface.  Working with one piece of dough at a time, put the dough on the center of the paper and top with another sheet of parchment paper.  Roll the dough to a scant 1/4-inch thickness, stopping occasionally to peel away the paper, dust lightly with flour and reposition the paper so that you don’t get any wrinkles.  If the dough is too hard to roll, set it aside for 15 to 20 minutes until it is softer.
  • Using a round 2-inch cookie cutter, punch out rounds and arrange them about 3/4 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets (they don’t spread much, if at all).  Reroll and cut the scraps once,
  • Bake for 8 to 10 minutes (7 to 9 minutes if using a convection oven), switching the baking sheets’ positions halfway through baking.  (If you like crisper cookies, add a minute or two to the baking time.)  Transfer the baking sheets to wire racks and let cool completely.

For the filling

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (I used salted)

4 cups confectioners’ sugar

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla bean extract

(My optional route: add half a vanilla bean’s seeds)

  • To make the filling, using an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed for about 3 minutes, until soft and smooth.  Add the sugar, salt, and vanilla and beat on medium-high speed for 3 minutes, until smooth, light, and fluffy.
  • Scrape the filling into a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2-inch plain tip.  (You can use a 2-tablespoon ice cream scoop instead.)  Arrange half of the cooled cookies bottom side up on a work surface.  Pipe about 2 tablespoons of filling in the center of each cookie.  Top with the remaining cookies, top side up, and press gently to push the filling to the edges.  Let the filling set so that it doesn’t “splooge” out when you take a bite.  Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

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(Today’s recipe was taken word-for-word from Baking Out Loud by Hedy Goldsmith, 2012.  The introduction, parenthesized notes in the recipe starting with “I”, and photos are all the property of Lots of life, love, and literature.)

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