I’m back! I had a lovely time in Thailand, though I haven’t managed to get through my photos so I don’t have any evidence for you…so we’ll just have to get straight into the baking.
Back in the States, 4th of July is always a pretty big deal. I’m not the most patriotic person in the world – I mean, I’ve been living abroad for the past three years, so go figure – but it’s such a fun holiday. In my hometown, we start the day with a massive tug-of-war with the town on the other side of the lagoon. Then we have a big bagel-and-mimosa breakfast at our house, then the national anthem and a parade, and then everyone just hangs out at the beach or on the streets and eats and drinks all day until it’s dark enough for fireworks. It’s amazing. Of course, 4th of July isn’t a holiday here in New Zealand, so I’ve had to do without all of that for the past couple of years. But I still wanted to do something in honor of all those good times.
Apple pie is my go-to all-American treat, but it’s not something I can bring into work, practically speaking, so I decided on something a little simpler and more compact: homemade Oreos. And I made the icing red, white, and blue to make sure people got that it was a 4th of July thing.
This is yet another great recipe from Smitten Kitchen. The wafers really do taste just like Oreos – crunchy and not-too-sweet. The filling in her recipe calls for vegetable shortening for the sake of consistency (all-butter filling tastes great, but doesn’t keep its shape at room temperature). I spent about an hour wandering around Wellington trying to find some shortening that didn’t look disgusting…no luck. I’d heard coconut oil could work, and a friend of mine who is unabashedly obsessed with the stuff urged me to try it. So you can use shortening if you want, or even just all butter. But this is what I did, and the result was great. No coconut taste at all, either, which was what I was worried about.
4th of July Oreos
(Adapted from Smitten Kitchen.)
For the wafers:
1 1/4 cup flour
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (Dutch-process if you have it, but the regular stuff works fine too)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
140 grams unsalted butter, room temperature
1. Preheat oven to 190 degrees Celsius (375 Fahrenheit). Line a baking tray or two with baking parchment.
2a. If you have a food processor: in the processor, mix flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. On a low speed, or in between pulses, add in the butter, and then the egg. Process until the dough comes together in a mass.
2b. If you don’t have a food processor (or if, like me, you make a double batch and it won’t all fit): you can do this one of two ways. I used a hand mixer but kept the order of ingredients the same as above. This worked, but it was a bit messy and the butter never quite fully broke down. I had to use my hands at the end to get it all mixed together properly. So while the texture will be slightly different, I would actually recommend creaming the butter first, then beating in the egg, and then adding the dry ingredients and mixing until you have a nice more-or-less homogenous dough.
3. Form the dough into rounded teaspoons and drop on the prepared tray(s), about two inches apart. Flatten with moistened hands (you want them fairly flat – see the photo below) and bake for 9 minutes, turning the tray halfway through so they bake evenly. Cool on the tray for about five minutes, then move to a rack to cool completely.
For the filling:
1/4 cup (55 grams) unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 cup coconut oil, softened in the microwave
2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
2 teaspoons vanilla
red and blue food coloring (optional)
1. Using a hand (or stand) mixer, cream the butter and coconut oil together in a medium mixing bowl. Beat in the vanilla, then add the powdered sugar and beat on low speed until combined. Your filling will look gross and crumbly, like this:
2. Turn the speed on your mixer up and beat until the filling comes together. The original recipe says “until light and fluffy,” but I’d describe it more as thick and smooth. Either way, you’ll know it when you see it.
3. Now you get to fill your cookies! Pair your wafers into roughly equal-sized couples. You want about one rounded teaspoon of filling for each. I just used my hands, but if you’re feeling fancy you can fill a pastry bag and pipe the filling on. If you’re doing tri-colored cookies, fill about a third of your cookies (about 8-10 sandwiches) with the plain white icing, then move on to step 4. Otherwise, just fill all of them.
4. Once you’ve done all your white cookies, split the remaining filling in half. You’ll only need a couple drops of food coloring for each, and you can mix it in however’s easiest – with a hand mixer, or just with a spoon. Fill the rest of the cookies.